Japanese Junk Food Tribute in Farringdon – Freak Scene:
An Izakaya is a kind of Japanese gastro-pub/tapas bar – designed for after work drinking and eating. If Scott Hallsworth’s previous venture, Kurobuta, achieved cult status for its Rock’n Roll styling, Freak Scene strips things back to basic, in a tiny space with an open kitchen and bar and a few tables, just a stone’s throw from Farringdon Station.
We started with a sake cocktail – pink grapefruit and sugar syrup to complement the sake and bring out the light citrus notes. There’s a short but innovative cocktail list, a range of sake, a few beer options soft drinks and the most concise wine list ever with just one red wine on offer. We took the hint and drank sake with the food – matched for us by the team at Freak Scene.
My dining companion is pescatarian so we picked the dishes from the first half of the menu – with a concession to my carnivorous habits at the end of the meal, which proved very worthwhile. I suspect if I was there after work I’d probably have opted for a meaty mouthful of what sounds like comfort food – the ‘chicken fried chicken with peanut soy and cucumber pickles. for example.
Instead, we enjoyed the chilli crab and avocado wonton bombs to start – deep-fried wontons filled with a spicy mixture of white and brown crab meat and soft avocado. Very delicious – I wanted more! Matched with a serving of Konishi silver sake it was a good start to the meal.
Next, miso-grilled black cod served in a taco with sushi rice, scorched red chilli and tomato salsa. The cod was deliciously flaky and had just the right level of sweetness. Sushi rice worked well as a way to mop up that miso glaze while the taco added texture to the dish. A serving of autumn leaves premium sake with notes of celery and pepper complemented the cod perfectly.
We both loved the quirky Loch Duart salmon sashimi pizza with truffle ponzu, jalapeño and wasabi tobiko. An unusual and delicious dish with ultra fresh salmon and just the lightest hint of truffle. At this point we were offered another cocktail – ‘Monkey goes to heaven’ with ginger syrup, apple and Monkey Shoulder blended scotch. It’s definitely not something I would have thought to order, but it did work beautifully with the next few dishes.
Perhaps my favourite of the evening was a luscious, sweet and velvety plate of miso grilled aubergine with caramelised walnuts, Nasi Dengaku.
Finally, I indulged in a plate of seared beef salad with pomegranate, onion-peanut ponzu and garlic crisps. The beef was charred but beautifully pink and tender and the mixture of flavours and textures worked brilliantly.
Would I go back – yes, in a shot if I happened to be in the area – it’s the sort of place where you could drop in and have as much or as little as you wanted to eat. Or if I was with a group of friends who just wanted somewhere to chill out, drink and eat. My companion was impressed too and walked out with a copy of Scott Hallsworth’s cookbook – Junk Food Japan – so I’m now looking forward to seeing how much of the food can be recreated at home.
91 Cowcross Street
London, EC1M 6BH
+44 7561 394 497