December 18, 2017

Days of burning tongue day 3: Christmas in Bangkok

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So... tonight was the whole reason for our short trip to Bangkok... the GohGan Christmas party - the 7th iteration of the collaboration between Gaggan Anand and Fukuyama "Goh" Takeshi (福山剛) dubbed GohGan.  We happened to be in Seoul a few months ago when the 6th iteration was held there, and we felt fortunate to have been part of it.  It was announced that night that they would have a Christmas party in Bangkok, so here we are!  Again, we are lucky to have been allowed to join the party.

We arrived shortly before the 9:30 p.m. second seating, but as usual the first seating was running overtime... So after greeting A at the door, we dutifully went back outside the glass house and waited.  And who should I find not 10 feet away from me, but Gert de Mangeleer from Hertog Jan - whose collaboration with the Sühring twins ended the night before I arrived in town?  I was glad to have a chance to catch up with him for the second time this year, even if I didn't get to taste this creations this time.

"Wine Boy" Vladimir Kojic came to say hello, and brought us glasses of Jacquesson (couldn't remember whether it was Cuvée 739 or 740 or...) to start our evening.  It was nice and went down easily, but I didn't want to get buzzed before taking my first bite.

On our way in, I spotted this big styrofoam box downstairs.  I guess we'll be having that, then...

Vladimir started us off by pouring Champagne from a methuselah...

Charles Ellner Grande Réserve Brut, en methuselah - yeasty with good acidity.

Champagne bon-bon - made with white chocolate wrapped around a liquid filling.  There was some acidity along with some Indian spices.

Caviar tequila experience - this was meant to mimic the experience of taking a tequila shot... where one licks the lime salt on one's hand before downing the shot.  In this case, you've got two different types of cream together with the caviar, and one licks the caviar and cream before taking a swig of the sake.  The cream and caviar combination was actually a little smoky.

Senkin Snowman unfiltered sake (千禽 雪だるま しぼりたて活性にごり酒), 2017 - with seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 50%.  Sweet with fermented rice flavors, but dry and spicy mid-palate.

Next we are shown 3 different types of Japanese sea urchin - Japanese green sea urchin (馬糞海胆), purple sea urchin (紫海胆), and the red variant of the Japanese green sea urchin (赤馬糞海胆).

Uni cabbage taco - each of us get two different tacos, and on the small cabbage taco shells we had purple sea urchin (left side) and a combination of the "normal" and the red variant of the Japanese green sea urchin (right side), topped with Shogoin turnip (聖護院蕪) sauce and pineapple chutney.  Definitely tasted some curry-like spice.

2014 Sebastien Riffault Sancerre Les Quarterons - really ripe and sweet, with crisp acidity that was just right.  Lovely floral notes. 

Asparagus and chutney wrap - the spear of asparagus had been freeze-dried, and wrapped with a red ribbon that looked like meat - which was, in fact, chutney made of tomato from Saga (佐賀).  Served with cream cheese sprinkled with asparagus powder.  The whole thing was crunchy and kinda crumbled in the mouth, while the tomato chutney ribbon delivered good amount of savory flavors as well as acidity.

Anago and mole kachori - so this is where the conger eel (穴子) ended up...  Inside the kachori (ਕਚੋਰੀ) at the bottom is some sweet potato purée as well as taro.  The two layers of conger eel on top were seasoned not with sweet soy sauce, but with mole.  A little spicy, but a little dab of finger lime caviar on top made things even more interesting.

Edamame and shitake 7/11 dog - inspired by the "American dog" (アメリカンドッグ, basically corn dogs) that are ubiquitous in Japanese convenience stores, this version was made with seasonal edamame (枝豆) and shiitake mushrooms (椎茸) - with chili sauce, chutney, and Japanese mustard as condiments.  Nice and spicy.

Foie gras stolen kaki duckboshi - a thin layer of stollen at the bottom, with discs of foie gras crème brûlée, topped with "duckboshi" flakes, aged persimmon (柿), and flowers.  The crème brûlée was, not surprisingly, rather sweet and creamy.  The duckboshi was smoky.  The stollen provided some candied citrus zest, and the persimmon also delivered some sweetness.  Very nicely balanced.

The "duckboshi" was made with duck breast aged for 5 days.  

2014 Christian Binner Muscat - very aromatic and floral.

Scallop, turnip, som-tam project - the thin tube of cold and crunchy Shogoin turnip (聖護院蕪) was stuffed with scallops, crunchy mango and papaya.  A little line of som tam (ส้มตำ) ice cream - with shrimp and anchovies - on top delivered some spicy flavors.

The thin shreds of crunchy mango and papaya inside the roll.

Kintoki carrot soup -   Apparently Gaggan and Goh each made a carrot soup and they blended it together.  Gaggan's version was inspired by carrot rasam (రసం), which is usually made with carrots, pepper, curry leaves, lentils, and tomatoes, but he only used Kintoki carrots (金時にんじん), coriander seeds, and peppers.  Wonderful flavors from the coriander seeds... and did I smell dill flowers?  I could have sworn this was a spicy tomato soup, but Gaggan swears that no tomato was used.  This was very, very delicious and comfort food.  Certainly warmed up the body.

Meiji maguro magic jelly - the baby tuna (メジマグロ) belly was covered in wasabi cream, kumquat (金柑) jam, a thin layer of dashi (出汁) jelly, and garnished with perilla flowers. Then smoked under a glass dome with genmaicha (玄米茶) and "magic powder".

Needless to say the belly of the baby tuna was very, very tender... but the jelly on top had become very, very smoky.

And this would be one of those rare occasions when I would eat the tuna offered to me out of respect for the chef - since I wasn't given an opportunity to notify them about my dietary preferences.

2015 Frank Cornelissen Contadino - a little pungent on the nose.  Stemmy and slightly bitter, with lots of ripe fruit.

Akamutsu yuzu, celery and chilli - the rosy seabass (赤鯥) with crispy skin came with crispy celeriac chips.  Then a dashi made with the head, bones, and other parts of the fish cooked in sake lees (酒粕) along with yuzu (柚子) and green chilis was poured on top.  This was slightly on the salty side, and the yuzukosho (柚子胡椒) definitely delivered the expected kick.

Bresse chicken yakitori and truffles - simple and delicious, if slightly overcooked. 

The soup was made with the other parts of the Bresse chicken along with black truffles, onions, and what looked like Kintoki carrots.  This was very delicious.

2011 François de Nicolay Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Fontenys - slightly pungent, a little stemmy and bitter, with good amount of sweet fruit.  Slightly chewy tannins.

Gohgan curry No. 7 - this was it.  The curry rice.  I had tasted the previous version in Seoul, and was looking forward to the "new and improved" version tonight.  It's always made with crab - this time back to Alaskan king crab - and Gaggan joked about having killed the crab in a humane fashion - a refresh to the backlash he received after posting this video.

Ever since my first time in February this year, whenever I am asked about how big a bowl of curry rice I wanted, I would always answer "XXL". As far as ingredients go, in addition to the usual suspects, we've also got a lot of edamame as well as (curiously) caviar.  I was getting pretty full halfway through my bowl, but there was no way I would leave anything behind... so of course I powered through it.

The desserts tonight would once again be taken care of by Hiratsuka Makito (平塚牧人) - the pastry chef at Le Moût in Taichung who was responsible for one of my favorite dishes last year - one of only two desserts out of a list of 31 dishes.  He was also the creator behind the desserts at the last Gohgan, and tonight would be his third time as part of the team.

Strawberry sake Santa - a sake cake was sandwiched between two halves of Amaou (あまおう) strawberries.

Marguet Shaman 14 Rosé - ripe with lots of strawberries.

Mulled wine Christmas balls - cracking open the shell revealed roasted apple espuma, mulled wine jelly, and two balls made with anise and cinnamon.  Honestly, though, this was probably my least favorite dish tonight.  I didn't get it.

Christmas yule cake - but all was well with the bûche de Noël.  The flavors were all Japanese citrus, and after presenting it to all of us, the lights were turned off while Makito-san used a torch to light the yuzu vodka spray.  I liked how citrusy the whole thing was - including the cream - and of course the frozen mango in the center.  A great way to finish.

Finally, we were presented with our Christmas pudding - which had been soaked in a ton of brandy.

With the end of service, it was time to turn up the music and party!  Gohgan is nothing if not fun!

As I had suspected, my offer to pay for my meal was declined.  Thankfully I had come prepared, and had brought along 3 bottles of wine as gifts for the Wine Boy - including 2 bottles of bong water!  I look forward to seeing these guys again soon... and hopefully in Hong Kong!  Or maybe at that new bong water bar that Wine Boy is setting up right next to Gaggan...

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