Summer is finally here in East London, and life is going swimmingly. It has been a real trip down memory lane exploring the areas where I lived many years ago and seeing how they have changed. One such area is Bethnal Green where I lived in the summer of 2003 on Cambridge Heath road in a small flat above a curry house. It was a horrifically hot summer that year, and the restaurant below only exasperated the situation, but I still look back on that time fondly so was thrilled to get the chance to return. I was invited to check out a food truck in a restaurant collective located under the railway arches. I love that empty spaces underneath the railway lines have become the hottest new spots to house trendy bars and restaurants and adore the idea that an area where one would often fear to tread alone as a woman is now a hotbed of social activity.
Sugoi JPN is a very creative and ingenious food truck that mixes the Mexican taco with the Japanese sushi roll. It is a hybrid of creativity which is sure to set the hipster world of East London afire. The truck is parked just opposite Mother Kelly’s, a craft beer pub, which has a rotation of 16 local ales. If beer and fusion foods were not enough to lure you in, the communal patio is also a very comely. Scores of wooden tables and streams of fairy lights festoon the sun dappled brickwork, and on a sunny afternoon it’s almost heavenly.
It being a sunny day and all, it was impossible to resist a beer. Being two girls who generally favour a cocktail over a pint we were intrigued by their more inventive infusions. The Hackney Brewery Peach & Basil Sour (£4.20) was a fruity and refreshing delight. The sour flavour of peach really came through, although I didn’t get much of the basil. But for a non beer-drinker it was an absolute pleasure to drink. If peach doesn’t tickle your fancy, you may wish to try the Orbit Beetziki (£5.50) a beetroot Berliner Weisse. It had a glorious pink hue and tasted earthy and sour, reminding me a lot of kombucha – so much so in fact that you could almost consider this a healthy drink.
After ordering our beers it was time to start thinking about the food. The menu of sushi tacos is a mix of traditional sushi toppings plus a few more inventive ones. To start we got the Senor Crab (£4.50). A rice filled tempura seaweed taco topped with Tempura fried soft shell crab, lettuce, aonori, coriander, shichimi togarashi, and spicy mayo. This was the one I was the most excited for, as I will never turn down an opportunity to eat soft shell crabs. More like a taco than a sushi roll in terms of structure, as the crispy taco shell made it a little harder to eat. However we adored the crispy battered crab which provided a nice crunch against the sweet sticky rice, and the spicy mayo added that little something extra. Along side the crab we got the Chingon (£5.50). This one came topped with fresh salmon and tuna, pico de gallo, kimchi, lettuce, chives and sesame seeds. This was by far our favourite as it was so fresh, with lots of spice coming from the pico and kimchi sauces. It was the most natural pairing of the ones we tried, and a very successful marrying of two cultures.
We fancied trying some of the naughtier options, so ordered the Katsu (£6.75). The battered seaweed shell was topped with rice, crispy breaded pork, avocado, and tonkatsu sauce. I was really excited about this one, as it is my favourite Kimbab roll (Korean style sushi rolls) filling. However it missed the mark somehow. The pieces of pork were a little on the large side and very crispy making it hard to get a bite of all the ingredients in one go. If it had been easier to eat I’m sure it would have been great. Lastly we tried The Chapulin (£5.50) which was topped with chicken teriyaki, mixed veggies and sour cream. Again the abundance of toppings made it a little hard to eat, and the teriyaki chicken got a little bit lost. However this one really benefited from the accompanying soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger which really picked it up a little and gave more of the Japanese flavour profile.
The sushi tacos are not the only items on the menu, there are also a couples of sides. After much debate we ordered the Yuca Fries (£4.00). They made an interesting change from traditional fries, as they had a much firmer texture and slightly sweeter taste. They were doused is a very spicy and salt seasoning, so you’ll certainly want another beer to wash these down with. We got the Northern Brewing Pale Ale (£5.40) , and the Three Hills Double IPA (£5.80). I’m not usually a big IPA fan and the thought of a double IPA scared me senseless, however the smaller sizes made them slightly less lethal and they both ended up being much lighter and fruitier than I imagined.
Overall we thought the food truck to be a really unique and quite special. Although slightly difficult to eat the sushi tacos are very tasty, and the perfect food to eat while sinking a few beers at Mother Kelly’s. The patio is also the perfect spot to hang out and soak up some summer vibes. If you are heading to East London then it is well worth a trip if you are looking for something a little bit different.
Sugoi JPN is located at 251 Paradise Row, Bethnal Green, London E2 9LE. The nearest tube station is Bethnal Green. For more information you can call Sugoi JPN on 07490604562 or check out their website. The truck is open from Thursday & Friday 4.00pm -10:30pm and Saturday & Sunday 12pm – 10pm.