Get 'Em While They're Hot: London's Best Foodie Pop Ups
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Foodie pop ups are uncanny things for which strange rules seem to apply. They're allowed to set up just about anywhere, offer just about anything, and can last a day, a month or even a year by the looks of things. Amongst all this confusion and trickery we've scouted out some real winners, curating the likes of truffled chips, Japanese pancakes, Korean fried chicken, slow roast pork belly, chai teas, rum punches, and vegan Rastafarian bites.
Yep, it's going to be one hell of a ride (if you actually make it before they close).
Taking over the hobs at P. Franco is Anna Tobias - who cut her teeth at the likes of Rochelle Canteen and River Café, alongside some pretty impressive chefs. Known for her rustic British cooking, Anna chooses high-quality ingredients and does very little to them. She'll have you reconsidering the joys of boiled veg in no time.
There's no booking at P. Francs, so get down early evening for nostalgia inducing soups, stews, pies and puddings - all paired with top qual' natural wine.
If you've never been to a Strazzanti supper club this could be just the mo. They're pulling out all the romance with a saucy Sicilian menu, cocktails and a ceiling dripping in floristry.
A ticket to this baby will get you a serious line up of edible goodies. We're talking deep-fried primo sale cheese; wild fennel, pork belly and mozzarella croquettes; sourdough bread, cherry tomatoes and pesto trapanese; aubergine, mint and almond pasta; and their signature cakes.
Chef Fumio Tanga is in the coolest of the cool Institute of Light for six months, bringing okonomiyaki pancakes to the table.
You might have seen the Osaka-style Okonomiyaki (a more doughy pancake where all the ingredients are mixed into the batter) but this baby is Hiroshima style. It's made up of layer upon layer of yum, starting with a thin crepe, then cabbages, beanshoots, pork belly, egg noodles and an omelette. It's then topped with benishoga ginger, spring onions, mayo and that dark, sweet and tangy sauce that makes everything so delish' in Japan.
Shoreditch wouldn't be Shoreditch without the advent of a duck-themed pop up to please city slickers.
The menu is v French, v traditional and v tasty - whether you want to get lost in the rich saltiness of confit de canard; slice into a perfectly seared magnet de canard or tuck into a duck burger with cornichons. Sides include frites, puy lentils or green beans; and deserts stay classic with a crème brûlée and tarte au pommes. Could you get more French? Non, we think not.
Peiran Gong and Tongtong Ren from Chinese Laundry are back in business with a residency at Mountgrove Bothy. Their menu picks up on their fave traditional Chinese cuisine: dishes from the restaurant and from their childhood with lots of recognisable British produce thrown in.
This means the likes of sourdough with XO sauce; calf brain spring roll; 13 spiced lamb and carrot dumplings; or Sichuan cold-poached chicken with Chinese cabbage, basil roll, enoki and peanuts.
Asma Khan is an Indian cooking goddess if ever we saw one - her garlic prawns are seared in our minds ever since a memorable trip to Darjeeling Express - so when we heard about this pop up cafe we did get a little excited, it has to be said.
Tea room, cafe and bakery, Calcutta Canteen is a welcoming spot serving up a strong selection of Indian cakes, tarts and puddings, along with chai tea and sarnies too. A perfect refuge from the combo of rain and chaos that is Soho in winter.
This Trinidadian restaurant and rum shack is the fun fuelled brainchild of Sham Mahabir. Limin' brings the sunshine with a range of colourful dishes that reflect the multi-cultural tastes of the island; mixing Indo-, Afro-, and Chinese-Caribbean dishes.
Under the 'Indian' category you might find filled rotis, or doubles (fried dough chickpea curry sandwiches); the 'creole' offers akra with salt fish; while the 'Chinese' brings pepper prawns with soy, chilli and garlic. You'll be mixing foods, maxing rum punch, and likely relaxing too.
The King & Co is a Clapham fave with many a wearer of red socks. It prides itself on serving top notch beer and tippedy top notch grub.
For the next three months that grub will be brought to you by the Truffle team, a street food pop up serving hulking great plates of crave-inducing, truffle-infested treats. Think baked camembert with truffle honey or whole roast chicken stuffed with foie gras. This is heavy food, perfect for cold nights and booze-fuelled scoffing so make it count - you can always hit the gym in your cheese-induced dreams.
On Francis Road (Leyton's haven for the middle classes) sits a wine shop and grocers called Yardarm and right next to that a sweet little restaurant branch of the business. It's small, slick, and stylish - with dark green walls and fancy olive chairs, and it's currently under the talented hands of the seasonally minded, pastry trained Henrietta Inman.
Go for dinner (on Thursdays and Fridays) for qualitacious seasonal plates at fairly reasonable prices. Celery gratin with soda bread crumbs, sunflower seeds and braised lentils should see you right on a cold evening.
Over in Dalston there's this adorable little cafe called Coffee is My Cup of Tea. Every so often it plays host to a different pop up and this time it's Chicken and Gochu's shot.
So dust off your digits and tuck in to the sticky goodness of Korean fried chicken with gochu chilli and soy sauce; kimchi fried rice; danmuji pickles; broccoli and tofu; bulgogi beef bun; and authentic hobakjuk butternut squash soup.
If you're hankering for some Filipino flavours then take your hungry butt down to The Sun and 13 Cantons. Ferdinand "Budgie” Montoya (former head chef of Foley’s) is taking over the kitchens of this Soho pub for the next couple of months with all sorts of dishes from his motherland (all 7,000 islands of it).
The main event is the lechon - a slow roast pork belly with thin and hecka crispy crackling, served with house pickles - wowza.
Founded by two Caribbean Londoners, Marie Mitchell and Joseph Pilgrim, Island Social Club is all about exploring British Caribbean culture. After a few successful supper clubs and pop ups they’ve set up shop in Haggerston for a year.
Pop in for Rasta-inspired vegan treats and fiery goat curries, washed down with little-known Caribbean rums, family punch recipes and homemade ginger beer. All with a generous helping of friendly faces and a hefty line up of live music, exhibitions and more.