A week or so ago as I was flicking through a copy of the Nottingham Post I saw an article by Lynette Pinchess about a new pop-up street food café in the Oriental Mart on Heathcote Street. This sounded awesome, I have been shopping at the oriental Mart for ages so this means I can get my Chinese groceries and get street food as well?
I was like ‘eyes wide open’ and ‘myfoodhunt radar engaged’ and I knew I had to come and find out some more and try this place out! Today was that day!
Chalkboard Action at the Oriental Mart
I totally love a good bit of Chalkboard action especially ones that start with the words “Japanese Style Street Food”. There are actually three chalkboards outside, and even though I could have eaten everything, I knew that I couldn’t, so I made a plan to just pick a couple of things to try in the full contented knowledge that I can come back again to try the other stuff.
I am a massive fan of the Bao so figured that the best thing to try would be some of the combinations that they were offering in the steamed ‘hirata bun’.
They seemed pretty great value at just £2.95 each! I picked two, one with chicken and one with belly pork, and popped outside to wait, contemplate, and to salivate.
Hirata bun with Crispy Chicken (Karage
The first little delight that came out to my table was the bun filled with Crispy Chicken (Karage), cucumber and Japanese mayo. I really liked this combination, the mayo is rich and creamy, the coating on that karage chicken is light and crispy, the toppings of cucumber and spring onion add a crunch and a lightness to the sandwich. There is a sprinkling of black and white sesame seeds which add a toastiness and a scattering of some sort of spicy dust which brings the whole thing to life.
Hirata bun with Belly Pork (Char Su)
The next delight to alight on my table was the bun filled with the belly pork (Char su). This was quite a different experience, the honey soy dressing adds a nice rich meaty sweetness and the kimchi adds that crunch and spice. Another scattering of that spicy dust and some generous spoonful of chopped scallions make it even better with crunch and heat.
More Chalkboard Options at the Oriental Mart
I know that I just picked a couple of little snacks on this my first visit to the pop-up café in the Oriental Mart but I have plans to try some more.
One dish on my radar is the Arabiki – which is ‘japanese smoked sausage with mustard mayo’, that sounds pretty good as does the Curry Udon! Actually if I am honest? It all sounds good!
So who is the man behind this food?
What I learnt from reading Lynette’s article was that the guy serving up this food is Yan Liu, the son of the owners of the old Hanson Supermarket down near the Bus Station at the Broadmarsh station. I used to shop down there and eat at the restaurant upstairs by the bus station all the time, and then it was my favourite Asian shop in Nottingham. It is still quite sad to see that whole area has not been developed and the Hanson signs are still on the building. It was a really great place to go to and when I returned from working at the Chinese Institute in Wuhan back in the 90’s I always went there to get my food memories.
Now though there are many more memories to be had closer to home and I look forward to sampling a few more from Yan on my next visit to this Street Food pop up.