Thai noodles called khanom jeen that are traditionally fermented for 205 hours will be a focal point at new pop-up Pestle, which is being launched next month by former Smoking Goat head chef Seb Holmes and the restaurant’s front of house manager Thom Lawson.
“We experimented a lot to try and find a way to speed the process up and we have started to make them in a similar way to sourdough,” says Holmes. “The process involves creating a ‘starter’ of fermented rice flour, which is added to the dough being used to make the noodles. This is then left overnight to ferment before being rolled, with a little held back to add to the next batch of noodles.”
The khanom jeen will be served with herbs – some of which will be foraged from around London – along with a host of curries, including a green curry of smoked rabbit and a red jungle curry with mussels and clams.
Although only 25, Holmes has an impressive background in Thai cooking. Prior to overseeing the Thai barbecue-style food at Soho’s Smoking Goat he worked at Peckham’s The Begging Bowland with Andy Oliver at his long-running Som Saa pop-up.
Time consuming: Khanom jeen noodles
He said: “Although I have been to Thailand that’s not really where I learned about Thai food – that happened in London over the last five or so years. David Thompson (of Bangkok’s Nahmrestaurant) is one of the world’s best Thai chefs and he taught a lot of the people I worked with at The Begging Bowl. I kind of learnt from him second hand.”
He added: “Thai food is having a real boom in London at the moment. It has been around for ages but is hasn’t been correct – now restaurants such as The Begging Bowl and Smoking Goat are introducing it as it should be.”
Hot stuff: Smoking Goat (Picture: Paul Winch-Furness)
Pestle will launch on August 26 with a two night stint at The Winemaker’s Club in Farringdon. Beyond this Holmes says that they have three or four more sites already in the pipeline for future pop-ups while the plan is to launch a permanent site as soon as they can.
Holmes said: “Using incredible quality produce is really important to us. We are having ingredients air-freighted from Thailand twice a week and we think diners will taste the difference. A lot of the food will be quite traditional, but it’s more about being made-from-scratch rather than trying to be authentic – that’s a term I’m wary to use.”
At the Winemaker’s Club, Pestle’s starters will include sweet chilli fish balls, satay and grilled pork skewers (moo ping), while the noodles and curries will take centre stage and salted turmeric butter roti will be available on the side. Pudding will be banana fritters with salted tamarind caramel and pandan and condensed milk ice cream.
Future pop-ups will also feature Thai-inspired cocktails which will be devised by Lawson, who was head bartender at Caravan in King’s Cross before joining Smoking Goat.