JKS Restaurants is to launch a series of London restaurants with Luke Farrell, a chef and grower of native Asian ingredients, this April.
Farrell's first two sites, southern Thai restaurant Plaza Khao Gaeng and Indonesian-inspired Bebek! Bebek!, will trade at Arcade Food Hall Centrepoint in London's Tottenham Court Road, which looks set to finally relaunch next month. The venue originally opened in 2019 but is being overhauled by JKS after closing during the pandemic.
Farrell previously ran a Vietnamese bánh mì shop in London and did a stage at JKS' Michelin-starred restaurant Trishna in 2009.
For the past 15 years he has been travelling and working in kitchens across Southeast Asia, acquiring hundreds of seeds and cuttings which he has cultivated at his own nursery in Ryewater, Dorset, and supplies restaurants and the Thai embassy in London.
JKS co-founder Karam Sethi said: "I first met Luke in 2009 when he was a stagier at Trishna and have since followed what he's been up to from a distance.
"He's an encyclopaedia on all things Thai and Southeast Asian and the first person I called to work with on the Thai restaurant at Arcade. I can see similarities between the Indian food market in London in 2008 and the Thai food market currently.
"There is a genuine love for the cuisine and the opportunity to showcase pure, regional Thai food using the ingredients of Thailand is exciting."
Plaza Khao Gaeng will take over the mezzanine overlooking the main space at Arcade Food Hall. Khao gaeng translates as ‘curry over rice' and the restaurant is described as a ‘celebration of Southern Thai cuisine'.
It will offer curries such as Gaeng Tai Pla (smoky mackerel with fermented fish innards, bamboo shoots and Thai aubergine); and Gaeng Gati (a perfumed chicken and coconut curry with betel leaf).
Seasonal stir-fries will include Klua Kling Moo (wok-fried pork in a punchy southern curry paste); and Goong pad Sator (prawns with sator beans and shrimp paste).
Bebek! Bebek! Is an Indonesian-style kitchen opening in the main food hall. Inspired by a night market stands, its menu will focus on smoked duck and chicken from Yogyakarta.
Dishes will include Bebek Goreng duck leg or Ayam Penyet (a crunchy chicken leg ‘smashed' and slathered in sambal). These will be accompanied by crackers, salads spiked with pickles, tofu, tempeh and tangy sambals.
JKS said there is ‘more to come' from Farrell, with details of another project set to be announced shortly.
JKS was founded by the Sethi family in November 2008 and includes brands such as Bao, Berenjak, Hoppers, Gymkhana, Kitchen Table, and Sabor.