29 | Jun | 11

Richard Johnson

Street Food Gets Posh

It’s the street food equivalent of fitting a square peg into a round hole – getting a fully-operational kitchen into a 1960s Airstream trailer. For a start, an Airstream’s doors are unbelievably small. And you just can’t get equipment with sharp corners into a trailer with that many curves. But if by some miracle you do manage it, you’ve then got to strengthen the floor to support your two tons of catering equipment. Phew. No wonder Jun Tanaka and Mark Jankel from Street Kitchen looked tired when they opened up Street Kitchen in Broadgate last night.

I love Street Kitchen – that’s why they’re coming to the finals of the British Street Food Awards in September. For anyone who thinks that this business is still about the Polish fellah with three fingers, pushing a rusty metal handcart round the night bus queue in Trafalgar Square at 3am, think again. The lamb was amazing. The saucing and the presentation was wonderfully cheffy. But the politics of their business (from the sourcing, direct from local farms, to the compostable plates and cutlery) will make your heart sing too. Not that they bang on about it…….

I say ‘lamb’. That’s underselling it. It was a confit shoulder of Elwy Valley lamb served with potatoes marinated in a basil vinaigrette and a salad of Dorstone goat’s cheese, Riverford Organic cherry tomatoes, pickled cucumbers and onion. The only thing that made it “street food” was that it was served on the street. I’ve had tweets suggesting that Street Kitchen aren’t part of the street food revolution because Mark and Jun are established chefs. What difference does that make? Apart from the fact that they know how to make a bechamel sauce. Everyone should have access to great food. Power to the people!

I like the fact that Jun and Mark bring a real restaurateur’s aesthetic to street food. So, yes, we were sitting on vegetable crates while we ate our lamb shoulder. But the crates had been specially made, out of Kentish wood, and had never actually carried vegetables. They were designer vegetable crates. And were incredibly sturdy, which was a relief as I moved on to my second Eton Mess. Which wasn’t Messy at all. The Street Kitchen team are keen to get down and dirty with the Chocstars and Meatwagons of this world, but I’m not so sure. City sorts trust that Michelin vibe. Different strokes for different folks.

Street Kitchen
Finsbury Avenue Square
Broadgate Estate (next to Gaucho Broadgate)
27 June – 8 July 11.30-14.30