In Bangkok's highly competitive fine-dining scene, Gaa stands out from the rest, thanks to Chef Garima Arora’s willingness to break the boundaries that define Thai, Indian and Western fare. Relying on creativity and sheer audacity, Chef Garima reconstructs these cuisines through a beautiful series of dishes that highlight a meticulous exploration of Thai and Indian ingredients.
The Mumbai-hailing journalist-turned-chef, who’s had experiences at Noma and Gaggan under her belt, has proven that she’s one to watch in the global culinary scene. This year, she was named Asia’s Best Female Chef by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, and her restaurant was once again given a star by the Michelin Guide Thailand.
In her new tasting menu for Gaa, Chef Garima reveals a delightful complexity to familiar flavors by taking local ingredients to the next level. A gazpacho reveals sweet and tangy tastes from a blend of marian plum, tomato, pomelo, and grapes. The chicken liver and longan, a stayover from the previous tasting menu, give off a creamy mouthful, while grilled young corn brushed with chili and paired with corn emulsion, another favorite from last season’s offering, is still insanely addictive.
Crayfish is now served two ways—one lying on khakhra (crispy flat bread) and brushed with crayfish oil, and another in prawn fat with radish, wasabi and beef garum.
But what really leaves an impression are ingredients that are seemingly antagonistic to one another or “negative food pairing,” as the chef puts it. Bread, local caviar and banana water, which you would never think of combining, are served together in one course—and the result is pure magic. The main dish goes against the the grain by showcasing a non-meat item—unripe jackfruit is grilled and served in a sharing portion with a variety of condiments, pickles and roti. Even the dessert—pork floss and burnt coconut sugar ice cream—sounds like a terrible disaster, but it was exceptional.
A meal at Gaa is ambitious and exciting without being too far-fetched. Only for Chef Garima’s culinary magic that we dare say this is one of the best restaurants in town.