Eating Out

Gaggan Pop Up at Eight Tables – San Francisco

The two Asian fine dining restaurants Gaggan and Eight Tables both made my Top 3 Restaurant’s of 2017. How cool to see them come together for this fun popup charity dinner! This event supported Chef’s for Change. Good food for a good cause? Gotta love these win wins.

We were served a condensed version of Chef Gaggan Anand’s iconic emoji tasting menu, paired with wine and sake. Compared to my dinner last year at Gaggan Bangkok, the amount of food this time was more manageable and the flavors better overall. The vibe was also quite different than either of my prior experiences with the two restaurants. Chef Anand introduced each course with a fun story, there was loud music blaring in the background, and service seemed much more carefree. The communal tables also made for a fun and social evening.

Gaggan at Eight Tables - Emoji Menu
Initial Emoji Menu – A smaller 17 course version for the pop up
Gaggan at Eight Tables - Lucky Table 88
We were seated at lucky table 88

Gaggan sommelier Vladamir made sure the wine and sake were flowing all night. I especially enjoyed the funky natural wines. I had a little too much fun and felt it the next day. Starting the night off with three glasses of champagne was my downfall, whoops!

Gaggan at Eight Tables - Wine Pairings
Wine Pairings

The first bite was the Gaggan classic of yogurt spherification, spiced with chaat masala.

Gaggan at Eight Tables - Yoghurt Explosion
Yoghurt Explosion, chaat masala

Next up was Lick It Up, a dish that introduced the nearly utensil-free theme of the menu.

Gaggan at Eight Tables - Lick It Up
Lick It Up – spiced edamame, mango yuzu, foie gras, spicy chili jam

Following this was a series of flavor-packed small bites combining Indian spices with other Asian flavors. Of note was a deliciously elevated pani puri (Puchka Secret Curry) and ‘Som Tam’ – an ice cream cone that was meant to evoke Thai papaya salad.

Gaggan at Eight Tables - Charcoal
Charcoal – fish and potato filled
Gaggan at Eight Tables - Chilly Egg Nest
Chilly Egg Nest, white chocolate, tamarind, mint, crispy noodle
Gaggan at Eight Tables - Mushroom Pav
Mushroom Pav
Gaggan at Eight Tables - Som Tam
Som Tam – Thai green papaya salad in ice cream form
Gaggan at Eight Tables - Puchka Secret Curry
Puchka Secret Curry, horseradish
Gaggan at Eight Tables - Uni Green Apple
Uni Green Apple, eggplant ice cream
Gaggan at Eight Tables - Toro Sushi
Toro Sushi, horseradish meringue

After these bites were the heavier courses, starting with a quail duo.

Gaggan at Eight Tables - Corn Quail Drip
Corn Quail Drip – quail breast with consommé of quail leg, corn husk & corn hair

The cold scallop curry was one of my favorite dishes. I’m not sure I’ve had cold curry before, but it absolutely worked with the extra soft, raw scallop texture.

Gaggan at Eight Tables - Scallops Cold Curry
Scallops Cold Curry – raw scallop, coconut milk, fried onion, curry oil, chili oil

The pork vindaloo momo had good flavor, though the black garlic dumpling skin was too doughy and thick.

Gaggan at Eight Tables - Momo Vindaloo
Momo Vindaloo – pork vindaloo, black garlic skin

The lamb chop was tender and had minimal gamey flavor, which I preferred.

Gaggan at Eight Tables - Lamb Chop
Lamb Chop, green chili, yuzu

In Bangkok, the banana leaf wrapped fish was one of my favorite dishes. On this night, the dish was probably the only dud. The fish was overcooked and dry, though the Begali curry was still delicious.

Gaggan at Eight Tables - Cutlass Fish Paturi
Cutlass Fish Paturi – seabass in banana leaf, Bengali mustard curry
Gaggan at Eight Tables - Cutlass Fish Paturi
Cutlass Fish Paturi unwrapped – seabass in banana leaf, Bengali mustard curry

The deceptively plain ‘Main Course’ was my favorite of the night. The blue crab curry over rice hit all the layers of complexity, while also evoking those simple comfort food feelings. Blue crab is also my favorite crab by far, and it was nice to see this over the much more common dungeness crab on the west coast.

Gaggan at Eight Tables - "Main Course" - Blue crab curry rice
“Main Course” – Blue crab curry rice. The winner!

Closing out the menu were two desserts. The Flower Power was not too memorable, while The Dark Side of the Moon was one of the most memorable desserts I’ve seen. Colorful splatters of fruit sauce and a triangle truffle were plated like the Pink Floyd album cover. This was also a ‘lick it up’ experience.

Gaggan at Eight Tables - Flower Power
Flower Power – milk, fried cookie, fig ice cream
Gaggan at Eight Tables - Dark Side of the Moon
Dark Side of the Moon – dark chocolate butter coffee truffle, strawberry, mango, mandarin, lemon (blue), blackberry

After the last course, we were given personalized chopsticks from Eight Tables. My first time dining here, I got black chopsticks (still my go to chopstick at home!), though they weren’t personalized.

Gaggan at Eight Tables - Personalized chopsticks
Personalized chopsticks

Along with the chopsticks was a new emoiji menu with the fun course names revealed. I was surprised to see no goat brain this time!

Gaggan at Eight Tables - Emoji Menu with Course Names
Emoji Menu with Course Names

After the kitchen tour, we received a bag of Eight Tables and China Live treats. My tipsy self devoured the cookies and granola on the ride home, and both were quite good, especially the almond granola with goji berries. I’m waiting for the right moment to break into that chili sauce!

Gaggan at Eight Tables - Take Home Gift
Take Home Gift – Cookies (almond, peanut butter sesame, and spiced chocolate chip), Almond Granola, Chili Sauce

As much as I enjoyed this experience, I was hoping for more incorporation of Eight Tables’ Chinese flavors into the tasting menu. I look forward to going back to Eight Tables for my fine dining Chinese fix!

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