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Cheap eats of the week: Lemlem Kitchen

By
Laura Richards
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Hungry but strapped for cash? We've got you covered with our cheap eats of the week.

Not more street food...

'Fraid so. But gems from the African continent still feel overlooked in London, and the warm and subtle spices of Eritrea get a shake-up at Lemlem Kitchen in Netil Market. It's only open on weekends, every Saturday and some Sundays.

So, it's authentic African street food?

Not exactly. Lemlem riffs on the already popularised staples of tacos, wings and fries. Soft-shell tortillas form a base for 'afro-tacos,' with a spongy injera flatbread layered on top.

Inje-what?

It's a traditional bread made in a similar way to sourdough, creating a porous pancake ideal for vertical grazing - it soaks up all those juicy toppings perfectly. You can mix and match tacos (two for £6), with pulled lamb or a split pea version for veggies. Best of the bunch is the anise chicken - full of delicate, sweet spices and dressed with a sharp fennel 'slaw.

Anything on the side?

'Amaze wings' successfully raise the heat, coated in hot sauce and served with a fiery stuffed chilli (a feta dip on the side prevents mouth-meltdown). A portion of shiro fries - chips topped with Eritrean chickpea stew and zingy tomato salsa - comes strongly recommended. Indeed, other market staff stop by on the regular for a portion; they're that good.

Sounds tasty. But is it too cool for school?

The dècor is cool, but the service is warm. Lemlem is housed in a stucco shack and is bristling with energy and east London edge. A lick of yellow paint and Sun Ra beats on the stereo maintain the sunny vibes, and the greatest warmth comes from owner Makda Harlow, very much the heart of the kitchen. She serves complimentary cups of spiced tea and conversation to anyone waiting for a taste of her thoroughly original food.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Enticing Eritrean fare in Netil Market.

Lemlem Kitchen is at Netil Market, 23 Westgate St, E8 3RL. London Fields Overground. Meal for two with drinks and service: £35

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