Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Street food revolution

The list of great street food places is almost never ending, from KERB to Broadway market, London is truly spoilt for choice. New vendors are popping up all the time and we have got on board the revolving door that is 'London's best street food'. Make sure to check out their twitter feeds to make sure where they are on a particular day. 
Between us we get through a lot of street food. Without the need for overheads and operating costs of a proper restaurant the savings are past down to the customer, so you can get great quality food for fantastic value. The standard of street food is so high in London at the moment, it's not a surprise that the cream of the crop are now starting to open their own permanent ventures. 
This page will keep track of most of the street food we try out, so keep coming back for updates. What's your fav?

Ribman @theribman (Owen's Pick of the Bunch)
To be found:
Kings X Thurs, City point Fri, Brick Lane Sundays

Ribman stripping the meat from the bones

This is heavenly stuff, self described as 'the best ribs in London', while normally I'm put off by these declarations, I think you'd have to go far to disprove this. Mark..sorry Ribman..slow cooks these babyback ribs over several hours until the meat is literally falling off the bone. This tender meat is the main constituent in either a soft bun or a wrap, or if you dont mind getting messy you can have a rack of ribs. For £5 you get a fair amount of rib meat, and combined with some hair raising hot sauce of the aptly named 'Holy f**k' or 'Christ on a bike' sauce it is a monumental bargain, I think I've grimly spent this much on a baguette at Upper Crust. This will leave you with a smug satisfied grin on your face, or tears rolling down your cheeks if you can't take the kick from the sauce! Look up anything to with street food in London and Ribman is always there - Owen

Kimchi Cult @kimchicult (Shahz's Pick of the Bunch)
To be found: Gherkin Thurs

Korean cuisine is one of our favourite Asian cuisines, combining excellent cuts of meat with sharp, spicy flavours. Which all makes sense as to why Kimchi cult works so well. It combines Bulgogi, which is a good cut of steak (usually rib-eye or sirloin) marinated in a rich, umami-heavy mixture of Korean spices and chilli, with kimchi (the famous spicy radish ubiquitous in Korean cooking). I'm aware that Hawksmoor has been serving this for a number of years, but the fast food version just exemplifies everything that's great about the street food scene in London: great ingredients, attention to detail and a very original concept (in this setting at least!). The only thing that prevents me from all out loving this ''burger'' is the attempt to fuse in Mexican ingredients into this dish. It's good to have some greens with all the heavy meats but guacamole and jalapenos with Kimchi? I'm not wholly convinced to be completely honest. Otherwise it's excellent. Highly recommended! - Shahz

See also: The Korean pancake (Japchae) stall at Brunswick on Saturday mornings/lunch. Really nice guy working there, and excellent pancakes (try the prawn if you can) for very reasonable prices! Will put extra chilli sauce if asked :-)

Luardos @Luardos
To be found: Whitecross market Mon-Fri, Kings X Wednesday, Gherkin Thurs

Compared to the usual average burritos I get from places like Benitos Hat, Luardos is heaven sent. It's soo much different when it's done properly and the meat is of great quality and not overcooked! Aswell as either pork, beef, chicken filling it is ladened with rice, black beans, cheese, sour cream, and guac for a bit extra (well worth the 50p). The freshness of the ingredients comes through and they balance each other well. I usually go for the 'carnitas' with slow cooked pork with orange & fennel. Absolutly fantastic. Come with an appetite cause these are really filling, and be prepared for the afternoon food coma that ensues! - Owen

Pizza Pilgrims @Pizzapilgrims
Berick Street, Soho

Pizza Pilgrims are an interesting story having been on a 'Pilgrimage' to Italy to find their little Piaggo Ape van and oven where they also learned the trade to cook pizzas the authentic way. Quality pizzas are few and far between in London, Saporitalia in Portabello Rd, Santore in Exmouth market, Santa Maria in Ealing (yet to check out franco manca before you ask), but I can now add Pizza Pilgrims to that list. I was at a night run in Battersea park to support and luckily PP were there with no queue when everyone went off to run. I seized the opportunity and got a 'Ndjua. Within a couple of minutes, hot from the oven I had my pizza, so simple, tomato sauce, mozzarella, Ndjua and few leaves of basil. It doesn't need to be any more complicated than that. For £6 aswell is a great deal considering how much even low quality, over seasoned pizza, such as dominos cost. I'm hooked. I hear they are in process of finding something a bit more concrete, look forward to this, as long as they have a collection of vans all parked up in the kitchen with ovens in the back!
 - Owen
Do not cross the rope barrier

Inside the fire
Nduja pizza - Simple but amazing

Miss P's Barbecue @Misspsbarbecue
To be found: Currently InKERBating (Kings X & the Gherkin), check their twitter feed 

Summer is a great time of year, we get a whole 5 days of brilliant sunshine and warm weather, and barbecue season (and excess meat consumption) begins. Now that the Pitt Cue co trailer is now redundant, there hasn't been anyone trying to fill the void they have left...until now.
Miss P's BBQ have arrived with their 'Bad boy beef ribs' doused in their own glaze cooked 'low and slow' are sensational. It would be wrong to say they are just a Pitt Cue Co copycat, I'm now constantly on their twitter feed to see where they will pop up next salivating at the prospect of some more. I'm in a serious threat of gout. Breaking through their short ribs smoke rings are evident is testament to their smoking process using lumpwood and oak to create a southern style barbecue. That glae they use is gorgeous, the spicy sauce although flavoursome is lacks a real punch you get some thing like ribman's Holy fuck.
Aswell as their short ribs, they also do pulled pork and cajun catfish sandwiches. Throughly recommend trying them out

Kimchinary @kimchinary
To be found: Regularly seen at Street Feast, and InKERBating (Kings X and the Gherkin)

Spawning from Kitchinette, te UK's 1st kitchen incubator, Kimchinary has burst onto the street food scene to much acclaim for their korean ssam & tacos. A fantastic combination of flavours of kimchi, sesame, chives, gochujang, with bold meaty  flavours of either pork belly or ox cheek/short rib bulgogi. It's bit of a cliché, but unashamedly so, they really are a flavour sensation. The bulgogi was my favourite with the richness of the slow braised beef complementing the multitude of korean inspired falvours. For only £6 for 2 tacos, you are left with a full belly, smile on your face, and jucies down your chin, kamsahamnida Hanna!

Mother Flipper @motherflipperuk
To be found: Broadway market saturday

As the guys at meatwagon move on to bigger, better (and more permanent) things at meatliquor and meatmarket, the influence of that London favourite are clearly felt at this popular food truck. Not least in the flavour combination of the chuck steak, brioche bun and sauce eerily reminiscent of the dead hippie sauce (itself an homage to the Big Mac sauce). The one notable difference (purely a matter of personal taste here) is that it doesn't ooze out buckets of guilt-inducing burger grease (Black Palace burger I'm looking at you here). Whilst this makes for a lighter burger overall, leading to more productive afternoons in the office (wahey!) it doesn't quite make it as satisfying an experience. However, the quality of the meat was excellent, if cooked slightly above the advertised medium level. Isolating these guys as an offender in this regard is slightly unfair as this is a very common occurrence in many burger places in London right now. Definitely one of the best of the street food burgers.
These guys recently did a pop-up in the Black Heart, Camden, we went along a few times, safe to say they were even better behind a proper kitchen. The bacon swiss was great and the truffle garlic mayo to go with their chips was superb aswell - Shahz

Big Apple Hot Dogs @BigAppleHotDogs
To be found:
Old St Tues-Fri, now at shoreditch brewdog

BAHDs have a fine reputation from many as the 'best 'dogs this side of the atlantic' and it's well deserved, you won't find much better in London at least. There is quite a variety of choice as well from polish sausage, frankfuter, and mixture of beef and pork dogs. From £3-5 they remain extremely good value. You are spoilt for choice with their range of condiments, everything you can think off from hot sauce, usual ketchup&mustard, sauerkraut, gherkins.
Usually they can be found at Old Street, or at various KERB markets

The selection...choices,choices
This time I got the Big Frank, a frankfurter bulding out of it's bun ladened with extra onions, sauerkraut and ketchup. It is damn good, gives a nice snap as you bite into it, and magnificent meaty sausage inside. The Big Frank has exactly the right girth, not too thick so you can't fit it in your mouth, and not too thin...Goldilocks would definitely be satisfied. I'll be back along soon to top up my loyalty card. Highly recommend

The Big Frank
Banhmi11 @Banhmi11uk
To be found: Berwick Street Tues-Thurs, Broadway market, Chatsworth road sunday

Vietnamese cooking has been around in London for a good while, concentrated around the traditional community hubs in the east of the capital. However, it appears that one of the most popular trends these days (along with peruvian ceviche and american comfort food) is Banh mi, a french-vietnamese fusion dish involving a baguette filled with grilled meat along with mayonnaise, shredded carrot, daikon, cucumber and coriander. It's so popular in the city right now that you can even find a version of the dish in the healthy, fast food sandwich chain Eat. The quality of the baguette that the vendors use play a very importnat part in the success of this KERB/Berwick St market regular. These are freshly baked and lightly toasted leading to a soft, doughy texture which contrasts with the usual jaw-breaking crunchy baguettes commonly served in train stations and aforementioned  fast food chains in London. I had mine with beef, but chicken, pork tofu and fish were also available and looked fantastic too. Good value, tasty ingredients, reasonable price..and add to that a permanent Banhmi11 shop opening in Shoreditch? Things can only get better for these guys - Shahz

Bhangra Burger @BhangraBurger
To be found: Pop-up in the Black Heart, Camden for 1 month

Taking the meat in a bun concept to a whole new level (or continent, if you will), Bhangra burger offers a variety of different types of spiced, grilled patties within tortilla bread (some naan would be nice, but maybe it's not feasible to do so in a food truck). The spice combination on the patties combined with the pickles and onions is what makes this one stand apart from the competition. I had the lamb jalfrezi and was suitably impressed by the spicy, sweet and sour flavour combinations. It's quite unique and not surprisingly a street food icon for many years now -  Shahz

You doughnut! @you_doughnut
To be found:
Kings X Thursday, Citypoint friday

There's very few sweet snacks in this world as satisfying as doughnuts. I've yet to see a box of Krispy Kremes at our uni office which has anything left inside by the time I find it. Yet, we're still used to only having them from the supermarket or bakery and not freshly deep fried. You doughnut! takes on the admirable job of bringing back real doughnuts to the people! Featuring a cute stall and delicious cinammon-tinged flavouring, it's the perfect accompaniment to the walk home from KERB (just to walk off the calories at the very least!) - Shahz

Little sugary balloons!
Yum bun @Yum_Bun
To be found:
Opening their own place in Old St!

Yum bun pretty much encapsulates our modus operandi of ''meat in a bun.''  The highlight for me is the portobello mushroom bun, which included walnuts and a miso glaze. The combination of walnut and white miso has already been made famous by the extraordinary walnut and miso udon dish at Koya, but this is also a brilliant example of how the two can be brought together. All this is finished off with the aforementioned soft, wholemeal buns. The steamed bun is the closest thing you'll get to eating a cloud. The pork belly with hoisin was also really good (maybe a little more authentically south east asian), but I felt the mushroom bun was more special. Healthy, tasty and cheap, Yum Bun is always a winner for us - Shahz

Pork Belly with hoisin sauce, and portbello mushroom wrapped in little clouds

Tava wava @Tavawava

Tava Wava naan wrap with chicken as well as paneer and beetroot
So continuing on the Indian wraps theme  (see ''Bhangra Burger'' above). Tava Wava's spin on this one are healthy curries within naan wraps. We tried two offerings - the chicken curry was good, not too spicy with a hint of cardamom and cinnamon. The beetroot paneer was the real winner for me though...the creamy cheese combined with the sweet tanginess of the beetroot in a way that I'd never encountered before. I would definitely go back to try that one again! - Shahz

Tongue 'n' cheek @tonguencheeks
To be found: Kings X on Wednesdays, Brockley Market saturday

Cristiano serves up another
Kerb, now has more choice than ever, on any given day there are always at least a couple of great choices.Tongue'n'cheek have been set up at KERB a while but I've never been much of a fan of tongue, so didn't check it out. This was until I read someone's write up on their burger, the heartbreaker. You can chose from the original, the cheesy and the belly connection (with gorgonzola, and pork belly). I've been for their belly connection, and special of the piccante with nduja. The patty is from up to 40 day old dry aged beef mixed with ox heart. If you eat this come well protected, it is MESSY to eat, the juices will run everywhere, and nothing will stop them, not good going back to work with heart juice down your trousers. Perhaps just wear a bib, it's only Kings X, who cares. While unconventional its brilliant, just about the right size, with the richness of the patty is fantastic and if the fillings were any bigger you would need a taxi to take you away. It take a while to be served even if there is not much of a queue, but this is due to their meticulous preparation, including steaming the cheese under a metal cloche, so be patient good things are coming. The pork cheek roll is great as well cooked in a sweet port reduction. One taste and you'll be hooked. The philly cheese roll isn't as good as the others, the steak a bit tough being chuck eye, and a nightmare to eat without destroying the surrounding area with juices and peppers running everywhere.
Tongue'n'cheek are amoungst our favourite street food vendors, and keep coming back time and time again

The Belly Connection

- Owen

Bleecker St Burger @Bleeckerburger
To be found: Kings X Wed & Fri, 

Parked up on the KERB every Thursday, unenviably opposite Ribman, Bleecker St Burger bring their NYC inspired burgers to the streets of London. Options are blue burger, or single/double cheese burger, with either fries or mixed (normal & sweet potato). The burger is good, seasoning bang on, and and with classic american cheese and the big mac style sauce really stands out. The sweet potato fries are great, portion size is massive, could never finish this by myself with a burger, at £3 for the angry fries (added buffalo and blue cheese sauce) probably best to share these. - Owen

Big Dirty Burger @BigDirtyBurger
To be found: Currently on hiatus, watch this space

Like most antipodeans, these guys aren't subtle, with their burgers including the 'Gangbang' and 'Beet'n'Meet'. If you can get over yourself though and get involved in a gangbang, you'll be grateful....After that grab a great burger from BDB, they are meticulous in their preparation. Their enthusiasm for their food shines through to what you get and was great to chat with them at length about the cuts that go into their patty. A mixture of chuck, short rib and (unusually) oxtail, all enclosed in a Miller's bakery brioche bun. You. I managed to catch them at Camden Town Brewery one saturday afternoon. The burgers certainly wash down well with a good larger.

I had the gangbang, with avocado, blue cheese, bacon and tomato jam. It seems like this could be quite overwhelming, but was fantastic. The jam goes well with the cheese and the patty is awesome and really juicy, cooked medium rare as you can see and the oxtail certainly adds richness. My favourite street food burger! Was so good me and a friend split another between us. However, The 'big cheese' with chedder, jam, and pickle for me was a bit too sweet for me, with not much to balance out the tomato jam and the sweet brioche bun. 
NB. Camden Town Brewery is open on weekends, always with a couple of street food traders to keep you nourished as well as pissed. - Owen

Big cheese from Big Dirty Burger
Deeney's @deeneys
To be found:
Greenwich market weekdays, Broadway market (schoolyard) sat, Chatsworth Rd Sun

Now that it's getting towards the colder months of the year, you want something wholesome and warms your wee cockles, and where better than food from where it's always cold and windswept, Scotland. Bringing haggis toasties to London are Deeneys. Haggis is hard to get in London, and being half scots, I miss it. Their toastie with onions, rocket and mustard is nae bad at all. With toasties at £4 and soups at £3, they are on to a winner. Managed to find them at Camden Town Brewery, but they are also at greenwich market during the week, and Broadway market on Saturday. If you are one of those folk who's idea of haggis (what's wrong with heart, liver and lung) turns them off, give it a try, it'll put hairs on your chest - Owen

Looks a mess but tastes gorgeous

Pitt Cue Co Trailer @PittCueTrailer
Southbank under Hunderford Bridge (in summer)

 Shaz ponders the eternal question - the Beef brisket or the pulled pork

Their success was so great last year that they've opened their own restaurant. Even Daniel Clifford was trying to recommend this to me the other week (I had already been the day previous), surely no bigger recommendation than from a Michelin star chef! It's reputation is duly deserved.  After a time away from the street they've gone back to their roots with the trailer on southbank under the Hungerford Bridge, perfect on a sunny to day to sit down on the newly re-landscaped Jubilee gardens basking in the sun (or as of recent great british rain). I've only been once (so far) and had the pulled pork bun served with gherkins and slaw. While probably a bit more expensive than other street food vendors at £6.50 but damn its worth it. The pork is soo tender and smoky with great depth of flavour. What's more there are specials including the Trailer Trash Burger (mac'n'cheese with pulled pork) and the Big Ode ( brisket, pulled pork, smoked sausage), no doubt I'll be back again armed with an appetite an a half. - Owen

 Cornish Grill @Cornishgrill
To be found: Stopped for the time being, but be sure to go down Maltby Street anyway
Maltby St Market, not too far from London Bridge, is a gem of a market, light years away from the nightmare that is borough market. Amongst the many traders of specialist produce, from wines to cheeses, is the cornish grill. In addition selling their Cornish meats, beef supplied from the superlative Philip Warren butchers, over the summer had a variety of chefs working the BBQ. With steaks and seafood, including hand dived scallops,  often on the menu, it was always a treat on a saturday lunchtime. Now that it's getting colder, gone are the BBQ days but fear not you'll  often see Will Yates there with his incredible prize winning chilli

Monkfish with white chocolate mayo and edible flower salad
..and last but not least, something a bit different

Strippedback @_strippedback
Friday at Street Feast, Merchant yard (opposite Haggerston station)

Ex-Roganic head chef, Ben Spalding, has set up something to shake up the street food scene. Based in Street Feast at Hackney, and previously Daltson, and also the school carpark of London Fields Primary School, just off Broadway Market on saturdays. With Strippedback, Ben and his team, armed with all but a small hob for reheating, put together 4 and 6 course meals, literally bringing fine dining to the street. Most of their prep seems to be done at home, with most of the ingredients held in various tupperware boxes. It's all prepared infront of you with explanation's of what has gone into each dish, a nice touch, much what you would get at a chef's table paying much higher for the privilege. With this kind of set up though not everything packs a lasting impression. Much like a taster menu, portion sizes are small. I could have ate loads of the rabbit stew, delish!
For a while we've been discussing this set up, and how (and what) other chefs would do in similar circumstances. What's clear though is that Ben has a talent for innovative creation, and was a pleasure to get a chance to eat his offerings, with a full kitchen, at John Salt while he was there (check out our review)
Here's just a few of the dishes we've sampled while it was open (coming back next May apparently)

Understated to say the least

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