Sunday at Maltby Street Market: still a London street food staple
“Maltby shmaltby – it just gets so busy, there, so I’ve stopped going,” a few people have said to me recently about Maltby Street Market in Bermondsey.
Well, fusty friends, I’ve got news. Get down there for Sunday brunch you’ll find it a little quieter…
I decided to go to Ropewalk at Maltby Street because I’m writing something about the market as part of a book (not mine) coming out next year. And last Sunday at around midday, there was that air of excitement that you often get at the start of an event: there are those first arrivals who turn up early and wander around slightly self consciously not knowing what to do with themselves. Then about twenty minutes to half an hour later, more people begin to walk in, at which point the real rhythm of the market falls into place. Traders pick up their cooking pace, the early visitors, now sat at tables with brunch and two drinks down them, watch the world go by, and newcomers stride up and down working out which stall to make a beeline for. There is steam billowing up from African Volcano‘s barbecues, sizzles of hot cheese cooking on the grills at The Cheese Truck and Hungry Donkey, more smells of cheese pouring out from the pan of tartiflette at Comptoir Gourmand, and the low hum of people talking.
This was how it was on my first Sunday visit to the market now so well known by London folk. I’ve always been on a Saturday, which is, according to every trader I spoke to last week, the busiest day.
I tried four super things this time, including a St John doughnut oozing with lemon cream, and some ‘dipped pork’ made by a new stall called Salty Loins which is actually closing up after this weekend and heading to cater on Friday evenings and Saturdays at Brew By Numbers microbrewery on Enid Street.
Here’s a bit about the other two:
This, a stall specialising in ‘sushi burgers’ is a guest spot running for six weeks at Maltby, with four more to go.
Run by a primary school supply teacher called Chris Evans, his husband Munish, and his brother Mat, Sticky Bundits has been operating for just under two months – you can recognise it from quite far away, thanks to the picture of a highwayman’s black mask scrawled over the gazebo. Having lived in Japan 10 years ago, Evans had tried a version of rice burgers there and felt they would translate well in London.
This above is the boom cha, a Vietnamese noodle soup dish made with marinated pork and slow coked pork belly, that Evans has turned into a ‘burger’ patty, and chucked on a sesame rice patty, added what he calls Asian basil chutney, and another layer of rice on top. It’s top notch: big on seasoning (peppery and sweet), succulent, and only begins to fall apart at the very end…
This is a business specialising in Burmese food, a cuisine that really hasn’t yet to my knowledge been explored by the London street food market. My experience of eating in Burma wasn’t great, because I had food poisoning for the majority of my visit there, but I do remember the fermented tea leaf salad being something I wished I could eat more often back home.
Lahpet is run by Dan Anton, who works in recruitment but is planning to go full time with Lahpet once it’s found its feet. Having travelled there, he too wanted to bring over some of the food he most enjoyed eating, and now employs a Burmese chef to develop the recipes.
The Lahpet Thohk, their signature fermented tea leaf salad, is superb: a vigorous and crunchy combination of pickled green tea leaves, toasted sesame seeds, fried garlic, roasted peanuts and tomato.
He trades at Maltby Street every Sunday, and has plans to turn the idea into a restaurant at some point. If the rest of the menu is as nice as this, I wish him well.
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