01 | Jul | 15

Richard Johnson

Hard Wok Pays Off

It’s been one heck of a year for Bangwok. They’re the first of the 14 traders announced for the Scotland and the North heats of the 2015 British Street Food Awards. And they’re the latest to go indoors. After two successful stints in Trinity Kitchen – the street food shopping mall — they fell in love with Leeds and decided to stay. But much as they love the city, Sarah and Dong will always think of Bankgok as home.

“They call it the city that never sleeps” says Sarah. “It’s actually the city that never stops eating. There’s the som tum lady wandering the streets with her whole set-up balanced on her shoulders – ready to put it down and pound a papaya salad right there and then. Or the dried baby octupus displayed on a rack that’s welded to a push bike. In Bangkok you don’t have to find food — food finds you.”

The lovely couple got married in Bangkok. And the catering wasn’t a problem. “Once the sun went down motorcycle food carts started showing up and before we knew it there was an impromptu food court assembling along the road outside. Some kids next door saw an opportunity and set up a mini whiskey soda shop. In Thailand anything goes — no permits, no licences, just common sense catering.”

The pair will be bringing their legendary tuk tuk to The Steamer in Newcastle to compete in the heats. And Dong has promised to do his signature BBQ pork neck – even though it’s a real hard sell. “People over here queue in droves for a bacon sandwich or a hot dog” he says. “But when it comes to an actual slab of pork people seem wary. In Thailand we’re addicted to pork. It might mean free tasters, but nothing makes me happier than bringing the curious over to my side.”