If you hadn’t noticed, there is an epidemic of street food sweeping through London. We all know about Camden’s food stalls which are open late into the night with staff competing to get the attention and sale of every passer-by. But I’m talking about food festivals and the gourmet food trucks which are popping up regularly now.
The evolution of food trucks and street food has progressed massively. No longer do we expect the average frankfurter wedged in a Warburton’s bun topped with over fried onions. We expect delicious, gourmet food for under a tenner, maybe even a fiver and we’ll take nothing less. Whilst street food had been delivering quick lunches since the early 1900s, the boom we are seeing started around 10 years ago. If we’re specific, Los Angeles based Korean style street food, Kogi, sparked it all. The reason behind this surge is due to weakness in the economy and unemployment being on the rise. Many people who own food trucks are those who lost their jobs and started up on their own. Amongst them are people in their mid-twenties wanting to get into the food industry and doing so with a flair of creativity. And who thought the recession could spark something so wonderful.
We’ve seen successful food trucks progress to international restaurants as well. Shake Shack started as a food truck on Madison Square Park in New York and earlier this year raised £105m from their IPO. Street food and food trucks in London are now so popular there are places where you can try the best of the best every weekend throughout summer. Street Feast is definitely one you need to try out.
Last Saturday, a bunch of friends and I visited Street Feast’s Dalston Yard location for a birthday. I was beyond excited all week for the food on offer, just check out their website and your mouth will be watering. The stalls available are interchangeable as they shuffle them around all locations ‘Model Market’ (Lewisham), ‘Dalston Yard’ and ‘Dinerama’ (Shoreditch Yard – opening 12th June). But you can expect the likes of Bleecker St, B.O.B.s Lobster, Yum Bun, Le Bun, Slider Bar, Grill My Cheese, Rola Wola and more. They also have a craft beer stall, gin bar and Caribbean style cocktails at Rum Shack. It’s everything you could dream of in one place.
Now, my brother’s girlfriend had shown me a picture of one of the meals she had last time she went – 3 sliders including deep fried chicken sandwiched between two waffles. Instantly that was top of my list of things to try. Definitely two ingredients I wouldn’t put on one plate – let alone in the same bite. Next up, an asian style soft, steamed bun in the place of standard bread any day. So Le Bun and Yum Bun it was.
Naturally I went for the Le Bun’s 3 sliders for £10, being the greedy bitch I am. To my pleasure, the chicken and waffle dish was still available and better than I imagined; so I ordered two, and how can you blame me when it’s titled ‘Truffle & Waffles’ and compiled of confit southern fried chicken, house waffles, truffle butter and Rosemary maple syrup. My third option was the ‘Le Duck Frites Bun’ which packed in pulled confit duck, straw frites, béarnaise spread, duck sauce and champagne slaw into a brioche bun. The flavours in the former were fantastic and totally complementary of the other. Although at times the chicken did feel quite dry, maybe due to the ratio of meat compared to the waffle bun, which obviously gets thinner and thinner as you’re taking each bite and squashing the slider. But I’d still go back for more. I have much less to say about the Duck Confit Slider, I felt there was too much béarnaise sauce one such a small burger which I felt also got cold far too quickly. Both were incredibly messy – make sure you grab a napkin.
Yum Bun was a total winner. Since a friend of mine had shown me a picture of this burger in a steamed bun he ate in Berlin, I’ve been dying to try one! Yum Bun had three savoury menu choices and two desserts – one bun for £4 and two for £7. The three savoury choices included the ‘Pork Bun’ (slow-roasted pork belly, cucumbers, spring onions and hoisin sauce), ‘Mushroom Bun’ (Portobello mushroom, toasted walnuts and a miso glaze) and a ‘Shrimp Bun’ (crispy chilli prawns, pickles, coriander and gochujang mayo). The dessert options were either coffee ice cream, toasted coconut ice cream inside a crispy golden bun. I chose the Pork Bun and Toasted Coconut Ice Cream desert – don’t judge me. I can eat. Both were DIVINE. The steamed bun is something I could eat on its own, all day every day and teamed with the pork and hoi sin sauce it was twice as satisfying as the hoi sin duck pancakes I get along with my Chinese take out – which is twice as expensive. The dessert bun was insane, the toasted coconut ice cream was drizzled with a caramel sauce and sprinkled with peanuts – combining all the textures of sticky, crunchy and smooth in one go. If there is anything you try this year, please try Yum Bun. For £7 there is no excuses.
The drinks from Rum Shack are worth a go if you’re not into craft beer – or equally if you are. They’re strong and extremely tasty. Although, I would look out for the rip off that is the £15 Pina Colada Pitcher which comes in an appealing hollowed out pineapple– you are paying for the pineapple people!
Altogether, I think I spent around £30 between 7pm and 9pm, so if you’re looking to spend a longer evening there, it is going to cost you. When you’ve eaten all you can and move on to drinks that’s when it adds up. Regardless of how much you want to spend, I suggest you make your way down to Street Feast, if not for the food then for the beer and if not for the beer, for the atmosphere. It has a fantastic, lively vibe– incredibly cool decor, sporting that run down chic that east London is loving right now which also included numerous bonfires spread about the venue to keep you toasty in this British weather. You can probably expect to be eating and drinking on your feet though – despite there being seating there is not enough for everyone so don’t be disappointed. It’s free to get in before 7pm, afterwards it’s £3 and it’s open from 5pm to midnight every Friday and Saturday until 26th September.
And for all of those attending Field Day Festival this weekend, Street Feast is providing the food – you can find me at the Blecker Street truck and expect to see a review sometime next week!