- The Dish: Bruncho box
- The Place: 54 Frith Street, London W1D 4SL
- The Chef: Scott Hallsworth
What? Kicking off from October 21, guests to Freak Scene’s poster-plastered space can perch at the bar to watch the chefs at work on the flaming robata grills and enjoy a choice of two new ‘bruncho’ boxes, a tongue-in-cheek twist on traditional Japanese bento boxes.
Each brunch set will be packed with an array of signature Freak Scene small plates, featuring Hallsworth’s take on Asian flavours from Japan and further afield.
The B1 box will contain a takoyaki octopus doughnut – an Osaka street food classic – and a cold salmon sashimi chirashi (bowl of rice) with kimchi, avocado and house chips. As for meat, the meal includes a tea-smoked lamb chop, marinated in spicy Korean miso to give it a kick, while a soft bun is stuffed with homemade Thai pork sausage, Scotch bonnet mayonnaise and peanut salad.
The B2 box takes inspiration from bustling hawker houses and boasts a Singapore-style fried chicken lettuce cup, as well as Japanese staples such as tender black pepper short rib donburi (rice bowl) and nasu dengaku, an umami-rich miso grilled aubergine. There’s also Jerusalem artichoke chopsticks with truffle ponzu to dip and Hallsworth’s spicy black cod tacos in a fried wonton wrapper with sushi rice.
He has also put his spin on a menu of brunch classics: there’s cheese and onion mochi waffles with a poached egg and a pour of yuzu truffle sauce; and the Comedown Congee with confit chicken, Chinese sausage, fried dough and chilli oil.
Where? Freak Scene went from pop-up to permanent site and has been powering along since April. The concept was inspired by chef Scott Hallsworth’s experience in Japanese, Singaporean and Malay cooking. As Food Spark previously noted, the restaurant opened in Soho with a Southeast Asian-inspired menu.
Now Hallsworth and co-founder Phar Shaweewan are shaking things up again by launching Sunday brunch.
It’s not the only place giving brunch an international injection. Asian additions in particular have been taking off in New York and have also made their way over to London, kicking off with Nobu Hotel Shoreditch’s opening in August last year. It launched a Japanese-influenced breakfast, which included the likes of matcha waffle and chicken with smoked maple ponzu and pecan miso butter. Like Freak Scene, it created its own breakfast bento with umami seabass and versions of donburi, featuring scrambled eggs and flaky salmon topped with ikura (salmon roe) and scallions.
So while Freak Scene’s move into bruncho boxes isn’t a new idea, Nobu may well have warmed up the London crowd, with Hallsworth taking the idea from high end to more mainstream, including embracing dishes that dip into many parts of Asia. Plus, he’s evolving that concept a bit further by incorporating street food elements – and let’s face it, some of his crazy combinations are genuinely intriguing.
Why? Freak Scene follows the likes of Claw in Carnaby Street, which last year introduced its fast-casual breakfast called The Billingsgate: a smoked maple bacon and scallop breakfast muffin.
A number of other cuisines have jumped on the brunch train in the past year too, with Italian restaurant Radici creating its pizza topped with smoked salmon, yoghurt, poached eggs, avocado, prosciutto and mushroom, while Indian brunch options have infiltrated Soho’s Dum Biryani House as well as Waitrose. Elsewhere, Greyhound offers a Bangkok-style brunch.
It’s not surprising either as consumers seek out world flavours, particularly from regional areas.
Brits are also big spenders on brunch, collectively splurging £13bn each year.