LESSONS FROM THE KITCHEN

One of the world’s best Indian chefs is shutting down his restaurant at the top of his game

Quartz india
Quartz india

It’s true. Bangkok’s iconic Indian restaurant Gaggan, ranked Asia’s best for three straight years, is shutting up shop.

Famed for its charcoal prawn Amritsari and yogurt explosion created by the 38-year-old chef Gaggan Anand, Gaggan will close down by 2020. The restaurateur attained an exalted status after his eponymous venture was top-ranked—it came seventh in 2017 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. His fans, who usually need to book tables as much as four months in advance, now are likely to wait even longer.

Gaggan had made the announcement about shutting down as early as last year.

Anand is applying a rule of thumb. “Every restaurant has a 10-year life…After that, it becomes a brand,” the chef, known for serving “progressive Indian cuisine“—partly inspired by the local Thai street food—told Bloomberg.

Gaggan was launched in 2010 by Kolkata-based Anand who refined his culinary skills under Spain’s noted chef Ferran Adrià at the latter’s Michelin star-rated restaurant, El Bulli, in Catalonia. According to its website, Gaggan enthralls its diners by “…using science and modern technology to create modernist and progressive re-interpretations of traditional recipes…” Between 6pm to 9pm, diners are served a 25-course meal known as the Gaggan Experience. The restaurant’s single-page menu is sprinkled with emojis to overcome language barriers.

Anand’s cooking style, honed during his stints with the Taj Group and local restaurants in Bangkok, has helped redefine Indian cuisine for global diners. This is what Anand says:

“I apply scientific cooking techniques to dishes typically eaten on the streets of India, by playing around with shapes and forms. We alter the presentation and texture just to arouse curiosity amongst diners, but retain the authenticity of flavours. I always wanted to do something different, not mainstream. And Gaggan is just that. A modern take on Indian classics. It isn’t pretentious, just real food.”

Anand now wants to reinvent by “drawing on Buddhist principles to challenge himself to avoid boredom and burnout,” Bloomberg noted.

Japan is his next stop. Along with fellow cook and friend Takeshi “Goh” Fukuyama, Anand plans to open a small restaurant in Fukuoka, Japan. He runs a couple of other joints in Bangkok such as burger restaurant Meatlicious.

Perhaps it’s time to book that meal at Gaggan. That is, if any tables are available at all.

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