Saturday, 28 May 2011

London - Guyanese Roti Truck

Brixton Market comes up trumps again.  While its international array of acclaimed cafes and restaurants get all the press, delicious food can be had in the streets surrounding the covered market, too. The Guyanese roti truck is green and parked up alongside a couple of other carts down Brixton Station Road. The lady inside - her regulars call her Aunty - is brusquely friendly, and makes everything she sells.

Out of the choices of curried goat, jerk chicken, chickpea curry or potato curry, I chose the potato curry roti, partially because it was £2.50 and partially because the man in front of me was ordering four of them.  He had good reason to be that keen.  The curry is heated up in the microwave (there isn't enough room for an oven in the van, although there is a stove top for making the rotis), before being wrapped up burrito-style in a fresh roti.  Chunks of potato are covered in a thick paste-sauce flavoured with your typical curry spicing (garam masala, ginger, cumin).  The roti is toothsome and, while tasting slightly of oil, is not oily or greasy.  The roti also easily holds the amount of curried potatoes, so there is no spillage as you are walking around, and the excess sauce is soaked into the bread at the bottom.  One potato roti kept me going for eight hours, a marvel for only £2.50.

When in Brixton and looking for very cheap and deliciously cheerful food, avoid the Guardian-acclaimed Kaosan or the chi-chi coffee shops in the arcade.  Head outside, along Pope's Road and Brixton Station Road, where Brixtonians get their fixes, for a better deal and no yummy-mummies and hipsters ruining your lunch.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

London - ICCo Pizza

46 Goodge St,
London W1T 4LU

Pizzas from £3.50

Italian Coffee Company (Icco) on Urbanspoon

Little needs to be said about ICCo Pizza on Goodge Street. It's a student-on-a-budget fave, with cheap and large pizzas served up at speed.  They aren't the best pizza you will ever taste, they certainly aren't Franco Manca, but £4 for an 11 inch margherita in central London is a deal that the hungry will grasp eagerly with both hands.  A little grease, an unhealthy amount of pooling cheese, and tomato-y sauce atop a dense crust, and you're full for the next eight hours or so while your digestive system curses you and your taste buds roll over in happy submission.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

London - Le Gia

41-42 Deptford Broadway, 
London SE8 4PH

Rare Beef Pho (Lunch menu): £4.50
Coconut drink: £1.80
Le Gia on Urbanspoon

Vietnamese food was the initial impetus for writing this blog.  I loved it and could not find it in Manchester (until I did).  Being in London for a week, I could hardly ignore the wealth of Vietnamese on offer, and made my way to Deptford.

On and around Deptford High Street are a fair few Vietnamese places. Le Gia, situated in a cavernous white building, was the only one open for a 3pm lunch on a Monday. Fair enough.  Inside, it looks a little like a school canteen, with high white walls and utilitarian tables.  The school vibe is smashed by the room's well-stocked bar and small shrine, however.

I got the rare beef pho and a coconut drink that was flavoured with long strips of coconut flesh.  The pho was close to perfect - chewy rice noodles, a broth silky with meaty depth and fragrant flavours (and not just the kind from the "Thai Five Spice" shaker), and delivered hot enough to partially cook the thin strips of beef but keep them tender.  The accompaniments - beansprouts, sweet and spicy basil, lemon wedge and another earthy-spicy herb I couldn't identify - were barely needed due to the on-target flavours of the broth and meat, but the basil added a sweet note that was otherwise lacking.  No additional chillies were offered, and the broth barely tingled, but any heat would have seemed superfluous due to its superb quality.

Deptford is hardly a destination for most people (although it is easily accessible) let alone a food destination.  A quick peek around the Deptford High Street area, however, brought to light a plethora of small restaurants (mostly Vietnamese, but some Indian and Caribbean) that are gaining increasing recognition on websites such as Chowhound. Should you venture to Deptford during lunchtime, a stomach-expanding bowl of unusually good pho for the bargain price of £4.50 should be on your must-have list.