Tag Archives: street food

Step Twenty-Five: Maltby Street food tour

12 Nov


London’s street food scene is mushrooming, and for the real London foodie in the know, Maltby Street market is a must.

While Borough market has a well-established devoted following, and is famous for certain stalls (the raclette), Matlby in Bermondsey isn’t as well known which makes it even more intriguing.


In terms of appearance, it isn’t the typical food market. Stall after stall line both sides of the narrow street but some back into old warehouse spaces under arches, making them look even more makeshift and quirky. The planks and old scaffolding behind the stalls look a little unstable, but traders have embraced it all and use them as shelves to prop up bottles and hang sign boards from.


On the Saturday morning that we went, we had to walk single file at times – it get’s that busy. Some people were already enjoying a tipple from bartenders serving drinks from a dresser, while the other option for diners was to take their food to an eating area in an antiques shop, and sit among old bath tubs and sinks. Trendy, but without the East Landan trendos.


Food options on offer – smoked salmon, pastrami bagels (ultimate Jewish soul food), hummus and beef stew, fillet steak sandwiches and more, and moving onto the sweet stuff – cookies, waffles, French tarts and the like.


Apart from the food stalls, some well-established businesses have set up shop permanently in the old warehouses, like Bea’s of Bloomsbury and St John’s Butchers, hinting that Bermondsey is well up and coming in London’s foodie revolution. The eateries were already packed by the time we got there, so I’ll definitely be going back for the half-restaurant, half-warehouse dining experience.


And after the nibbling and eating, we walked around the antique shops which have the most bizarre finds on offer, including a headstone for Simon Cowell that was taken from the London Dungeon.


Maltby Street is intriguing, and you wouldn’t know it was there unless you were directed. It’s within walking distance of Borough market, which is where our tour, led by funnywoman and guide Emma Parker of Coutours, started.

We were led round the stalls and given tastings, starting off with our morning bread and moving on to explore the raclette, oysters and more.


The tour isn’t just a case of dine and dash though. At each stop, Emma imparts her wisdom and shares the “secret history” of London’s street food. Who knew fish and chips were a hybrid creation from Ireland and Portugal, and that oysters were the first, and very cheap, example of street food?


Tours are available to guests staying at Presidential Apartments, luxury suites in Kensington, with pick-up at the apartments, then heading to Borough and then Maltby.

Tour prices: £28pp for minimum two people, or £75 for a family of two adults and up to three children.

Tour times: 10am-1pm.

Call Emma on 07934781 056 to book your place.







Step Twenty-Two: fun dining at Flesh & Buns

27 Aug


Flesh & Buns. I wasn’t too keen on the name when I first heard it. It honestly made me think of Hannibal or some kind of Chinese dumpling filled with questionable meat.

But going with the flow, the name and the rave reviews intrigued me.

The signature dish is the Hirata bun, originally from Taiwan and literally translating as “tiger eating pork”. The concept is simple, it’s basically like a Western sandwich. You get a folded steamed white bun, soft as clouds, and fill it with whatever “flesh” you want.


We had the crispy duck leg, served with sour plum soy sauce, and the flat iron steak, served with BBQ sauce. Both fillings were gorgeous – the duck slid off the bone, while the steak came in tender strips cooked nice and pink in the middle.

But it was hard to choose. We could have gone for the braised pork belly dolloped with mustard miso, or the grilled sea bass slathered with coriander miso, or the salmon teriyaki with lemon and sea salt. Any of the mains really. Mmmmmmm.

Each “flesh” dish is served with two steamed buns, lettuce, cucumber and pickle, and is designed for sharing. You can order extra buns on the side, which you may want to do if there are more than two of you.


It’s such a simple concept and hails from Taiwanese street food that it’ll probably be making its mark on the London street food scene in no time.

The hirata bun has already made its grand entrance in New York, and from the way the restaurant’s designed with its industrial chic interior, you can tell the owner’s been influenced by the Big Apple.

Our dessert was oh so American too. As a S’mores virgin, I had to see what all the fuss was about. I don’t even like marshmallows but I’m getting cravings for their s’mores as I write.

Sticking with the DIY-dining theme, part of the fun is roasting the marshmallows yourself and sliding them in between the biscuits and matcha green tea chocolate. I repeat, mmmmmm.

This new Japanese-style restaurant definitely lived up to its cracking reputation and if you’re over the burger bandwagon in Soho, give Flesh & Buns a try.



The details:

Location: 41 Earlham Street, Covent Garden tube.

Opening times: Mon-Tues, noon-3pm, 5pm-10:30pm. Wed-Fri, noon-3pm, 5pm-11:30pm. Sat, noon-11:30pm. Sun, noon-9:30pm.

Price: flesh & bun mains to share from £13-24.

To see menus, click here.



Step Fourteen: where hipsters buy flowers

11 May


Street food markets are right up my strasse, so at first I was a little skeptical about visiting a flower market – I didn’t want any flowers, so why would I go? – but hats off to the Columbia Road Flower Market. It was a great way of spending a Sunday morning.

The market does what it says on the tin. Just one road, lined with stalls and stalls of flowers. There was definite hustle and bustle, traders crying out in a typical sales banter way, tourists and hipsters jostling each other down the road carrying bouquets and potted pots, and the smell of nature cushioning you as you walk.

If you aren’t good with crowds, don’t come here. But if you can just about manage, it’s worth a visit to pick up flowers, plants, herbs or seeds for reasonable prices. Anything from tulips to roses to black lilies to cabbage. Yes, cabbage.

Regardless of whether you plan to buy or not, it’s a good place to people watch and admire the characters of East London, wander round the little boutique shops on Columbia Road, stop for a little respite in the outdoor cafés and restaurants, or just chill out and listen to the buskers.

Overall, a buzzy market, as it should be. Just mind the crowds.




Location: Columbia Road, between Old Street and Bethnal Green tube stations

Opening times: Sunday, 8am-3pm

To see the official website, click here.