Street Food Festival

Takoyaki

It’s Bank Holiday weekend – and down on the South Bank there’s a street food festival which includes takoyaki from Japanese street food specialists Yumi. I went along on Friday to try it out and see how it measured up to the takoyaki you get in Japan.

Tako is octopus and yaki means grilled or fried. Takoyaki is a speciality of Osaka where pieces of octopus are dipped in batter and grilled in special pans with small indentations so they come out as little balls you can pop in your mouth (but watch out, they’re hot!).

Takoyaki

At the Yumi stall they were serving what they called ‘samurai balls’ – a choice of octopus, cheese or prawn ‘takoyaki’ – plus gyoza, which are Japanese dumplings.

Yumi takoyaki

I tried all three kinds of samurai balls. My verdict? Not as good as you get in Osaka (well, you wouldn’t expect them to be) and prawn and cheese are not strictly takoyaki, but the seaweed and shaved bonito give them an authentic flavour of Japan. If you’ve never tried them, a stroll down the South Bank this afternoon could be your chance.

Yumi menu

If you fancy a drink to wash down your takoyaki there’s a variety of stalls, including a craft beer stall and Fever Tree’s Ultimate Gin and Tonic bar.

Gin and Tonic Bar

And for something sweet to follow, the Arabica Food & Spice Company next door to Yumi serves Levantine pastries from the Eastern Mediterranean, using recipes from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Israel.

Levantine pastries

I had a stroll round some of the other stalls and was attracted by the huge bubbling pans of paella on the Jamon Jamon stall. Each pan was a metre in diameter – a truly impressive sight.

Paella

Further on, the Polish Deli offered a range of traditional cured sausages, including ostrich (didn’t know that was a Polish tradition).

Polish sausages

The sausages on the grill looked delicious.

Polish sausages

I was also attracted by the savoury strudel at Karantania (Karantania was apparently an ancient state in Central Europe, roughly where Slovenia and Austria are now).

Savoury Strudel

The Real Street Food Festival is at Queen’s Walk, which is the bit of the South Bank just next to Hungerford Bridge. It’s open from 12-8pm today (Sunday 25th) and from 12 to 6 pm on Bank Holiday Monday. If you miss it, there’s a winter festival planned for 1-3 November.

Street Food Festival

16 thoughts on “Street Food Festival

  1. Thanks for sharing these delicious-looking pictures. Wish I could fit in a trip to the South Bank tomorrow! Is there anywhere in London where you can get more authentic takoyaki or were these the next best you’ve tried outside Japan?

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  2. Shucks! I was at the Royal Festival Hall on both Saturday and Sunday and had lunch at the market both days, but didn’t see the Yumi stall. Tried some chaat from the Indian street food stall, but it was a little dry and lacked sourness and heat. The savoury strudel are certainly filling! 🙂

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  3. GREAT timing!! Just got back from Osaka and am having some serious octopus ball withdrawal :p it was the one thing every said we had to try – my mouth is watering just looking at your pictures!

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  4. Wow! So sad I’m missing this. I love street food festivals! BTW, if you have a chance to look at Martha Stewart magazine this month, you can check out her stunning collection of Japanese knives and cookware. Apparently she’s got at least one of everything from this famous store — it helps to be a billionaire! I covet some of the hammered copperware.

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  5. It is lunch time here now… and you made me very hungry! Glad to see you are enjoying the weather and the bank holiday, I miss strolling on the Thames!

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