On the last friday of every month, a street food extravaganza hits Leicester’s Morningside Arena. The arena is home to events and the local basketball team, The Leicester Riders. The sport may be a big draw but the street food is rapidly gaining in popularity. Recently, Canteen UK (the company behind the event) have launched a pop-up in the new market square.
Entry to the pop-up is £1, in similar style to Digbeth Dining Club in Birmingham. In fact many of the vendors have had or are currently in residence at Digbeth with an ever changing line up. We followed the beats of the resident DJ and found the small site tucked away behind the market hall.
The market is a collection of around 9 stalls. The stalls vary between beer, cocktails and food from around the world. An instant eye catcher was a stall named ‘Press de Cuba’ specialising in those famous sandwiches from the movie ‘Chef’ – The Cubano.
It wasn’t quite Chef Carl Casper knocking these bad boys out of the panini press but they really were an awesome tribute. The thin, crispy sandwich compacting mojo pork, mustard, pickles and cheese is a classic and so deliciously rich and crunchy. For £7 it’s great value.
The perfect partner to a Cubano is an ice cold beer. The stall directly across from Press de Cuba was selling bottles of Chang beer for £3.50 – these were superb, a very underrated beer.
If The Cubano was anything to go by, our next dish of Korean chicken thighs glazed in gochujang sauce served on asian slaw was looking like another contender for best dish. This was from a stall named Jade Rabbit specialising in Korean dishes, bao’s and a good selection of vegan dishes.
A deep fried chicken thigh slathered in sweet,spicy gochujang is something that instantly gets the mouth watering. The execution on this dish was nothing short of brilliant. Everything was perfect. Juicy chicken, possibly brined, crunchy batter and a fresh slaw with that addictive sauce. Absolutely perfect. At £7 a go, easily the best main course option of the lot.
After the highs of Korean bliss, we checked out some of the other options. Some very good dishes were coming out of the stalls such as currywurst, chicken and waffles plus Brazilian barbecue. The atmosphere in the place was chilled out and friendly with everyone having a great time.
With only a little room left, our thoughts turned to dessert. The Urban Cheesecake was the best decision that we had ever made in Digbeth so it’d be plain rude not to go in for another slice. Here you design your own slice. From the options presented, we chose a combo of crunchie and salted caramel sauce.
£5 transports you straight to heaven when you dig into a slice of this. The cheesecake is so creamy and rich, no hint of grainy,overbaked filling in this slice – just pure luxury. The topping combination was also a winner, almost as good as our Reese’s butter cup version in Birmingham.
I really hope that this pop up becomes a permanent fixture in the city centre. A regular social gathering with great food in the very heart of Leicester can only be a good thing. The food exceeded any prior expectation and the whole event was a complete success. I really hope that this is the start of something exciting.