Test Driving Borough Market Kitchen - the market's open-air food court

roomLooking down onto the main seating space, this is where you'll find all of the smaller stalls. 

What can you tell us about Borough Market Kitchen?

It's the latest big addition to Borough Market and sees them edging into the food hall arena. It's a large covered space at the back of Borough Market (it was once a car park) where most of the street food vendors (and more) are now all based, as well as larger stands/mini restaurants where you can pitch up for some counter dining. 

Where is it?

Considering it's quite a big change to the back of the market - it's not that well signposted. The best way to describe the location is that it's right behind Roast restaurant, so if you head in that direction, you should find it fairly easily. Alternatively, if you're coming from the street, there's also a way in just opposite Elliot's (and near BAO). Look for the Mei Mei stand from there to find the entrance. 

What's the set-up?

The main part of Borough Market Kitchen is a large communal dining area with a huge stepped section (as further seating). That area is surrounded by small food stalls. On the outer ring of the space are several larger stands, most of which have some form of counter seating. So you can either grab something (or a few things) and take it to the seating area (buzzers let you know when the food is ready) or you can set yourself up at one of the counters. On our visit, we concentrated on the counters.

roomMost of the larger stands in Borough Market Kitchen have counter seating - above is Mei Mei, Brindisa (probably the largest space and with bespoke heating) and Shuk. 

So what can we expect at the larger stands?

The first place we tried was Mei Mei. This was, for us, the biggest draw of Borough Market Kitchen. It's the first standalone space from Elizabeth Haigh, the former head chef of Pidgin, and is centred around a dish of Hainanese poached chicken and rice. Here's what we had, perched on their counter. 

roomThis is the main Chicken Rice Set meal (£12.50). That's "poached fragrant chicken on rice, cucumber, coriander and chilli garlic sauce" served with soup. You can switch this to deep-fried chicken too (an extra £1) but we had some of that on the side. Both poached and fried are outstanding (the coating on the fried chicken was phenomenal) and we think this is must-have if you're in the Borough Market area.

roomAnd this is the Kaya Toast (£3) - a thick slab of salted butter in Bread Ahead toast with kaya spread (coconut jam made with pandan, eggs, sugar and coconut cream - with added caramel for Mei Mei's version). It is pretty amazing and you owe it to yourself to get one of these. 

There's more to the menu too. We're hearing great things about their nasi lemak on the brunch menu (coconut rice, sambal, peanuts, anchovies, cucumber and fried egg - £8.50) as well as their congee and there's also a Captain's Curry (braised nonya chicken and potato curry - £8) and the vegan Sayur Lemak Curry (braised vegetable and tofu - £8). Look out for their specials too. 

As for drinks - they've a strong coffee and tea selection with lots of use of condensed and evaporated milk - great for people with a sweet tooth like us. And wines are £8-9 for 250ml which we think is a pretty good deal. 

The next place we tried was Brindisa Kitchen Bar. Brindisa themselves are old-hands in the market with a shop and a restaurant. Their stall here has a large covered (and, crucially, heated) counter dining section right next to Mei Mei. Here, it's all about Spanish snacks and small plates, so you can grab little bites of charcuterie and cheese or opt for small dishes (some available in both full and 1/2 racion) like grilled scallops (£6), Crab & Judion bean stew (£6/10) or potted rabbit cooked over pine quince and walnuts (£6). A key attraction here is the seafood/meat dishes of the day, cooked on the grill. We opted for the following:

roomFrom Brindisa, this is the pluma with roasted piquillo peppers (£12). It's lightly grilled on the plancha (slightly pink is suggested, but you can opt for further cooking time if you like) and this resulted in a wonderfully smoky taste to the meat.

Brindisa does seem to be the best space to sit down with snacks and a glass of wine, with a one-pager wine list that focuses on Spanish wine (glasses start at £6 and bottles at £26.50) as well as sherries, beer, brandy and liqueurs. So if it's on the cold side in the market, that brandy might go down very well.  

Next on our visit was Kubba by JUMA Kitchen who we'd first encountered when they popped up in Finsbury Park a while back. Here, their menu is focused around Kubba, the traditional Iraqi dumplings or patties. They're available in either meat (rice, beef, amba, baharat and onion) or the Potato chap version (parsley, baharat, potato cake, beef mince, date and tamarind) or mushroom (parsley, baharat, potato cake, wild mushrooms, date and tamarind). All £2.90 each, they're perfect snacking food. Alas - they'd just run out as we arrived, but what we had instead was excellent:

roomFirst up - the Kubba Hamuth - lamb and beef dumplings, turnip, juma baharat, tomato broth (£7.90). This was exactly what we needed for a cold winter's day - a warming hit of tomatoey goodness. 

roomWe really can't pass up a kunefe when we see it on the menu, and Juma's Kanafa with pistachio, blossom water and rose petals (£5.90) was maybe the best we've ever had in London. 

Next up was Oroshi. They're primarily about Japanese robatayaki cooking, so come here for grilled meat or veg skewers (which we had alongside an excellent piping hot miso soup). We chose the following:

roomThe pheasant skewer from Oroshi, sat up on the counter. Skewers are £3.50 each or you can have them in a bento box for £8.50 adding rice, seaweed salad, veg, crisps, croquette and pickles. They also have gyoza and sashimi on the menu. 

And finally, we stopped for a snack at Batera Pintxos Bar. This comes from the same people behind the Mimo cookery school (also at Borough) and you can perch up at their counter for a selection of hot or warm pintxos. They also have gilda, tortilla and a hot pintxo list that included Suckling pig terrine with apple compote and garlic paprika oil as well as some traditional Basque cheesecake. Sticking with the Basque theme, you can also get Zapiain cider and Txakoli here too. Here's what we had:

roomJust the one pintxo at Batera to finish off - this was cod brandade and roasted garlic. 

That's all we could fit in on our visit - but there are more stands besides the above. They include:

  • Arabica - As well as their nearby restaurant, they also have a stand here
  • Gastronomica - serving up sandwiches and Italian produce
  • Horn Ok Please - Vegetarian Indian street food, with dosas, egg kati rolls and more on the menu. 
  • La Tua Pasta - super popular on the day we visited, this has gnocchi fritti as antipasti, a range of homemade pastas (along with kids portions) and bomboloni for dessert.
  • Tacos Padre - a range of meat and veggie tacos, quesadillas or you can opt for red guac on the side with tortilla chips
  • SHUK - Tel Aviv market food including lamb spiced meatballs, fish tagine and sabich all in a fluffy pita along with different salads.

And what about the stalls?

Because all that simply isn't enough food, there are also lots of stalls to choose from. Here's who you can find there:

  • Applebees Fish - Three key options -  garlic tiger prawns, cajun fish and mixed fish and prawns served as wraps or in a box.
  • The Bath Dairy - stock up on tartiflette here or whole baked cheese served with sourdough fingers
  • The Black Pig - with charcuterie cones and prosciutto sandwiches. 
  • Gujarati Rasoi - vegan and veggie thalis, samosas, kofta - or just grab a fresh naan. 
  • Joli - They're serving up rendang (beef and vegan) which we've heard very good things about, as well as noodle dishes and gyoza
  • Khanom Krok - with their authentic Thai street food
  • Nana Fannys - selling salt beef from a 1944 family recipe, hot latkes and vegan falafel 
  • Pochi - Japanese rice bowls with options like teriyaki tofu, deep-fried aubergine or soy ginger minced pork.
  • Rudie’s Jerk Shack - jerk chicken, curry goat, ackee & saltfish along with sides like fried sweet plantain and rice 'n' peas.
  • Scotchtails - as well as scotch eggs, they're serving up cheese and egg toasties. 

Anything else?

There's also a bottle shop by the East London Liquor Co where you can enjoy cocktails or browse the shelves with their own gins, vodka and rum as well as spirits from around the world.

Overall thoughts

Borough Market Kitchen is a huge addition to the general foodie attractions on offer at Borough Market but it's clear more people need to know about it. There's a lot to try here you can't get anywhere else in London and it's easy either to pop in for just one dish, or spend an hour or two happily grazing your way through it. There are some improvements that could be made - better signage, more loos - but all of that's pretty easily fixable. Head down now before every tourist in town works out where it is.

roomSo much to try down at Borough Market Kitchen. You're going to need several visits...

Hot Dinners ate as guests of Borough Market Kitchen. Prices are correct at the time of writing.  


More about Borough Market Kitchen

Where is it? Borough Market, 8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL

Find out moreVisit their website or follow them on Twitter @boroughmarket.


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