By Veronica Inveen
Jan 7, 2020
By Jeninne Lee-St. John.
The filter-free tornado of a chef seemingly everyone has an opinion on had quite the controversial 2019: in the main event, a blow-up with his former business partners led Gaggan Anand to quit the Michelin two-starred fine-diner that ranked No. 4 on World’s 50 Best list and made him globally famous, and move to a new restaurant across town with most of his staff… and his reservations log (they’re honoring bookings from the old place for those who still want to come).
Gaggan Anand is a gorgeous garden-draped villa that launched in November after only two months of planning and took in US$300,000 worth of deposits on the day bookings opened. The big guy is still the boisterous ringmaster in his new 14-seat chef’s table, dubbed G’s Spot, though he shares the spotlight with his collaborative team of chefs and somms, as well as the guests, whom he surveys pre-meal on their favorite rock songs and most hated ingredients to better facilitate chat, karaoke and truth-or-dare among strangers over their four-plus-hour, yes, still 25-course dinner.
The menu now, though, involves a lot more actual cooking than before (“We’re working on things that used to be our weaknesses,” he says) including more substantial protein dishes—the lentils soaked with fish head is more crave-worthy than it sounds and the ethically raised Aussie lamb is as close to melty Wagyu as they proclaim. Another big change: all guests in the new, sexily lit main dining room upstairs also have a view of some action, with two open kitchen areas revealing how, for example, their top-shelf, artery-busting version of surf and turf (i.e., monkfish fatty liver and foie gras) is put together. The expansive wine cellar is all about the biodynamics, just one example of how the place embraces green responsibility in its own way. Says Gaggan: “We give you what’s in season in its natural home because that’s ecologically sustainable.”
A couple of other places where you’re unlikely to get a table soon, though that shouldn’t stop you from trying: first, Sorn Fine Southern, one of the first Thai-cuisine restaurants with two stars in the world, is a fiery, fascinating roadtrip through the country’s hottest region, which chefs Ice Jongsiri and Yod U-Prumpruk regularly visit to investigate lost recipes, flavors and varietals of crops and produce, and to commune with their small-time suppliers.
Then there’s the new Blue by Alain Ducasse. Entering the bright space that overlooks the Chao Phraya River, you’d be forgiven for wondering if Alain Ducasse is a chef or a brand. With dozens of restaurants and innumerable Michelin stars, the culinary legend is both. It’ll be your own tastebuds proffering accolades when you try Blue’s contemporary French menu, where light dishes, such as blue crab with tomato-water gelee and a dollop of gold caviar, predominate.