Too many times, dishes are served in front of me like meticulous assemblies of 10-15 elements, only to taste much less than the sum of its parts. I crave for food that look straightforward yet get my brain juices flowing.
Enter Restaurant Gaa, the brainchild of head chef/part owner Garima Arora. After understanding the origins of the word Gaa (a combination of chef's initials), it's easy to realise that the classy yellow house standing proudly opposite Gaggan is simply an extension of chef Garima herself, and the cuisine, a culmination of her personal journey, which includes a childhood in India, a stint in journalism and a star-studded cooking route through Paris, Dubai and Copenhagen.
|Chef Garima Arora|
@toprussell, "Pandan oil?" Me, "Pandan goes with coconut in most Thai desserts, but caviar with coconut??" Top, "Well seafood and coconut go together in most curries." So there you go. We figured it out. Royal Project caviar on coconut flesh in coconut water and pandan oil. It makes perfect sense. 😄 #restaurantgaa #royalproject #royalprojectcaviar #caviar #coconut #pandan #coconutcaviar #strangerfirstimpression #strangerinbangkok #bangkokfoodies
Chef Garima insists on using only ingredients sourced in Thailand, which explains a lot as you glance through her menu (the main course is the single most delicious pork rib you will ever eat, not some air-flown A5 Wagyu beef). When I commented on the presence of obvious Indian elements in most of her dishes, it was clarified that spices were used to lift the flavour of individual dishes when required, not to specifically introduce hints of any particular cuisine. She is not ready to use any words or cuisine to limit what they will put out in the future.
Come to think of it, a lot of the best dishes at fine-dining restaurants involve liver of some sort. This is one of the genius dishes at @restaurant_gaa, shaved frozen spiced liver on longan and toast, paired with house-made lychee sake created by talented @sjumchai. You know it makes sense. 📸: @kfline #gaa #gaabangkok #bangkokfoodies #lycheesake #toptablesbangkok #finediningbkk #bangkokfoodies #strangerinbangkok
With the rise in global recognition for Bangkok's fine dining scene, what needs to improve concurrently is the receptiveness of the local palate to different cooking styles. In this aspect, Gaa has set a benchmark in this city when it comes to the gradual education of local diners to modern unbounded cuisine. Chef Garima does not plan to slow down, and Bangkok will be better for it.
Personally, I have visited Gaa twice, devouring basically the same menu (bar 1 dish) both times, and I am happy to report that the 2nd meal was even better than the first. If there's any gripe about Gaa, I just wonder whether I will pay for the meal a 3rd time if the menu remains largely similar. Chef Garima, however, has assured me that many changes are on the way. She just wants to make sure every new dish is perfect before making changes, and not release them for the sake of it.
|For her kindness, I gave my stamp, and my first little heart, to Chef Garima.|