Brick Lane is notorious for superlative Indian cuisine. However, all is not quite as it seems. Head a little further up this famous East London street on a Sunday and you will find a street market in full swing. This is Brick Lane Sunday Market.
Our previous encounters on Brick Lane involve a stay at The Hub Hotel and dinner at Dosa World, a cracking taste of Southern Indian cuisine and highly recommended. This time around, we were in London heading for dinner at Boxpark, Shoreditch.
To get to Boxpark, you have a choice of either Liverpool Street or Aldgate East tube stations. If you pick the Aldgate East route this will take you on a walk through Brick Lane to get to Boxpark. To the Aldgate end of Brick Lane is where you will find the famed curry houses and Indian sweet shops.
We headed past Hanbury Street and immediately we were confronted by a mass of stalls selling all sorts of street food. An indoor market area is like a hall for vendors to sell their various cuisines. The smells and sights were very good indeed but the store vendors did seem a bit ‘pushy’ in getting people to try their food.
As we walked up the lane, the surprises kept on coming. Narrow side streets are packed with small stands selling such things as Chinese dumplings, German sausages and barbecued meats.
There is a long time vendor by the name of Mark Gevaux AKA ‘The Rib Man’. Mark, a former butcher, lost his leg and therefore could no longer work in the trade. He began selling rib sandwiches across markets in London and gained incredible popularity. Sadly for us arriving in the evening, he sells out early.
After another round of superb Korean Wings at Coqfighter, we headed out of Boxpark and back down Brick Lane. One shop here is famous across Instagram for their unique take on hot chocolate – a place called Dark Sugars Cocoa House.
This place is part cafe and part shop. Artisan handmade chocolates are available to purchase along with huge blocks of chocolate – the very chocolate that’s shaved over your hot chocolate. This is the magic of Dark Sugars.
The ordering system here is a little odd. You go to a counter in the shop area to buy your hot chocolate, yet the menu board for the hot chocolates is in the other part. The staff are friendly enough but the queueing system leaves a lot to be desired. People would just come up to the side of the counter to purchase chocolate products and get served before others who are waiting to order hot chocolate.
When we did order our hot chocolate (a Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate at £5.50) we took our ticket to the counter where the staff were busy filling up cups and shaving blocks of chocolate with razor sharp knives. Some brief confusion reigned before giving us the correct drink.
The look is definitely impressive, but how about the taste? Well, we were disappointed. The chocolate shavings on the top are nice but don’t really add much of a flavour. The actual hot chocolate was poor and contained lumps of powder. They also topped it up with lukewarm milk that had been sitting out on the counter. It may look good but it’s poor product for the price.
So Dark Sugars failed to live up to the social media hype but the market, by comparison, was a revelation. There’s a huge amount of choice down Brick Lane on a Sunday – even a designated hall for vegan street food. The sights, smells and quality of the products sold is excellent. If you’re stuck for budget dining options on a Sunday, look no further.
Opening Times: Sunday 1000-1700
Nearest Tube Station: Aldgate East