Freak Scene, an Asian-fusion pop-up in Clerkenwell
17th August 2017
I had high hopes for this place and wow, it absolutely did not disappoint. If you’re in London then get down to this quirky little Freak Scene pop-up quick, it won’t be around forever!
Freak Scene describes its food as ‘Curious Asian Plates’ and is the brainchild of world-renowned chef Scott Hallsworth, formerly head chef at Nobu Park Lane, London, for six years. As soon as I heard that, I was excited. I blogged ages ago about visiting Nobu Budapest and how truly delicious everything we ate was (and much cheaper than the London spot!!), so we were expecting some Nobu quality in a humble little pop-up joint just a couple of minutes from Farringdon Station and our St. John’s Square showroom, and that’s just what we got.
Scott’s lovely partner looked after us all night, we sat up at the bar and chatted away to her and watched on as the chefs prepared the yummiest food for us and the packed little restaurant.
Ok time for the best bit – the food.
‘Tuna Sashimi Pizza with truffle ponzu, jalapeno and wasabi tobiko’ – a real taste sensation, amazing flavours and textures and every mouthful just gets better and better. The tuna sashimi tastes as fresh as can be, the little hint of truffle is insane, the tobiko has a slight crunch and the fried wonton base is crispy and light and so so good. This is a must-try!!!
‘Miso-grilled Black Cod Tacos with sushi rice and scorched red chilli and tomato salsa’ – I’ve never tasted anything quite like this, the cod was sweet and then it turned kind of smokey and hot and sticky, it was incredible. Served in a crisp wonton shell, it’s not your usual soft taco tortilla but this asian twist is so clever and I cannot recommend this dish enough.
Next up was ‘Chicken-fried Chicken with peanut soy and cucumber pickles’ – Ok, I’m going to say it again, but this really was something else. This dish had a bit more of a Chinesey vibe to it, the guys at Freak Scene recommended we shred the chicken, as you would with a Chinese crispy duck, so we did just that and the chicken literally melted off the bone into little pieces of total yuminess. The chicken is confited and then fried in chicken fat – so that’s where the chicken-fried chicken name comes from. The peanut dipping sauce is sticky and tangy and sweet and crunchy and the pickles add the perfect touch of acidity and tartness.
‘Seared Beef Salad with pomegranate, onion-peanut ponzu and garlic crisps’ – super light and fresh, the most tender beef I have probably ever had, very slightly seared on the edges and perfectly rare in the middle. Crunchy iceberg lettuce, the most delicious soy dressing and a sprinkling of little pink pomegranate seeds that popped with every mouthful. I could quite happily eat this for my tea every single night. It was so good that we didn’t manage to get a photo before we ate the entire plate…. sorry!!… but here’s a pic of the lovely chefs hard at work.
‘Thai Red Curry of Duck Leg with Lychees’ – Now I’m not really a fan of duck (unless it’s the crispy kind from a Chinese takeaway, all wrapped up in a steamed little pancake with hoisin sauce!) so I was unsure how I’d feel about this one… but I should have learnt by then, that every single thing that makes its way out of that Freak Scene kitchen is a crazy and incredible plate of pure deliciousness. This wasn’t your average curry, it wasn’t heavy or creamy or fake tasting, it was a perfectly cooked duck leg sitting on what I’d describe more like a dressing than a curry sauce. Of course it had those classic red curry vibes, but the flavours were so light and delicate and fragrant, the meat literally melted off the bone and even the steamed rice that it was served with was some of the tastiest, fluffiest rice I’ve ever eaten. mmmmmm.
Oh and not forgetting the ‘Chilli Crab and Avocado wonton bombs’ – Luckily for us the chef had made extra of these, so we got to try a couple on the house. Little parcels filled with the freshest crab, a proper kick of chilli and then a hit of smooth, lemony avocado.
I guess this really is fine dining but in a very relaxed and chilled atmosphere. You’re served top quality food by the friendliest staff, and with dishes ranging from £6-£12, a very fair price tag too – pretty much my idea of heaven. If you’re into Asian cuisine, I really think you’re going to love this place. And I can’t forget to mention one of the best bits… you can actually book a table, yay!!! Freak Scene will be around until September, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it might make this little spot in Clerkenwell its permanent home!
– Find Freak Scene at 91 Cowcross Street, London, EC1M 6BH & book your table online here.
– Currently BYOB but they should be back serving alcohol within a couple of weeks – I’ve heard the cocktails are fab!
– Thank you to my wonderful big bro Max for taking these photos, find him on Instagram @mxprker