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.
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’s 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.
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.