My London: the street-food chef

As told to Ianthe Butt

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London is bubbling with culinary inspiration, and it doesn’t have to cost you the earth to try the city’s best foodie offerings. With that in mind, Andy Taylor, executive chef and co-founder of French American street food icon Le Bun, shares his top 10 places to experience the best budget bites around London.

1. KERB Camden Market

When I first moved here to be in a band twelve years ago, I used to play at the dingy indie bars in Camden, but now the area has a cool food scene. This street food market is packed with stalls run by young people. Club Mexicana’s vegan tacos are banging – limey, salty, crunchy and spicy, they use pulled jackfruit instead of pork and you don’t miss the meat. Ink’s Szechuan pepper squid with pastel-coloured mayonnaise is also very tasty.

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The grilled cheddar cheese on toast at The Cheese Bar is perfect – the bread is super crunchy and the cheese is melted just right. It’s oozy, gooey, messy, salty and delicious.

2. The Cheese Bar

London’s best cheese on toast is served up by my mate Matt Carver at the Cheese Bar in Camden Stables opposite Proud Galleries. We both started on the street food scene together slogging it out at festivals. The grilled cheddar cheese on toast is perfect – the bread is super crunchy and the cheese is melted just right. It’s oozy, gooey, messy, salty and delicious.

  • Andy loves Clapton’s P Franco for its homely atmosphere.

    Try it for yourself…

    P Franco is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 16:00 to 21:00, Thursday and Friday from 16:00 to 23:00, Saturdays from 14:00 to 23:00, and Sundays from 14:00 to 22:00. Nearest station: Clapton railway (overground).€49 return

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3. The Dundee Arms

This boozer on Bethnal Green Road is a proper British pub, with wooden tables, retro red velvety seating and taps all along the bar serving great ales. London is having a real craft beer moment and they serve a great selection here. The football is usually on in the background and there’s always a lively crowd. Prop yourself up at the bar – that’s where all the action is – and strike up a conversation.

4. Rough Trade Records

Not only does Rough Trade do the best selection of vinyl in London – a sea of every genre from hip-hop to death metal – they also hold gigs in the store. Sometimes when you buy something you’ll get a free ticket to a show. Last time I was there I picked up a limited edition of Nirvana’s In Utero, one of the first records that made me fall in love with music.

  • Sizzling chicken shish kebabs at Lahore Kebab House ©ravphotographix /Alamy.

    The spice of life

    Did you know that the UK has the highest Indian population in Europe – and therefore some of the best Indian restaurants on the continent? East London’s Brick Lane is famous for its tandoor restaurants, but it’s also worth exploring suburban North London areas such as Southall for more hidden gems.€49 return

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  • Tuck into the best toastie in town – according to Andy – at The Cheese Bar.
  • Join London’s ramen renaissance at Tonkotsu.

    Ramen around town

    Tonkotsu is named after a type of ramen specific to Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost island. Try this non-nonsense London restaurant’s noodle-and-soup bowls at one of six locations around town.

5. Broadway market

Jam-packed with hipsters sporting moustaches, beards, tattoos and wearing checked shirts (probably me and my friends), Broadway Market is a bit like a slightly cooler version of well-known Borough Market. It’s open every Saturday, and is where I go if I want to find a new, different cheese or unusual ingredient for a new dish. Take a stereo and have a lazy picnic on the grass at London Fields or play some football on the green.

6. Lahore Kebab House

Brick Lane is famous for its curry houses, but the best in London in my opinion is Lahore Kebab House, which is a short walk away near Whitechapel. You don’t go there for the ambience – it’s a canteen with bright lighting and simple plastic tables, but the food is incredible and reasonably priced. Watch out for my go-to, the sweet, smoky and spicy lamb ribs.

  • Locals soak up the sunshine at East London’s Broadway Market © Elena Rostunova/Alamy.

    Going to market

    Open year-round, London’s buzzing food markets really come into their own during the summer months, when tourists and Londoners alike congregate to sample everything from street food to craft beers from local suppliers.€49 return

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7. Tonkotsu

Ramen is having a renaissance in London, and Tonkotsu on Mare Street is my local joint. The ramen is made from pork broth braised for 16 hours, and it’s meaty and moreish. Another must-try is the Japanese fried chicken marinated in soy and ginger. Ask for some Kewpie mayonnaise to dip it in. If you sit in the far booth in the front section you get a view of staff hand-making noodles.

8. Temper

Smack in the middle of Soho, this basement restaurant by Neil Rankin is a carnivore’s delight, with the most incredible-looking open kitchen with cuts of meat hanging down and smoking over wood. Neil’s larb of burnt ends fuses American barbecue and Thai, and the Brigadeiro baked cookie with dulche de leche ice cream is one of the most memorable desserts I’ve had.

9. Electric Diner

Ladbroke Grove, not far from Portobello Road, was one of the first places I lived in London so I know the area well. The décor of Electric Diner was inspired by LA’s Au Cheval, and the atmosphere here is a dark-and-dingy diner meets smart hotspot. It’s next door to one of London’s oldest cinemas, and the Bloody Marys are the best – salty, sweet and punchy. The secret ingredient? Briny pickle juice.

10. P Franco

One for foodies, P Franco in Clapton started out as a wine shop then morphed into a restaurant when the owners brought in a long wooden dining table. The vibe is homely, as if you’re at a friend’s dinner party, and dishes have unusual combinations you’d never think to put together such as crumbled goat’s cheese with coffee granules. It’s not wacky for the sake of being wacky though as it’s all completely tasty. Don’t look at the wine menu, just get Phil (the manager) to give you a recommendation. Try a glass of orange wine, which has the zinginess of white wine and the depth of a red.

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