There’s no denying that the street food revolution is making its way into cities that don’t have such a rich history of street snacks. Urban Food Fest embodies the spirit of the revolution, quickly establishing itself as the place in London to eat on the street. The rules of Urban Food Fest are simple. Bring friends, lots of them. Bring cash. Bring a healthy appetite and a desire to try something new. Wander through the heaving crowds of people, circling your way past the stalls and eyeing the menus as you do so. Buy as much as you can. Be adventurous. If you haven’t heard of Jhal Muri before then all the more reason to buy it – you won’t regret it. Find a spot on one of the tables, or sit on the kerb, or stand amongst the crowd and dig in to your purchases. Share with your friends. Compare notes. Discuss buying one more hotdog, one more pizza, one more drink. Do it, and be overwhelmed with that deliciously sickly satisfying feeling when you’ve eaten too much good food and you feel oddly, nauseatingly wonderful.
The stalls at Urban Food Fest are constantly changing. Veggie-friendly options have included the startlingly delicious Jhal Muri, the doughy jalapeno and mushroom pizza without cheese, and the revelation that is the vegi hotdogs. There is always something here for everyone, whether you want to go a little crazy and try something new or you want to stick to the trusty old burgers and fries. I’m here for one reason and one reason only: vegan hotdogs. I’m determined: I make a beeline straight for the yellow stall, my wallet already out of my pocket. I’ve already looked at the vegi hotdog menu and decided what I’ll order, but I check with the servers just in case. I hand over my money eagerly. Biting into new foods is always exciting. The first bite of my hot dog does not disappoint: the bread is doughy, the sausage is yummy and the sauce is tangy. I bite into my friend’s chili dog and almost have order envy – that chilli is tasty! The best thing about these hotdogs is that they’re not lacking in toppings, with the chilli dripping into the bread. I can see why they’re served with a fork. They also feel surprisingly healthy, free from the all of the fat associated with their regular meaty predecessors.
We take the time to explore the other stalls once our hotdogs are finished. It seems that the stalls change regularly but there are always veggie options, ranging from mushroom burgers to sweet potato maki to aloo tikki chaat wraps.
In need of dessert, we make our way to the Churros stall and order churros to share – while the dipping chocolate isn’t vegan, the churros themselves are. With all the oil and sugar, these definitely don’t feel healthy, but they’re yummy nevertheless. One £4 pot is more than enough to share between two, especially after hotdogs. Full, we leave the festival after one last glance at vegi hotdog stall and a promise to each other that we’ll return to try the other flavours.