A Weekend’s Visit to Eat Street
As many of you will already know, London’s street food mecca Eat Street operates only from Wednesday to Friday lunchtimes, so when I found they were going to be on their Kings Boulevard patch on a Saturday for the first time I leapt at the opportunity to visit some of the big names for the first time: Big Apple Hot Dogs, The Rib Man and Kimchi Cult. They and their fellow street food traders were blessed with amazing sunshine – the warmest day of the year in my estimation, and although the weekend opening was a special event in celebration of the Guardian newspaper’s open weekend, London’s foodie clan seemed to outnumber the professional and private journalists by a large margin. Excited food lovers were flocking to high quality food, made by some of the nicest people you could hope to meet in an area of town which is starting to buzz.
I started by visiting Mark Gevaux, aka The Rib Man, and armed with his trusty (self made) Holy Fuck sauce (a blend of scotch bonnet and naga chillies, alongside the rub he adds to the rib meat) he provided me with an experience to remember. His £5 Rib Meat Roll could only really be described as hardcore food porn – a gigantic roll stuffed very full of rich and tender rib meat, amplified to the nth degree by the sauce.
The sauce I might add is not for the faint hearted – when I met up with friends later in the day I was accused of looking so wired it was like I’d just had a line of cocaine – but I can safely say it changed my life; I’ve never tasted anything so intense or so thorough enjoyable before! Sat around my partner and me were many other Londoners, similarly excited either about their first taste of this divine invention, or just enjoying a regular bite with the master! Gordon had no choice but to share in my pleasure and pain, as I delighted (as did he) in the quite outstanding meat, but also when my eyes were brought to the point of watering by the intensity of the sauce. I thought Mark wasn’t messing around so why should I? I don’t think I was alone either, because I was by no means alone in taking a bottle of Holy Fuck sauce away with me…
Danny and Sarah were in charge of Kimchi Cult, and although their food wasn’t anywhere near as intense, it was no less enjoyable for it. I’d waited a similar time to visit these guys, as their reputation for kimchi burgers had become similarly legendary. But today their Korean-style fast food was a Korean/Mexican fusion: a delicious Bulgogi Steak torta, blending jalapeños, cheese, guacamole, hot sauce and kimchi in a toasted bolillo roll filled with flash-grilled steak. They too had a pulled pork offering, but I decided to go for as diverse an experience I could and I was suitably rewarded. Unlike some recent street food I’d had, I could taste and appreciate every single ingredient, and they all worked in concert to deliver an adventure for the senses!
It was a surprisingly non-filling introduction into a whole different cuisine, and amazingly none of the flavours overpowered the other. I’d thought the kimchi, cheese, guacamole and beef might have made for an uncomfortable mix, but far from it, and I was left wanting more, itching to try one of their kimchi burgers next time. In case you’re wondering I did eat this immediately after the rib meat roll, and I still don’t know why I wasn’t bursting at this point. It was so hot out Gordon & I were drinking a lot of liquid, but I seem to grow new stomachs when it comes to street food these days.
Abiye’s hot dogs are like nothing else you can find in London. When I last visited his Old Street patch, I’d thoroughly enjoyed his trademark Big Frank – 100% pork, oak smoked, and seasoned with paprika, nutmeg and black pepper, enjoying the subtle seasoning of the nicely ground meat. This time though I figured I’d take a chance on the one-off Big Pol, which was described as pretty much the same, but bigger and replete with more chunks of pork, instead of the ground variety. I was also assured the sausage’s name was a play on the nationality (pole) rather than anything it else those of you with naughtier minds may think it resembles!
Needless to say it lived up to expectations (I admit I put a small amount of Holy Fuck sauce on it on his recommendation), and although I personally prefer the ground meat, it was no less delicious than the regularly scheduled item! There’s still a few hot dogs of his that I haven’t yet tried, and no doubt I’ll be getting to that in Camden on Fridays and Brick Lane on Sundays as the summer gets underway. For me it was 3 for 3 – all three legends surpassing all my expectations, and bringing about a truly memorable first full experience of what Eat Street has to offer.
With the sense of community, the fun of eating fresh, good food kerbside, talking to like minded foodies and the traders themselves, it was eat to see how the collective has gained its reputation. As I don’t work near King’s Boulevard, I don’t have the chance to visit these guys normally, so I can only hope that they make a weekend appearance every once in awhile throughout the summer. To those of you who can though, I couldn’t recommend visiting these guys more – a London food innovation that we should all enjoy and be proud of.
Eat.St: Wednesday, Thursday & Friday every week
4-6 traders each day, rotating for variety