Arcade Food Hall Centrepoint – formerly known as Arcade Food Theatre – had something of a false start when it opened back in 2019. Less than eight months after it began welcoming diners to its fancy take on a food court, the pandemic hit and forced it to close.
Now it’s regrouped, changed its name and brought in some new restaurants to get the central London space buzzing once again. The first dining spots have been confirmed for the April reopening and they’ll be serving up delicious dishes that transport us far across Asia.
Chef Luke Farrell has joined up with JKS Restaurants (the group behind heavy hitters like Bao, Berenjak, Hoppers and Gymkhana) to open three spaces at the Arcade Food Hall. His inspiration? Fifteen years living in Thailand and experience of working in kitchens across southeast Asia. Plaza Khao Gaeng will pay tribute to southern Thai cuisine, with the restaurant inspired by an old Thai cinema. Its menu will be based around fresh curry pastes from small producers in Thailand, while the curries themselves will be set out on trays filling the ‘box office’ area.
Among Plaza’s offerings will be gaeng tai pla – smoky mackerel with fermented fish innards, bamboo shoots and Thai aubergine; southern sour orange gaeng som curry with garcinia, among other puckering fruits, and fish; and gaeng gati, a perfumed chicken and coconut curry with betel leaf. There will also be seasonal stir-fries like klua kling moo – wok-fried pork in a punchy southern curry paste – and goong pad sator – prawns with sator beans and pungent shrimp paste. Meanwhile, the drinks menu will boast a range of tropical cocktails, lime sodas, milky iced tea and coffee.
The chef’s second spot will be Bebek! Bebek! It’s an Indonesian street food kitchen whose menu will focus on traditional smoked duck and chicken from Javanese island Yogyakarta. Taking inspiration from the city’s night markets, expect wildly spiced bebek goreng duck leg, a sambal-slathered crunchy chicken leg called ayam penyet and sate maranggi – beef satay grilled over a waterfall of smoke. Other Indonesian staples, like kerupuk crackers, salads spiked with pickles, tofu, tempeh and tangy sambals, will also be available.
According to Farrell, the ‘secret’ to capturing vibrant Indonesian flavours lies in ‘a heady combo of charcoal grilling, smoking, frying and spice marinade’. ‘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,’ he continues.
A third restaurant from the chef will also join Plaza Khao Gaeng and Bebek! Bebek! at Arcade Food Hall, with details to be announced soon.