1. Street Kitchen
Where: somewhere in London (check @StreetKitchen)
There are a ton of decent food spots in London, such as the Lahore Kebab House on the Streatham High road, but the don of them all has to be the Street Kitchen. The place has such a great look – a silver stream caravan converted into a kitchen – and serves the most-tastiest, gourmet food you’ll ever get near a takeaway carton. This is proper Michelin-starred restaurant food bang on the street, with no waiting or booking and light on the pocket. This is the ultimate solution to all the phoney places giving it large and delivering nish. I asked Mark Jankle, one half of Street Kitchen, how the good people of London reacted to the new venture.
‘We had a phenomenal response from the customers that tasted the Street Kitchen dishes. I don’t think that our customers had ever tasted such high quality and delicious food being served from a hatch in a trailer. In only two weeks we built up a very loyal customer following; scores of people would come every day at each location, many of them even twice a day. People would buy a box at lunchtime and come back hours later just to tell us how delicious the food was. We were bowled over by our customers’ enthusiasm, positive feedback, encouragement and support.’
Street Kitchen is re-launching April 2011 so pull up and check their Twitter feed for where and when. Then go and check their food and then spread the word that you’ve tasted the future of street food.
2. Ciuri-ciuri, Rome
Rome is a wicked mix of old-school and urban. It has the best climate (bearable winters and killer summers), the friendliest, fittest people and the food is off the scale. Okay it seems a bit expensive when you buy a drink in a bar, but there are always bar snacks included in the price (Italian style tapas) – which is the best idea ever! The tourist spots (The Coliseum, the Vatican) are best avoided (unless you really want some ‘culture’ or are a nonce), as they are ram-jammed all-year round. Just head for the little streets in and around the centre of town. This is where you’ll find the real deal holyfield. The Trastevere (left bank of the Tiber, just over the Ponte Sisto) area is one of the coolest spots you’ll ever hang out in – day or night. The streets are narrow, cobbled and lined with bars, restaurants, pizzerias, workshops, boutiques, and shops, but with street art all over the place and an endless stream of beautiful boys and girls lamping past. But the best-kept secret is a great area called Monti, near the Cavour metro station. A lot of fashion houses, bars, Indian, pizza and seafood restaurants and cool spots where the more laid back locals hang out. There is an amazing Sicilian cake and snack shop just around the corner on Via Leonina just down from the metro station. It’s called Ciuri-Ciuri and they serve up the best street food called Arancini – deep fried risotto balls filled with either cheese and spinach or bolognaise. Make sure to get some bomba (Sicilian cake) for afters.
3. Motorino Pizza, Brooklyn
When I'm in NY I never go above 14th street as the L(ower) E(ast) S(ide) is where it is at. It used to be the place for all the skaters/boho/artists/cool fuckers but then the twats with money moved in and forced the prices up and the dirty people moved out. But since the 'recession' the place is getting back to what it used to be, as the rents have dropped as no-one has any money - or no-one wants to be seen to have any money. I think they still have it, but New Yorkers are a weird lot as you never really know what is really going on in there. But over the water in Brooklyn things are a different matter. What happened was that all the cool spots in the LES got too expensive so all the artists, musicians and designers moved out to Brooklyn (DUMBO, Williamsburg) where the apartments were ten times as big and a tenth of the price. Soon some amazing food joints were springing up and without a shadow of doubt, Motorino Pizza in Brooklyn, is the don of the mozzarella covered dough disc. I fucking love this place as the food is mental and the atmosphere horizontal. The pizzas are properly authentic and even my Italian Granny would check these with a smile. The bloke who makes them is covered in tatts and looks more like he should be selling you crank than the best Pizza in the US.
The local street food dish is the Brochette, which is a goat kebab.
4. Nirulas, New Delhi
After a 48-hour cheap flight from Heathrow via Moscow and Dubai, I arrived at New Delhi Airport somewhat confused, almost tripping... As soon as the doors opened and I stepped out of the knackered old Russian plane into the warm November Delhi night I knew that I was truly out of my comfort zone – the sky was sunset red and hazed with pollution and the air smelt different. Welcome to the East. After a mass bundle at immigration I cleared the security of the airport and expected to be met by a crowd of beggars, but outside the arrival hall there were just few people lying down quietly by a wall and a pre-paid taxi booth. I climbed into a taxi and drove out into the Delhi evening looking for an address in Vasant Vihar. The taxi driver couldn’t find the address and when he eventually succeeded, the people I was staying with weren’t expecting me and were out for the evening at a Halloween party. Their house-keeper and security guard eyed my long hair suspiciously and made me wait in the garage for another 4 hours, the guard tapping his palm with his lathi, as he kept his eye on me. This was when it all got a bit much…like a spicy dream, a repeating nightmare.
I got the munchies and had to go and get something to eat. Luckily there is a great mall in Vasant Vihar and there I found in-beween the Bangra mall rats, a branch of the Nirulas chain. The Tikka burger is the ultimate east-meets-west street food. A spicy tikka-marinated chicken burger in a bun with a side of fries and it was just what I needed to be able to go back and deal with the security guard hating on my English ass.
5. 20/20 Vision, Rwanda
On the third day I was in Kigali, I was nearly kidnapped. I’m in the roughest part of town to watch a crew of local guys doing some parkour, and we draw a bit of a crowd. Not sure how many but it gets out of hand and the 10-or-so Rastas we’re with who are supposed to be providing security, can’t control the situation. It is out of hand and so I chip down the road and some of the crowd follows. A guy who’s clearly off his tits starts to make trouble when someone in my crew rolls a cigarette, banging on about not smoking weed, and if we do we have to buy it from him. We try to talk to the guy but he is so fucked and ranting that this is when I realise that we have to get the out of there. This nutter has a few mates with him (all completely off their heads) milling around trying to stir things up so I flag down a cab and get in there with my minder. Half an hour later we meet up with the Rasta guys who were supposedly looking after us in a café back in their area. They stroll in laughing and one of them turns to me and says – ‘those guys back there – they were going to take you!’ I ask him what he means and he says ‘Kidnap. They were planning to kidnap you!’ My arse goes for a second, and he sees this. ‘But do not worry. We would have fought them. It would have been OK. Really!’ You certainly live for real when the day might be your last.
The local street food dish is the Brochette, which is a goat kebab. Other local food seems to revolve around the Rwandan buffet, which is a bit hit or miss in Africa! I spent a few hours hanging out in a place called 20/20 Vision in a street near to the Novotel (locally know as the Hovotel as it’s full of beautiful whores) eating wicked Brochettes, sipping a cool beer, and watching the locals eating drinking and getting down. The place is made up of booth in the form of miniature round thatched huts, the speciality is the deep fried half potatoes, which went down well with me. A couple of knackered TVs blast out local music and pirated US RnB videos as well as football and other shit sporting events, but that just adds to the ambience. When I came here there were some old drunk Germans with a few of the larger local working girls, who took a shine to me and kept waving me over, obviously preferring me to their older, square-headed johns. I kept my head down and ate my food.
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