From the Kitchens: Our Six Most Queued for Dishes
We explore what market plates are generating the longest queues and loudest buzz this spring, from the hip cauliflower shawarma to the humble pastel de nata.
1. Cauliflower Shawarma
Kitchen: Berber & Q
Why queue: This modern vegetarian shawarma displays the cauliflower in all its glory – served whole and dressed in tahini, rose petals, pomegranate seeds, parsley and pine nuts. It’s both smokey-sweet and spiced, and comes perfectly charred and crusted from the open grill. Hints of Berber & Q founder Josh Katz’s training alongside Yotam Ottolenghi are evident in this much-celebrated dish.
2. Fruit Tea
Not technically a dish, but with such notable queues we had to tip off this springtime-appropriate stall. The headliner is a thirst-quenching YiFang Fruit Tea that combines fresh fruit slices with the unique tang of Taiwanese tea. In-the-know London students got the memo first – you’ll find a stylish and youthful crowd queuing daily. All ingredients are natural and inspired by the founder’s great-grandmother YiFang.
3. Pastel de Nata
Kitchen: Taberna Do Mercado
Why queue: The Portuguese custard tart is a humble classic with a mysterious past – the original recipe was allegedly sold by a monk in the 1830’s to a deli in Lisbon. Today, renowned chef Nuno Mendes’s nostalgic take on the pastel de nata has critics raving and punters lining up. Inspired by Mendes’s childhood memories of trips to cafes with his grandmother, the buttery pastry and near-liquid centres are a market must-try. Drop by at 11am when they are fresh from the oven (and still in stock).
Why queue: A rarefied Taiwanese take on fried chicken, this trending side dish looks like popcorn chicken but comes meticulously seasoned with seductive herbs including fresh basil. Order as a rightful companion to the equally popular Braised Pork Rice main for authentic and traditional nourishment.
5. Tea Leaf Salad
Why queue: A lively and nutty masterpiece from modern Burmese kitchen Lahpet. The sought-after tea leaf salad is a traditional recipe compiled from split peas, purple cabbage and pickled tea leaves. Delightfully crunchy and fresh, it makes a superb starter or side – you’d be pushed to find a Lahpet review that doesn’t name-drop this cultivated dish.
6. Reuben Sandwich
Kitchen: Monty’s Deli
Why queue: A charming retro sandwich reminiscent of what you might expect from a New York kosher-style deli. Arriving stacked high with salt beef made from scratch (also available with pastrami), toasted rye bread, melted Swiss cheese, mustard, Russian dressing and kraut. This kitchen’s take on a mouth-watering Jewish classic was recently voted TimeOut magazine’s 2nd best dish in London.