Tag Archives: Gaggan

Kop gai lai lai


G’day Tony,

Well, it is week 2 of the honeymoon and I am still married, though I am not sure if I should worry about the suggestion that I take a Thai boxing class?!

I must admit I was a little sceptical of Gaggan after our experience at Nahm. Ok, I’ll give it to Nahm that the food was great, but just too many good things on the table at one time kind of made it less special. I’m pretty sure you said you liked Gaggan. Well, I sure did too! Wow. What a shake up of Indian cuisine.

To set ourselves up, and to continue exploring some of the rooftop bars of Bangkok, we took your advice and found our way to Speakeasy at the Muse Hotel. There was a private party happening on the top floor, but the easily found bar was still pretty nice. A cheeky cocktail served by staff taking the flapper theme just a little bit far, but it was still pretty fun.


We lashed out with the full degustation at Gaggan, because I don’t get the opportunity to go that often, unlike you can. I’ll run through some of the highlights below, but I doff my hat to their sommelier for the wine list. There was a healthy selection of approachable aromatic whites and some to challenge. I ended up opting for a Sancerre from Loire. Sauvignon Blanc as only the French seem able to do. I detected a subtle “something” on the nose and the sommelier was gracious in attending and confirmed no cork taint, rather a touch of bretamyacies as the wine maker intended.

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Gaggan, as you know has the ability to surprise. What may look like a conventional dish, ends up being nothing like what you were expecting. Nothing like it. From the “poached egg”, which was instead spiced yoghurt, but with almost precisely the same texture as a poached egg to the sous vide lamb chops which were the standout for me. Oh, not sure if the mini-chocolate degustation for dessert should be counted, as it was mind blowingly good.

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In the same “challenge the expected” theme, the venue is quite the surprise. Finding the place required asking directions of the front of house staff at Muse, then a security guard located near the entrance to the Soi. There is little chance I would explore such a Soi without knowing what lay near the end.


Would I recommend Gaggan to someone visiting Bangkok? In a heart beat.

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We jetted off to Luang Prabang, Laos the next afternoon. I’ve been before, but it was a good 6-8 years ago. I kind of worded Julia up to what we were going to find, but I think it still surprised her somewhat. We stayed at Satri House, which was delightful, but a touch too far out of the middle of the action. The old president’s residence, apparently?! Truly stunning architecture and artwork and a very comfortable room.

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Luang Prabang has changed lots. The demographic of tourists more than anything. The nightmarkets are full of Chinese made stuff, with only a smattering of Lao made wares. The backpackers are still there en-masse, eating buffet street dinners for 10,000 kip (~$A1.30) and sleeping in guest houses for not much more. Then there are those who are “well to do”, e.g. us.

We ate at Apsara on your recommendation. Turns out it is owned by the husband of the owner of Satri House. Food was nice. I really like my slow cooked buffalo cheeks in Lao spices. Didn’t really sing to me otherwise. A spot of rain chased us from alfresco on the banks of the Nam Kahm river to   shelter under the beautiful French colonial veranda.

Our days were filled with strolling the streets, choosing random places to enjoy a Beer Lao, mostly on the Mekong side. A short, early trip was also had to the Kuang Si waterfalls. I’ve seen pics, but its pretty cool! There was nobody else there, which made it special. Then the car from Aman arrived and we left.


We also spent a day doing a Lao cooking course with Tamnak Lao. There were only 3 of us in the class, which started with a trip to the Phousi markets. We cooked, and ate lots. The food is so very different to Thai food, almost no chilli?! Far easier for we softies to deal with! If you get the chance, do the course.

Tamnak Cooking

A visit to LP wouldn’t be complete without a visit to L’Elephant. The food was nice, French, predictable, but the wine list gets me. Classic grand cru French wines for crazy prices. I forked out for a bottle of 2009 Mouton Cadet (white) which, while not overly expensive in Australia, is just unexpected there. Dinner with wine cost a whopping 817,000 kip (~$A120.00) for both of us. Compared with street food, ridiculously expensive.

Only 3 nights in LP, then to our fav, Koh Samui. Hope we get a chance to catch up with you while we are there?!


Better fly. My bride is wondering why I’m on my computer…woops!



The morning after the morning after the night before

Metropolitan Hotel

Hi Tony.

It’s great being in your home city. We always enjoy our visits to Bangkok. A big thanks for treating us to dinner at your “local”. I love that even with 3 large beer Chang and enough food to sustain at least a few extra people, it still only came to ~600B (~A$16) for the four of us.

I still find it hard to believe that people come to Bangkok and hate it?! Friendly people, great food, shopping, cultural highlights that are remarkable and a vibe, just a vibe.

Despite the myriad of new boutique and big name hotels, we really like the Metropolitan. We’ve always been well looked after here and generally have the run of the place. In fact, am looking out on the pool now and there is nobody in it. Might put this on hold and go take a dip.

Given it’s our honeymoon, we’ve stepped things up a little in terms of drinks and meals. I suspect we may actually overdo things some!

We shopped like bandits all day, as we usually do here, then had a much enjoyed foot massage at MBK before braving the rain and heading back to the hotel. Given it is our honeymoon, The Metropolitan was nice enough to spot us a bottle of bubbles and some truffle chocolates. We didn’t need much encouragement to crack into it.


Just to add an extra dimension to the night, we wandered next door to have a drink at Vertigo/Moon Bar (Banyan Tree). A cocktail on the roof at the 60-something floor is pretty special. We like this place as it doesn’t attract the bogan crowd that Sirocco does, curtesy of The Hangover movie.

Moon Bar

As you know, and we have discussed numerous times, it’s hard to resist trying the “extra-special” restaurants in town. So last night we ate at Nahm. As you know, it’s in the hotel, so pretty convenient.

Julia at Nahm

Ok, so how did I enjoy it? Once the parents and the 3 young children left (at 9:30pm), things quietened down. A complimentary glass of bubbles helped (for honeymoon, not the children running around the restaurant screaming). Who allows kids to run around a restaurant like that? Even more so a restaurant ranked # 13 in the world (and best in Asia)?

Nahm Canapes

Alright, that wasn’t Nahm’s fault…the food? The amuse and the canapes were fabulous. I could have easily just kept eating them. What were they you ask? Check out the menu. The mains…this is where we were challenged, and I’m not sure in a good way. Sure the food was nice, but the flavours were all insanely over the top and the heat (chilli) in some of the dishes was simply too much for we mortals. We had: salad of fresh river prawns with pork and Asian pennywort (brilliant dish), kafir lime and smoked fish relish with sweet pork, salted fish dumplings and coconut poached bamboo and vegetables (equally brilliant), grilled duck curry with Bangkok plum leaves (we were told this was very spicy…it wasn’t, it was nicely spiced) and soft shell crab stir fried with chillies, holy basil and green peppercorns (this had the kick to it!). Julia had coconut and chicken soup with deep fried garlic, green mango and chilli and I had squid, pork and prawn soup. I couldn’t taste mine…the chilli had done its best on me by then!

Nahm mains

I think the thing for us was that while every dish was great in its own right, the table full of them was simply overpowering. They each got lost in the power of the others.

Pandanus Noodles Nahm

Dessert was the standout. I tried to distract Julia so I could taste hers, but she has wisened up to me in only 3 days of wedded bliss! Julia had pandanus noodles with black sticky rice, water chestnuts, tapioca and coconut cream. Meanwhile, I was content with custard apple in coconut cream with sesame biscuits.

Custard Apple Nahm

The wine list was a bit of a challenge. I simply wasn’t sure I was happy to fork out 4000B for a bottle of Thai wine? Granted, I know nothing about Thai wine. The balance of the selections was reasonable, but not inspiring. I was hoping a healthy selection of aromatic whites would greet me, a bunch of Gewürztraminers, Pinot Gris, Chenin Blancs and the like, but the choices were few and dare I say it, wanting.

Much more to do over the next little while. We’re off to Gaggan tonight, which I am thoroughly excited about, even if it is only ranked # 17 in the world!

Will let you know my thoughts on that before heading off to Luang Prabang on Friday.

Better head off for some more shopping.

Sawadee kap,


Pre-wedding diet


G’day Tony,

Ok, so I had to dust off the cob-webs (pardon the pun) and put some electrons on virtual paper. Humblest apologies for being off-line for so long, that’s if you missed me. If you didn’t miss me, sorry I am back.

Winter left in a hurry, replaced by all that is good about spring…except the snow melting, strong northerly winds, hayfever, the smell of dynamic lifter on the garden, changing clocks forward (daylight savings time) and school holiday madness in the city. Other than that, I love spring and all that it brings!

Our final weekend at Mt Buller brought together a great group of friends for a little bit of skiing and a lot of eating and drinking. A boisterous group at the lodge on the Saturday night partook in an array of goodies lovingly BBQ’d by Jim…chicken pieces marinaded in rosemary, garlic, chilli, olive oil and lots of fresh lemon zest and juice, slow braised pork belly (bbq’d to give a really nice caramelisation) courtesy of Alex and lamb rissoles with cumin, turmeric, smoky paprika, sumac, parsley and feta cheese…yep, fetta crumbled through the mix. Much, much goodness!

Some salads and freshly baked bread to round out the meat feast. Oh, and wine. Lots of wine!

Dessert was a surprise. I whipped up a chocolate self saucing pudding, while someone mixed together the fixings for a sticky date pudding. Confusion, wine, not sure which, but flour was inadvertently left out of the sticky date. Unsurprisingly the mix didn’t set. It was only then that the error was picked up. So, I did what any hungry (I was stuffed the gunnels, but still wanted sticky date pudding) I added a half amount of self raising flour, mixed and popped back in the oven. The comments when served surprised me…best sticky date pudding ever! Score!

The last few weeks have been a blur of pre-wedding diet food. Some stand out meals. Nah, who am I kidding. The stuff is okay, but is never going to substitute for real home cooked food!

Julia and I have an agreement. We must visit one nice restaurant a month. Not a big ask in a city like Melbourne. But being away every weekend and both of us super busy during the week, it simply hasn’t happened for a while. About to make up for it, though.

Was taken to Zia Rina’s Cucina by Phil from Armadale Cellars the other day for lunch. Phil’s been around the block a few times and he rates chef/owner Rina as good as any Michelin stared chef he’s seen on the continent. Must admit, the food is blindingly good. So much so, heading back there this week with a good friend who will be in town from Dubai. If any place can float Nick’s boat, this should do it. Oh, it’s BYO too, so I am going to hit Nick up to dust something off from his Arabian cellar…no doubt I will be doing the same from my cellar.

Honey-moon is fast approaching (next week). A few nights in Bangkok, to get into the groove. So, I booked us into Nahm and Gaggan. Both are listed in the top 50 restaurants in the world, but are they that good?

Sure, you can live it up in Thailand without spending a bomb, but I fail to understand how Nahm (rated #12 in the world) can cost BHT2,000/person (~AUD75.00) for degustation dinner, while the highest rated Australian restaurant, at #32, is giving you their experience at AUD190/person. I know, I know, this opens a Pandora’s box of arguments.

Pretty soon, we in Melbourne will play host to The Fat Duck. Yep, that Brayside stalwart which boasts a number of Michelin stars. For 6 months and 45 seats, that means 16,000 people will be served while they are in Melbourne. Getting a table…forget it. Ballot it will be, but at north of $525/person (ex-booze), it is almost cheaper to fly to England and experience it in its home location!

How much are you willing to spend (not including tip) and a meal to remember? Does it need to be a restaurant that is rated by Michelin, or S. Pellegrino or whichever is your go to restaurant reviewers?

For me, that memorable meal may be as simple as some hawker food on the foreshore of somewhere tropical, but it’s not going to stop me visiting Nahm and Gaggan. In the meantime, it is back to the microwave to “cook” dinner for tonight *sigh*

Catch you soon!