Review: Galbi Bros, Dead Dolls House Pop-up

Galbi Bros menu

Please study the menu above. Study it well. Feast your eyes upon it and notice words such as ‘spicy’ and ‘beef, and – for the really observant – “thinly sliced gochuchang smoked pork.”

Then, also notice the word ‘Korea’ and understand: HOW COULD I NOT ATTEND THIS EVENT?!!!

Not only does the menu involve ridiculous quantities of meat, and lashings of spice, but it involves Korean cuisine – three courses of it for only £20. And I’m a sucker for Korean cuisine – I actually don’t remember much from my one-week trip to Korea except stuffing as much food as I could into my mouth from bulgogi (grilled marinated beef) to dakgalbi (spicy stir fried chicken with noodles, sweet potatoes and loadsa good stuff).

Dakgalbi

Dakgalbi

Actually, I lie. I also remember hiking up Hallasan and a trip to Love Land, but that’s probably a story best told another time.

Getting it on at Love Land

Getting it on at Love Land

We arrive at the Dead Dolls House to find a hipster dressed as a soldier(?) acting as security(?) on the door, before being led into a room, with few furnishings as most of the ‘furnishings’ have been painted onto the walls in fiddly, black lines. Cue: discussion about how ‘poor’ and ‘poorly done’ becomes hip. Cue: stomach interrupts discussion and directs attention towards menu.

Lotus crisps and rice skewers

Lotus crisps and rice skewers

Lotus crisps and rice skewers

Lotus crisps and rice skewers

Having sampled the Galbi Bros’ ramen burgers and rice burgers at Urban Food Fest, I knew we were in for a treat. Starting off, we crunched our way through lotus chips, which – to be honest – are more crispy than tasty but great fun nonetheless. Then we sampled the dukkochi – the chewy rice cakes. These were definitely very chewy – perhaps a little too much so – but the spicy sauce from Moses’ hometown Yeokkok was like a drug. I wanted to lick my plate until I wore away the ceramic. Moses – please take me to your hometown. My life will not be complete otherwise.

These photos do not do this beast justice!

These photos do not do this beast justice!

Do I spy some gochujang smoked pork?

Do I spy some gochujang smoked pork?

Next up, the main course – the ‘Invincible Admiral Yi’: ‘beef marinated in homemade galbi sauce topped with thinly slice gochuchang sliced pork, cheese, kimchi, fresh vegetables’… with some ‘secret Brother sauce’. First of all, I should say that the Admiral is indeed invincible – he was demolished well and truly. However, in the flavour stakes, he truly is unbeatable. My dining partner turned to me, brow slightly furrowed in concentration, and announced: ‘This is the best burger that I have ever eaten!’ High praise indeed.

To begin, the homemade galbi sauce, secret Brother sauce or whatever sauce was on there was sweet and delicious with just the right amount of tang to give the burger that umami moreishness (or I could just be blagging it here, but you get the gist – it was awesome). ‘Gochujang’ is the ubiquitous fermented red chilli past in Korea, and it is simply delicious and not overwhelming in its spice levels. Basically, it’s a very good thing to coat smoked pork in. Surprisingly, the kimchi (fermented pickled vegetables, usually involving cabbage) was not nearly as sour or strong as the  kind I’ve previously sampled, but just provided a gentle flavour that occasionally came through the decadence of the rest. The only thing that didn’t quite work for me – whereas it was a high point for my dining partner – was the firmness of the beef patty. It had quite a dense consistency, whereas I prefer the softer kind. However, within the layers and layers of the burger, the consistency was so obscured and mixed with other items that it did not detract from my enjoyment.

Probably the most fattening fries ever. YUM.

Probably the most fattening fries ever. YUM.

The fries were topped with all kinds of amazing things – namely, more smoked pork and cheese – but sadly were a little cold by the time they reached us.

Dessert was: “A trio of handmade ice creams: wasabi with a drizzle of olive oil, almond with a splash of toasted sesame oil and roasted green tea with pine nuts”- and it seemed to divide people.  Many people were very taken with the wasabi, much to their surprise, but I loved the almond, which was far less popular.

Ice-cream

Ice-cream

Fortunately, this didn’t cause any riffs because we were all united: the Invincible Admirable was in our hearts. And he remains there to this day.

You can find the Galbi Bros here or follow them on Twitter here.

CELEBRATE! KERB at the Gherkin is back!

Mother Flipper yeah!

Mother Flipper yeah!

Once upon the time, Kerb market started introducing really great street food to London. Londoners, all too accustomed to cardboard pre-packaged sandwiches, were very excited by this sudden flavour explosion across the capital. Kerb became really popular and started sending traders to the Gherkin, allowing all the City workers to be well fed too.

Dosa Deli

The Grilling Greek

But one day, something terrible happened. The City of London decided that it was far too pretentious and sterile to allow a lively, delicious and buzzing street food scene to thrive. It banned Kerb from cluttering up its tightly controlled urban environment.

However, people of the City were very sad. They were hungry. And they were angry. Even worse, they were hangry. Their Thursday al fresco lunches were replaced with bland ‘al descos’. Perpetual gloom settled over the City and it rained every day (oh wait, that might just be England).

Talks between Kerb and the City of London continued, and the City had to grudgingly admit that a lot of people missed street food. So several negotiations and dinosaurs later, and after the slaying of a few metaphorical dragons, Kerb triumphed in the Battle of the Bland, and glorious grub once again glimmered at the Gherkin.

The Londoners rejoiced and not even the perpetual rain could dampen their enthusiasm or their appetites.

Dinosaur sheltersDinosaur shelters

The End.

In other news, I tried a Bacon Candy Mother Flipper burger (bacon fried in maple syrup, American cheese) and it was awesome.

Burger porn

Burger porn

 

 

Review: Urban Food Festival, Shoreditch

Tasty pastry from Porteña

Tasty pastry from Porteña

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.)

The crowd

The crowd

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!

Galbi Brothers

The Galbi Brothers

The Galbi Brothers

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.

Ramen burger

Ramen burger

Rice Burger

Rice Burger

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:

Streetzza 

Hubertus cooking some pizza

Hubertus cooking some pizza

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.

Into the oven

Into the oven

In the oven

In the oven

TADAH! Chorizo and jalapeno pizza. Om nom nom.

TADAH! Chorizo and jalapeno pizza. Om nom nom.

Luardos

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.

Batch Bakery

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.

Salted caramel brownies - let me drink you!!!!!

Salted caramel brownies – let me drink you!!!!!

The Crumbery

The Crumbery team!

The Crumbery team, Vincent and Callie, with some crumbnuts (croughnuts) in the foreground

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.

So pretty

So pretty

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.

They look like burgers!!

They look like burgers!!

Burger Bear

Tom himself

Tom himself

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!

Spinach and ricotta

Spinach and ricotta

Beef (traditional)

Beef (traditional)

Review: Wahaca

Mexican market dining

Mexican market dining

Om nom

Om nom

SCROLL DOWN … for lots of pretty pics at the bottom!

I’ve been hearing good things about Wahaca for ages. Self-advertised as Mexican street food, it’s bound to be a winning formula. Plus they’re keen to emphasise the ethical side of the business, by buying UK-only meat from ‘trusted’ farms, although their chicken is not free-range. Their branch at Southbank is particularly interesting – it’s built from 8 recycled shipping containers and also acts as a trial location for new dishes (I don’t know if they’re still serving up grasshoppers, but from the sounds of things, we can expect some exciting stuff).

Despite my slow introduction to Wahaca, I’ve now been to both the Covent Garden and Charlotte Street branches. I enjoyed my meals both times. The décor is fresh, colourful and modern, the staff extremely helpful and food is delivered promptly and beautifully presented.

Then there’s the food. You can’t really go wrong when ordering at Wahaca, but equally you won’t have a taste-induced orgasm. The food is simple, tasty and uncomplicated, but never rises above pleasant to be really, truly moreish. As a result, it’s been a tricky review to write – for those of you who’ve been, do you agree?

There are two options for ordering at Wahaca: you can either order lots of little dishes and share (recommended) or take a large plate for yourself.

It seems to be a classic to start off with their Guacamole with Tortilla Chips (£3.85). These are perfect for preventing any table-cloth-gnawing whilst waiting for the rest of the dishes, although they never take long to arrive. The chips are fun to munch but I find the guacamole a little bland for my tastes.

Tortilla chips

Tortilla chips

Guacamole

Guacamole

One of the most popular little plates is the Pork Pibil Tacos (£3.95) – slow cooked in a Yucatecan marinade with ‘fiery’ pickled onions (it’s a lie – they’re really not that spicy). This is the option for all meat-lovers out there. And whilst I’ve ordered this twice now and would order it again, it is too salty and a little one-dimensional in its taste.

Pork Pibil tacos

Pork Pibil tacos

Pork pibil porno close-up

Pork pibil porno close-up

Black Beans & Cheese Quesadillas (£3.60) make a good veggie option but again, there’s nothing too complicated happening taste-wise.

Black bean and cheese quesadillas

Black bean and cheese quesadillas

For dessert, the Chocolate Tres Leches Cake (£4.95) with peanut butter ice-cream sounds divine but is actually pretty light on chocolate. Instead, I recommend the Salted Caramel Ice-Cream (£4.25) with shavings of shavings of Valrhona chocolate – but only if you’re prepared to lick the bowl clean in appreciation.

Chocolate tres leches

Chocolate tres leches

Salted caramel ice-cream with Vahlrona chocolate - OMG

Salted caramel ice-cream with Vahlrona chocolate – OMG

A ridiculously good value deal is the Wahaca Selection (£19.95) for two people to share. It is so generous that many may be defeated and the variety is great: 3 pork pibil tacos,1 large broad bean quesadilla, 3 chicken tinga tacos, 2 black bean tostadas, 2 new potato taquitos, and Wahaca slaw.

Check out some of the dishes below:

Feast

Feast

Feast

Feast

One final point: if you want to drink wine at Wahaca, you have to drink it out a thick glass because wine glasses don’t exist in Mexico!?!

Have you dined at Wahaca? Opinions? Is there some divine dish I’ve yet to try? Hit me with your thoughts.

Wahaca 3/5 – Great atmosphere and service. It’s a crowd-pleaser – not spectacular, but perfect for eating out in groups if you haven’t booked anywhere and need some reliable, tasty food. 

Website: http://www.wahaca.co.uk/
Where: Bluewater, Canary Wharf, Covent Garden, Charlotte Street, Islington, Soho, Southbank, Stratford, Waterloo, White City
When: Various, see website.

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Covent Garden

Covent Garden

Covent Garden

Covent Garden

Covent Garden

Covent Garden

Review: Yalla Yalla, Soho

Peeking at the menus

Peeking at the menus

Street food – it’s all the rage. Which is an invitation for all kinds of foreign dishes to hit London as, let’s face it, Britain doesn’t have a street food culture. One might invoke our national obsession with the weather as an explanation for this. One might also invoke the weather as the reason to why a lot of this foreign “street food” is being sold in cafés rather than on the streets.

Yalla Yalla (1 Green’s Court, Soho) is a tiny little café that serves up Beirut “street” food where squeezing around the wooden tables is an achievement in itself. One wall is lined with cushion-filled bench and small stools provide seating for the people opposite. Be prepared to be cosy.

They serve a whole range of tasty Lebanese dishes, including casseroles, grills and meat skewers, along with mezze and wraps. We sampled the following:

Halloum Meshoue

Halloum Meshoue

Halloum Meshoue – grilled halloumi cheese with tomatoes, black olives, fresh mint and olive oil. The mint provided a refreshing contrast to the saltiness of the halloumi. And it’s hard to go wrong  with halloumi. Mmm.

Makale Samak

Makale Samak

Makale Samak – deep fried calamari, white bait and tiger prawns with spring onions, crispy aubergine and chilli minted greek yoghurt. The batter was fairly light, crisp and well-seasoned. Overall, it was pleasant but not outstanding.

AND NOW….the WRAPS! (Can you tell that I enjoyed them?)

Lamb Shawarma

Lamb Shawarma

I took the Lamb Shawarma (£4.50) – slices of marinated lamb, sumac onion, pickled turnips, tomato and tahini sauce. It was so succulent and flavourful. And at a bargain £4.50, I thought life couldn’t get any better.

Then I attacked my sister’s Chicken Shawarma (£4.50) and realised that… yes, life could get better. The wrap was full of a fantastic garlic sauce that basically meant I had to eat half her wrap. I’ve been wistfully thinking about this chicken shawarma ever since. Highly recommended.

Yalla Yalla 4/5 – Cute and cosy café with reasonably-priced and very tasty food. It’s a winner. 

Website: http://www.yalla-yalla.co.uk/
Where:
12 Winsley Street, W1W 8HQ; 1 Green’s Court, W1F 0HA; Pop-up branch, 186 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6HU
When: Various, see website here.

Review: Yum Bun at Old Street

Yum Bun

Yum Bun

I’m a little slow off the mark, but I finally got round to visiting the amazing street food vendors, Yum Bun, in their new home – a take-out shop off Old Street roundabout.

Yum Bun are regulars at street food markets like Kerb, so you might already be familiar with their unbelievably delicious ‘pillow-soft’ steamed buns filled with Chinese and Japanese-inspired flavours. The team are taking break from the market scene in order to vastly improve lunch prospects in the Old Street area by setting up a take-out shop. As well as selling buns individually (£3.50 each or 2 for £6), they also offer a £7.50 bento box containing two buns, two veggie gyoza dumplings and salad, served with a cup of miso soup.

Bento box

Apologies for the sriracha splatters! 😛

I got the classic belly pork with hoi sin sauce, cucumber and spring onions – and its tender sweetness was pure bliss.

Choices choices

Choices choices

Yum Bun have branched out and now offer mushroom, chicken, beef and salmon. I tried the braised ox cheek with coriander and peanuts, which was also tasty, but didn’t quite reach the ecstasy levels of the pork classic.

Braised ox cheek bun

Braised ox cheek bun

The veggie gyoza were great and the salad was fresh and crisp. One small point – the miso soup definitely needed to be stronger.

Miso soup

I cannot wait to stop by again. The new flavours are a challenge – gotta try ‘em all! Anyone sampled the others? Would love to hear your opinions.

Anyway, get yourself to Yum Bun ASAP. Apparently  you can take your bento box next door into the long-term pop-up Rotary Bar and Diner (which I reviewed here)…. or you can end up eating it in a graveyard like I did.

Website: http://www.yumbun.co.uk/ (I think it’s a super-cute website – seriously have a look)
Where: 31 Featherstone Street, EC1Y 2BJ
When: Lunch Monday to Friday 11.30am – 2.30pm; Thursday to Saturday, 5pm – 10pm

Review: Street Feast London Opening Night – April 12th

They're almost ready...

They’re almost ready…

Imagine 14 street food traders. Crammed into one yard. Serving up everything from hot dogs to jerk chicken, from scallops to green tea choc ices, from buttermilk fried chicken to tofu and mushroom gyoza. Every Friday night? Does this sound like a foodie heaven? Well, yes. Yes, it does.

When I arrived at Street Feast London at 8.30pm last Friday night, I felt pretty far removed from heaven. It was pouring with rain. The covered areas were so packed with people that rows of umbrellas were lining the fringes. Through the grim darkness and crowds, it was hard to make out what the traders were actually offering. Slowly but surely, we realised, with increasing horror, that many traders had sold out! Spit & Roast was packing up, people were walking away empty handed from Buen Provecho and the Ribman was nowhere to be seen!

PANIC. I’d invited three sets of people who didn’t really know each other. They were all hungry, standing in the rain. Many of them required vegetarian options in the absence of halal meat. I felt severe guilt at leading everyone into what looked like would be a dismal and damp disappointment.

PANIC. Divide forces! Quick! Some of my friends hit Well Kneaded for some ‘firebreads’, which are essentially like a pizza without the tomato sauce. I joined the long queue for Bleecker St Burger. The people in front of us looked round and commented, “The queue doesn’t move forward but it grows longer. So our relative position improves.”

Always look on the bright side of life.

My phone rang. More friends would be joining me soon. I’ll get you burgers, I told them, or you might not get anything at all.

Eventually, I made it to the front of the queue and made my order to be told it would cost £45. I had £35 and I went off friend-hunting to scrounge a tenner. Then I did the maths and realised I’d been overcharged £13.10. Which he was highly embarrassed about. I was just relieved that I didn’t need to pay any more!

We were also very forgiving once we tucked into our Cheeseburgers (£5). I had heard good things about Bleecker St Burger but I didn’t realise it’d be this good. The bun was light but held together well. And the patty was one of the more succulent offerings I’ve tried. YUM.

FINALLY!

FINALLY!

YUM

YUM

Forgiveness turned to all-out worship once we tried the sweet potato fries (£3). Oh my goodness. We turned to each other with a look of bliss on our faces. These might be the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever eaten. They looked a little soggy but were surprisingly firm. And they were simply exploding with sweet potato flavour.

Sweet Potato Fries imported directly from Sweet Potato Heaven

Sweet Potato Fries imported directly from Sweet Potato Heaven

Sadly, our Beetroot and Goats Cheese Firebread with Watercress and Pea Shoots (£5.50) from Well Kneaded was no good, because they’d run out of goats cheese and had used ordinary cheese instead. Which turned into a minor flavour car crash – edible but not particularly pleasant. With goats cheese, however, I imagine it’d be fantastic.

My friends also tucked into some gyoza from Rainbo (8 = £6). Their Chicken and Coriander is really unusual, and they do a surprisingly meaty Tofu and Shiitake Mushroom version for veggies.

Gyoza

Gyoza

To finish up, we ambushed Sorbitum and sampled an array of dazzling flavours (2 scoops = £3.50). I was fond of the Chocolate and Hazelnut flavour – it was like praline in ice-cream form – and I also enjoyed some salted caramel. Really intriguing however was the Toffee Apple and Brown Butter and ginger fanatics should not miss the Fresh Ginger and Pink Rhubarb Ripple.

Sorbitum ice-cream truck

Sorbitum ice-cream truck

Hazelnut-chocolate and salted caramel ice-cream

Hazelnut-chocolate and salted caramel ice-cream

So our mood was drastically improved by full stomachs. And the rain having the decency to pause whilst we were eating.

Street Feast has promised on Twitter that traders will bring twice the amount of food next Friday. Phew! Cos I’ve got a lot of eating to do. And if you like food, I advise you make plans to head there too.

Street Feast

Where: Merchant Yard, 317-319 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4DL
When: Fridays, 5pm – midnight
Website: http://www.streetfeastlondon.com/