Lee Richardson, BA South Asian Studies
Options for satisfying the basic urge to continue life through the consumption of food are many and varied in London. The task of watering down such a plethora of choice for a brief guide like this is a challenge, and therefore, not all options and tastes can be accommodated. The list given represents what I, as a food consuming, sentient SOAS-going human, deem the most interesting, quirky, and satisfying options available.
Indian Veg – Chapel Market, Angel, Islington
Many humans eschew the eating of the dead flesh of murdered animals for sustenance. Indian Veg in Chapel Market firmly caters to this demographic. Located within walking distance of Dinwiddy and Paul Robeson houses, this lively, affordable, and unpretentious restaurant serves a buffet meal; all you can eat style, for under £6. The owners are extremely friendly and it is enjoyable to read the dubious although well-intentioned pro-vegetarian propaganda that adorns the walls. As an affordable way of consuming ridiculous amounts of healthy, well prepared food, Indian Veg is hard to beat.
Five-Guys Burger – 1-3 Long Acre, London, WC2E 9LH
For those who do enjoy a dose of Vitamin M, there are many options in London. Hard to beat for decadence, overall taste and cult fame is Five-Guys Burger, just outside of the cultural wasteland known as Leicester Square. Admittedly, an unusual choice for a SOAS student, and maybe something that many may seem reluctant to try, but try you should. People queue for the food from this place. Outside. In the cold, smelly West London streets. This place has a cult following for a reason. They have managed to create high calorie monstrosities that taste like the sound of children’s laughter or like the feeling of climbing into a warm bed on a cold night. High hangover compatibility.
Daddy Donkey, Kick-Ass Mexican Grill – 50b, Leather Lane, London EC1 7TP
London has a somewhat mixed reputation for street food. Ranging from the delights of Organic food markets that should have smug overdose warnings to a low point in the barely edible, germ riddled cardboard pizza of the West-end’s tourist traps. Straddling the divide between pretense and convenience is Daddy Donkey, a quirkily named and surprisingly tasty outdoor feeding option. It passes the SOAS test of having young people with beards working there, whilst also being quite affordable.
Sheba – 136, Brick Lane
As a new arrival to SOAS and probably also this beautiful city of ours, it is likely that you will at some point find yourself in East London. Once the shock of realising that Cockneys don’t actually exist fades, you could do worse than treating yourself to a well-deserved meal in the surrounding area. Brick Lane is a very interesting place. Home to many of London’s Bengali speaking community (note the street signs, extra points if you say loudly ‘they teach that at my uni’), this is considered by many to be one of the best places to find a decent curry. The wealth of options however disguises the fact that quality here varies. Top of the list, for no other fact than I like it, is Sheba. The food here is affordable, tasty and Halal.
Hare Krishna – Russell Square
If all this exchanging of money for goods and services is getting you down then fear not. In the unlikely event that nobody has told you yet, there is a free option. Usually available from 12:00-12:30 in the afternoon, the friendly Hare Krishna man doles out food to all comers, no questions asked. The high carbohydrate content and usual appearance of cake makes this choice another hangover compatible option. The large element of human kindness also gives this option an edge the others in the article lack. Please remember this service is (I assume) a privilege and not a right. Complaining about something that is essentially a gift is not cool or acceptable.