1. Farang
    Farang
  2. Farang
    Farang
  3. Farang
    Farang
  • Restaurants | Thai
  • price 2 of 4
  • Highbury
  • Recommended

Review

Farang

5 out of 5 stars

Chef Sebby Holmes's flavoursome Thai pop-up turned permanent north London neighbourhood restaurant.

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Time Out says

Like the lifespan of a mayfly or the harrowing music career of footballer Paul Gascoigne, Farang was only ever meant to be a short-lived affair. Former Smoking Goat and Begging Bowl chef Seb ‘Sebby’ Holmes temporarily took over his step-dad’s terrazzo-tiled Highbury trattoria San Daniele in 2017 to serve zippy Thai food. His plan was to bring sweet, fragrant heat and confident stir-fried dishes to a room more suited to ragus and ricotta for as long as people wanted it. Six years later, and they haven’t stopped turning up in their hungry droves. Not just a firm neighbourhood favourite, Farang is now a global phenomenon, and proudly displays a phalanx of pillar box red Michelin Bib Gourmand shields outside its front door. 

One of north London’s most lowkey dining rooms, Farang is a decent enough saunter from both Finsbury Park and Highbury & Islington tubes that nobody will simply stumble across it. You go because you know. And though the Thai Embassy has given it their seal of approval, Farang’s name (which means ‘white foreigner’) shows us that Holmes is under no illusions that his cooking is steeped in generations of family tradition. What it is, however, is a passionate and masterful display of technique, skill and sheer ingenuity, without being nearly as wanky as that sounds. 

Gai prik, a crispy IPA-battered chicken with a fish sauce glaze, was presented like a glam auntie’s fascinator at a wedding, its thick batter and potent spice levels just as likely to seduce you on the culinary dancefloor. 

A case in point; Farang is only open Wednesday to Saturday, partially because the fresh produce they source from Bangkok leaves the city on a Sunday and it takes that long to land in London. Farang’s dedication to using the best and most authentic ingredients is laudable, while also being extremely likely to get on the wrong side of Greta Thunberg. 

At £55 a head, the feasting menu – which, Holmes tells us, is called ‘feasting not tasting, because we want you to feel like you’re in our home and we’re feeding you up and getting you pissed’ – offered a heroic amount of food and an equally impressive number of moving parts. After a fiery and filling opener of coconut chilli jam with house fried shrimp and white pepper crackers, came a sweet and salted turmeric prawn miang of toasted coconut and peanut caramel with sour fruits. Served in an edible betel leaf, it comprised 42 ingredients, nearly all of which were faultlessly reeled off tableside by its chef, before we chomped the surprising palm-sized salad down in seconds. It was, truly, nature’s own Kinder Egg. 

Gai prik, a crispy IPA-battered chicken, with a fish sauce glaze, blood orange, fresh herbs and lime, was presented like a glam auntie’s fascinator at a wedding, its thick batter and potent spice levels just as likely to seduce you on the culinary dancefloor. Even prettier was the sharing crispy seabass, twisted back on itself like a spiral staircase, and dripping with a febrile coconut and mandarin nahm yum

We could, at this point, rolled contentedly all the way down Blackstock Road to Rowan's, but the show was far from over. A coconut curry of tiger prawns with white turmeric and crispy shallots was delivered alongside fabulous folds of crispy, oily roti and rice. Most of it went in a takeout box due to the fact our gluttony – and stomach – only extends so far, but was dutifully devoured the next morning. Here’s to Farang’s limitless hospitality – and another six years at the very least. 

The vibe A never-not-busy neighbourhood favourite 

The food Overwhelmingly fresh Thai food, with salad-leaning small plates and bold curries. 

The drink Wine comes by the glass, but to balance the spice levels, get on the Thai beer – order Singha and you’ll get four bottles for a super reasonable £10.50.

Time Out tip If you’re not sure how hungry you are, then plump for the a la carte option, but ignore the betel leaf bites at your peril (at three for £9, how could you not?)

Details

Address
72 Highbury Park
Highbury
London
N5 2XE
Transport:
Tube: Arsenal
Opening hours:
Weds: 5-9pm, Thurs - Sat: 12-2:30pm and 5-9pm
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