London Street Food: Okonomiyaki and Onigiri

Sunday Up Market on Brick Lane is the perfect place to nip in for some street food from all over the world. My nose led me to a Japanese stall last weekend where I tried something completely new: okonomiyaki and onigiri. It was the only stall with an exceptionally long queue rather than a mass of people crowding to be served. And, it smelled absolutely delicious.

I’m not a fan of veggies, generally. I’m a carnivore. This afternoon, however, I went vegetarian and it was, admittedly, scrumptious.

Okonomiyaki is a savoury “pancake”. It can be made with a variety of ingredients, but these particular ones has cabbage and some other veggies like corn which were mixed together in a bowl (probably with something else I didn’t see). This mixture is scooped onto a grill in a plate-sized heap, covered with cheese and left under a lid to cook and brown slightly on the top. After a while, it is brushed with a “special” sauce, cooked a bit longer and then scooped onto a plate. It is then drizzled with mayo and seaweed flakes and handed to you with a fork. 

On the side, you can order onigiri. Again, there are many ways to make these, but the one I had was a triangular rice “ball” cooked in sesame oil and smothered in garlic soy sauce. At the end, it is taken out of the pan and wrapped in a rectangular piece of seaweed.

My experience of Japanese food comes entirely from all sorts of sushi, so this was a great taste of something new.

Vhils Scratches a Face for Spitalfields

There are certain artists whose work is always instantly recognizable and Portuguese artist Vhils is one of them.  I saw this one behind Brick Lane and Hanbury Street, near the back entrance to the Sunday Up Market (which, by the way, is brilliant if you haven’t been. More on that in a later entry…)

In an interview with Michael Slenske, Vhils explained his art of scratching into the surface: “It’s a process of trying to reflect upon our own layers. Its aim is not to come up with solutions but to conduct research, to confront systems, materials, processes, elements, to create friction and confront the individual with the process, with the system: an active critical process that stems from the same environment upon which it aims to reflect.”