Scandinavian Influences at Restaurant Gaa in Bangkok Garima Arora's Eclectic Mix of Nordic, Indian & Thai Cuisines

Garima Arora used to be Gaggan Anand’s sous chef before she moved directly across the street (literally opposite of restaurant Gaggan) and opened up her own restaurant – Gaa. Being born in Mumbai, and having worked in Bangkok and Copenhagen (at Noma), Arora has found her own style of cooking that mixes both Indian and Thai cuisine with influences from her time in Scandinavia. That makes for a surprisingly tasty combination of flavors and ingredients! With only a 10-course (2200 TBH) and 14-course (2800 TBH) tasting menu to choose from, Gaa is definitely a fine dining restaurant, but the vibe is more relaxed and the interior quite informal, compared to many other establishments in the category.

Restaurant Gaa is located directly opposite of Gaggan
Restaurant Gaa is located directly opposite of Gaggan

Garima Arora’s Eclectic Mix of Nordic, Indian & Thai Cuisines

Garima has dubbed her style modern eclectic because it is a mishmash of influences from all over the world –wherever she has worked. The ingredients, however, are always locally sourced and seasonal, and they make absolutely everything in-house like garums and butter. The meal kicked off with one of the best dishes – a cold soup of mango, pumpkin, and various pickles. So refreshing and satisfying, with a very Noma-esque presentation. Chef Arora’s influence can sometimes be pinpointed even down to specific dishes, like her dessert of purple sweet potato and coconut cream, which I believe must have been inspired by Rosio Sanchez’ legendary dessert of potato purée, plum compote, and plum kernel cream from her time at Noma. A lovely tribute, in my opinion!

Another obvious Danish element was the puffed pancakes (Æbleskiver) which were stuffed with duck vindaloo and served with a variety of pickles on the side. It could also be a take on Japanese takoyaki, though, and, clearly, the filling connects it to India. Other dishes, like the grilled grouper wrapped taco-style in a caramelized crepe floss called Khanom-La, play on a traditional snack from Thailand. Yet again, I think Arora’s training from one of the world’s most influential restaurants shines through in the presentation.

Chilled soup of mango, pumpkin, kaffir lime oil, and pickles of mango and passion fruit
Chilled soup of mango, pumpkin, kaffir lime oil, and pickles of mango and passion fruit
Head chef at Gaa – Garima Arora
Head chef at Gaa – Garima Arora
The next dish was nesting in a tree
The next dish was nesting in a tree
Savory betel leaf with duck stock and herb salt
Savory betel leaf with duck stock and herb salt

Among my favorite bites at Gaa were the grilled potato mochis with salted duck egg cream and mustard flowers. Warm and gooey! Indian and Japanese inspiration once again. You have to applaud the no-waste philosophy as well, with all those recurring duck elements. Another big highlight was the grilled baby corn husks served in all its simplicity with a corn and butter emulsion dip. Incredible richness, sweet and salty flavors in harmony, and a pleasing acidity. Then there’s the brilliant combination of wild strawberries and caviar. Who even thinks of that? Finally, I love how Garima pays homage to her home country by lining up three toppings on the pork ribs with reference to the colors of the Indian flag – orange pomegranate, white diced onion, and green coriander.

Despite Garima’s influence from many of her previous employers, I found her menu exceptionally creative in its own right and remarkably pleasing. This was a meal right up my alley, and I’m going back to Gaa on my next Bangkok visit, no doubt.

Wanna read more about Gaa?

Review: Gaa by Eating With N.J.

Duck vindaloo inside a puffed pancake (æbleskive) with a selection of pickles
Duck vindaloo inside a puffed pancake (æbleskive) with a selection of pickles
The open puffed pancake with duck vindaloo and pickles
The open puffed pancake with duck vindaloo and pickles
Cosy atmosphere in the old townhouse where Gaa is located
Cosy atmosphere in the old townhouse where Gaa is located
Grilled potato mochi with salted duck egg cream and mustard flowers
Grilled potato mochi with salted duck egg cream and mustard flowers
Chicken liver and longan fruit on a crispy toast
Chicken liver and longan fruit on a crispy toast
Cow’s milk tofu, grilled leaves of mustard and pakchi farang
Cow’s milk tofu, grilled leaves of mustard and pakchi farang
Grilled baby corn husks with a corn and butter emulsion
Grilled baby corn husks with a corn and butter emulsion
The best mini maize I ever tasted
The best mini maize I ever tasted
Local wild strawberries and Royal Project sturgeon caviar with hor wor oil (700 baht extra)
Local wild strawberries and Royal Project sturgeon caviar with hor wor oil (700 baht extra)
Crayfish, pomelo, and cilantro flowers on a traditional Indian Khakhra cracker
Crayfish, pomelo, and cilantro flowers on a traditional Indian Khakhra cracker
Roasted cauliflower, caramelized whey sauce & blue crab
Roasted cauliflower, caramelized whey sauce & blue crab
Fish taco! Khanom-La with grouper
Fish taco! Khanom-La with grouper
Kiki presents Radikon! Legendary natural wine from the Slovenian/Italian border
Kiki presents Radikon! Legendary natural wine from the Slovenian/Italian border
Pork rib with pomegranate, onion, and coriander.
Pork rib with pomegranate, onion, and coriander.
Lamb Keema Pao & homemade butter
Lamb Keema Pao & homemade butter
Burnt coconut sugar ice cream, organic red rice cone & pork floss
Burnt coconut sugar ice cream, organic red rice cone & pork floss
Purple sweet potato & coconut cream
Purple sweet potato & coconut cream
Chocolate betel leaf with chocolate, fennel powder, and chutney
Chocolate betel leaf with chocolate, fennel powder, and chutney
Garima Arora was Gaggan's sous chef before she got her own restaurant
Garima Arora was Gaggan’s sous chef before she got her own restaurant

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