Camden, Southbank, Greenwich, Borough. Some of the greatest street food markets in England lie in London, and it’s an industry that is blowing up.
Everyone loves the ease of grab-and-go; to not be tied down to a table and chair and instead proceed with your day-to-day endeavours, both living your life and filling up your stomach with a box of pure delight. The joy of eating outside, free to choose when and where you consume your food, is unrivaled during the summer. It’s £20 to get to London and back, why not just stay on campus and go to the Street Kitchen for a fiver?
Located at the plaza just opposite Essentials, the stand goes head-to-head with everyone’s favourite Thai stand. Whilst, initially, I was skeptical – after two weeks of opting for the Street Kitchen, I never went back to pad thai. The food at the Street Kitchen was just too good, and I haven’t let go since. With a weekly-changing menu, this is the place on campus I visit most frequently because it’s simply impossible to get bored of it. In the past, they’ve served beautiful dishes ranging from Chicken Katsu burgers, to authentic vegan curries. Just take a look at their Instagram feed.
The Street Kitchen doesn’t shy away from being daring; spiced aubergine slices with pomegranate on Mezzaluna flatbread?! That’s the kind of stuff you’d find in actual street food markets, at a much higher markup. They routinely succeed in making their vegetarian and vegan options as appetizing as their meat ones, and source their produce locally whenever possible. All of these traits merit acknowledgement, specifically in the sustainability-conscious world that’s currently thriving for change.
The fact is, I love The Street Kitchen for their creativity. For the purpose of this review, I got their Spaghetti Carbonara: a simple dish, but incredibly simple to get wrong. Did The Street Kitchen pull it off?
The carbonara was surprisingly delicious in all respects. For the fiver I paid, I was expecting scrambled eggs with cold spaghetti and overcooked chicken. What I got was delicious carbonara sauce sticking succulently to spaghetti cooked a tad over al dente, with perfectly cooked chicken; the saltiness of the bacon lingering around to pull the whole thing together. The portion? Pretty generous – the whole box was filled with this collection of flavoursome transcendence. It was gone in mere minutes.
Now, here’s where things get a bit awful. The garlic bread? It was an add-on. And it was practically inedible.
Until this day, I’d never eaten a brick. This was the hardest thing I’ve ever had in my mouth (stop). It’s as if the kitchen assumed my teeth were made out of tiny chainsaws; my throat a garbage disposal. It was the absolute worst. I’m not overreacting, you’re overreacting. I promise you, I gave it a fair shot. Look at the number of bites I took.
Unfortunately, all my teeth were now broken so I couldn’t persevere. There are lengths I am not willing to cross, not even for journalism. Something I would like to highlight, however, is that this does not reflect the reliability of The Street Kitchen. Yes, I’ve had under-cooked fries and overcooked patties once in a while, but on the whole the quality of the food far surpasses its usual £5 price-point. As I’ve already highlighted, this place is the first I think of when I’m hungry on campus.
Whilst street food is great, a little more needs to be done regarding sustainability in the industry as a whole – and I hope Street Kitchen adapts to this. Encouraging people to recycle takeaway boxes, and reducing the number of plastics handed out, may be a start. Perhaps, if customers opt to sit on the tables in the plaza, they could be given a reusable plate instead? Little moves like this, especially on a university campus, would be great symbols of the traits we wish to take into the future of catering.
Head there for lunch later today, grab a box, and chill on the grass outside the library. Exams are almost over – you’ve earned this.