Yes, ladies and gentleman, London has finally got its act together so good quality street food is no longer found at the fringes of one’s dreams but has become an easily accessible actuality. Following this trend is the Urban Food Festival just off Shoreditch High Street. (You’ll have to be quick to catch it though – the last one of these gastronomic gauntlets is TONIGHT- Saturday October 12th.)
In the crowded space that is Euro Car Parks, street food trucks and stalls present a vast array of global cuisines from Korean to Mexican, from Argentinian to Indian, with a bar, some music and dash of street art thrown in for good measure. What’s brilliant about these kind of events is that they shift the rather heavy emphasis on alcohol in British culture to a more well-rounded evening where alcohol is somewhat secondary to the shift on food. Social points are earned by how many different dishes you manage to cram in, or whether you’re brave enough to sample the ‘gator balls’ from Geaux Cajun (not testicles as we’ve been assured). All in all, Urban Food Fest makes for a fun, foodie evening.
As for the food, one must expect THE trendiest dishes in town, given that the market is in Shoreditch. It was with little surprise, then, that we encountered croughnuts (croissant-doughnut hybrids) and ramen burgers that have recently spread across the pond from New York.
Here’s just a few of the amazing traders my (very hungry) dining partner and I got to try!
Ramen, the popular Japanese noodle dish, is very trendy in the West. Burgers are also a big food fad of the moment. So what should we do? COMBINE THEM.
The Galbi Brothers – who met whilst producing Gangnam Style parody, London Style – serve up ramen burgers (£6) with Korean BBQ maintated beef and, of course, kimchi. However, they’ve gone one step further and created a rice burger. Both are worth trying, as they offer very different textures and allow different flavours of the ingredients to come through. Personally, I felt the rice burger went best with the beef, but I think the ramen burger would go really well with a pork burger as food writer MiMi cooked up here.
Check out their super-funny video here:
Everyone likes pizza, but Streetzza takes it to a whole new level of total awesomeness. How about pizza fresh from a wood fire oven in the back of a converted horse box… covered in street art? Yes, that’s right! The Streetzza van is actually a green and pink monster truck featuring art from SweetToof and Ronzo. A feat of engineering, it took owner Hubertus a couple of months to build. Temperatures reach 500°C inside but the outside remains completely cool.
Hubertus has been making pizza for 10 years, inspired by his Corsican family. This means very thin, crispy pizza crust and a lot of deliciousness. After he finishes making pizza, he often throws a joint of pork into the oven and slow cooks it for an extra – and very tender – topping. There are plans for some amazing Christmas dinners at the end of this year, so keep your eyes peeled.
Inspired by helping Petra, founder of street market Kerb, with a chocolate van, Simon Luard saved up £10K to open his very own Mexican street van. Things didn’t quite go as expected on his first day of trading – he’d installed a chargrill that led to smoke so thick that people tried to call the fire brigade! Fortunately, he didn’t ruin the van or his lungs as, six years on, Luardos is a bit of a Mexican street food legend on the London scene. Expect dangerously lush burritos. Muy rico indeed.
I’m having a love affair with their brownies. The salted caramel brownies are so gooey and rich that I practically drank them out of the paper bag and I am shuddering with pleasure just from the memory. For something really unusual, try their Lemon Meringue Blondies.
The sweet treats from The Crumbery will also change your life. Vincent Josse is a French trained pastry chef and thrives on the creativity that The Crumbery provides. There macaroons are otherworldly. How exciting can macaroons be, you might ask. The answer is very, very exciting. How about Lychee, Raspberry and Rose? Or Peanut Butter and Jelly? Or Cream Cheese and Rosewater? I hear a Wasabi and Grapefruit is in the pipeline too! The flavours are beautifully executed as is the presentation; they are truly works of art.
The Crumbery began with making artisan chocolates before expanding. Currently based in Kent, they’re hoping to open a store in London very soon. They’re super-hip too as they have their version of cronuts – Crumbnuts. The pastry/dough is, as would be expected, amazingly light.
Tom likes disco and burgers, so you’re guaranteed two things when you visit Burger Bear Tom: music and some really good burgers. What’s more, he has concocted a sweet, morerish bacon jam that is really worth ordering and that you can also take home for £5 a jar. Not only are the burgers juicy and the condiments well-balanced, but ordering can be a lot of fun. Ask for Grizzly Bear. Or an Angry Bear. Or ask for a Greedy Bear (double patty) and make it Angry with the Ribman’s famous Holy Fuck sauce.
Urban Food Festival – TONIGHT
175 Shoreditch High St, E1 6HU
5pm – midnight
And a final shout out to Porteña for some great empanadas!