Many times, I think that I should save a bit of money and get a £3 Sainsbury’s meal deal. But inevitably, particularly on Thursdays & Fridays, I will glance at the Kerb Gherkin Market roster and there is always at least one trader that gets me hooked. In this case, there were four.
Kerb is the essentially the successor to Eat St and, as far as I’m concerned, lives to bring top quality street food traders together in easily accessible locations as well as incubating (or rather as they say, inkerbating) new traders just getting into the industry. There are two main markets: King’s Cross running Tues-Fri from 11-2.30pm and Kerb Gherkin holding court on Thurs-Fri from 11-2.30pm. Which just means its damn near perfect when you need a substantial lunch to get you through the day. And substantial because once you get a whiff of all those delicious aromas emanating from a variety of stalls, you aren’t getting out with just a snack.
This is a good idea. The more people you can bring along the better it is for both you and the market in general. It’s better for you as you get to try more things (remember – sharing is caring!) and of course better for the traders as they live and die on their success in monetising their food. A few bad market days could spell the end for a new trader so please show your support!
However, keep in mind that the markets can get busy so it’s a good idea to set a meeting point before hand. You probably aren’t aiming to meet for a drink before hand given that it’s a workday lunch, but if you do then there is Revolutions around the corner and a number of pubs in Leadenhall Markets next door.
You’re here, what to eat?
EVERYTHING! I kid you not, it’s hard to find a bad trader at the markets as they tend to fade away before getting the Kerb stamp of approval. In this round up, we’ll focus on the ones I tried out today and get to the rest of the Kerb Krew in future posts.
Horn Ok Please – Indian Street Food
We’ll start with Horn Ok Please. I’ve written a review on them before (see it here), but the short form is that they’ve taken classic Indian street foods and made them accessible to a wider audience. Kudos to them for managing to serve up chaat (a spiced chickpea dish), moong dhal dosa (fried as you wait!), and bhel puri (a mix of crispy grains and noodles, onion, and pomegranate). We selected the chaat (£5) this time which was filling with a light warming spice. I think the bhel puri remains my favourite for the mix of textures, but the chaat is a close second. Sadly, there was no mango Frooti to be had today (they didn’t think there would be demand given the miserable weather) but I was promised one if I stopped by at Southbank this weekend. HOP – I’m holding you to that!
The Bowler – Balls on the Go
The next round was from The Bowler, a ballsy venture run by quite a pair. Sorry, couldn’t help a few bad puns given that this van specialises in balls. Order sizes comes in single or double ball or for the hungrier customer the three baller. You pick your ball (today there was either a mix of pork shoulder and beef chuck or a balafel), cover it in sauce (spicy tomato or thai green coconut curry), and add a side (long grain wild rice or salad). Add some coriander and friend onions on top and you have a great meal to eat on the go. The mixed pork & beef ball was incredible with tender meat bursting with flavour. I think they must steam the balls to keep them moist and warm as too many meatball end up being tough and chewy due to prolonged cooking. The spicy tomato sauce was a great counterpoint to depth of the meaty flavour although the salad got left a little by the way side. These guys (and gal) know their stuff when it comes to making a meatball and no trip to the market would be complete without paying them a visit. Prices are a bit high but still reasonable with the three baller coming in at £7.50.
Kimchinary – K-town Tacos
The third stall we tackled was a relative newb to the Kerb scene – Kimchinary. Hot on the trend of kimchi being used in less traditional ways (a trail blazed by Kimchi Cult which remains one of the top London burgers imho), Kimchinary serves up a ox cheek or pork belly soft taco with home-made kimchi. It’s beautiful to look at and even better to eat so needless to say Kimchinary has quickly made its way into my heart (via my stomach, naturally). The ox cheek was tender and juicy with a strong flavour profile that was complemented by the tart acidic notes of the kimchi. I especially loved the quick fried seaweed being used as a bit of decoration on the taco and almost couldn’t bring myself to eat it. Almost. Two tacos can be had for £6 or three for £8.
Yum Bun – Buns of the gods
Last, but certainly not least, Yum Bun. I’d credit these guys as drawing me into the London street food scene back when Eat St was just starting out. I was sceptical at first – I mean it looks like mostly wet dough served up by a non-stereotypical crew. I know it’s terrible, but we all do it – as they say on Avenue Q , everyone’s a little bit racist. The girls here, however, will blow any pre-conception you have about who clear out of the water. They know their stuff. I’ve eaten at the stall a number of times and the buns are always spot on with spectacular fillings. My personal favourite is the pork belly with hoisin sauce although the portabella mushroom with walnuts is a very very close second.
Alright, after all that I need a drink!
Well, tough. The traders don’t sell booze but most will have water and soda on hand (albeit for a bit of a steep price – transport costs and all that). You can get a cup of coffee from the Bean about Town or other similar coffee trucks around or stop by Pret.
Worth the dosh?
Overall, yes. There are some that seem slightly overpriced and in general you should be ready to part with around £7-10 for lunch but that’s more likely going to be because you want to. Best value of the day was Yum Bun at 3 delightful buns for £8 but Kimchinary came in a close second with 3 tacos for £7.50.
Find Kerb and the traders mentioned above here
Kerb – The Gherkin, 30 St. Mary Axe – twitter: @kerb_
Horn Ok Please: @horn_please
The Bowler: @theBowlerUK
Yum Bun: @yum_bun – also available at their permanent location!
31 Featherstone St, London, EC1Y 2BH