The first new trader at Arcade Food Hall in Centre Point will specialise in Javanese fried chicken and duck served with salads and sambals, under the name Bebek Bebek!
It is the second opening at the food hall — now operated by lauded group JKS Restaurants — from chef and ingredient grower Luke Farrell, who will also open southern Thai restaurant Plaza Khao Gaeng on the mezzanine floor.
Farrell says the restaurant is devoted to the “heady combo of charcoal grilling, smoking, frying and spice marinade” that goes into two Indonesian dishes: bebek goreng and ayam penyet. The first is fried duck, the second smashed and fried chicken; both are native to the island of Java and the cities of Yogyakarta and Surabaya and rely on pungent, freshly pounded sambals made in pestles and mortars, which are also used to smash the meats to tenderise them.
“Specially imported flat pestle and mortars made with volcanic rock from Mount Merapi release the essential oils of crimson ‘devil’ chillies for sambals; crushed sour green mango, palm sugar and tamarind for dressings; and even pound the crispy-fried duck and chicken for that toothsome street food texture.”
As with Plaza Khao Gaeng, the menu will rest on supply lines between London and South East Asia — at Bebek! Bebek! Java, at Plaza southern Thailand — alongside Farrell’s Ryewater Nursery, where he has cultivated indigenous East and South East Asian ingredients for many years.
Unlike American, West African, and other frying traditions, in which chicken (or duck) are dredged or battered before being deep-fried, bebek goreng and ayam penyet are marinated in spice pastes, before being par-cooked in more spice pastes and then fried in oil to crisp up. At Bebek Bebek! the two key dishes will come with “kerupuk, salads spiked with pickles, tofu, tempeh, and tangy sambals.”
With further kitchens soon to be announced, it’s a promising start for the reboot. More soon.