June 29, 2022

Three top London chefs on their favourite cheap eats in the city

In this week’s Time Out magazine we’re unleashing a new, revamped list of the best cheap eats in London. It features more than 50 delicious dishes, on sale in every corner of the city, that’ll set you back no more than a tenner. As part of it, we got some of London’s most-hyped chefs to contribute – revealing the restaurants they return to again and again, whenever they’re after an affordable bite to eat. Want to read the full list? Pick up a Time Out this Tuesday or read the issue online here. For now though, sit back and discover three cheap places to eat in London that the experts love. 

1. Santiago Lastra from Kol on why he loves Jen Café

Photograph: Andy Parsons

All right, Santiago, why’s Jen Café the place for you?

‘The authenticity. You can tell that it’s a family-run business and that people have a lot of experience. You can see the ladies making fresh dumplings in the window, that’s a good sign.’

What’s the vibe?

‘It’s busy, but just enough to make you feel like home and not overcrowded – it has a simple interior but the hospitality you experience there transports you to another place. The owners are lovely, super-quick and have a good sense of humour. They have respect for quality ingredients and a good, fair price.’

Enough of the niceties, what do you usually order?

‘The vegetable dumplings (£5) and the fried pork dumplings (£6) – they are amazing.’ 4-8 Newport Pl, WC2H 7JP.

2. Attawa’s Gopal Krishnan is hooked on Roti King

Photograph: Andy Parsons

Go on, Gopal, what made you fall for Roti King?

‘Roti King is a Malaysian restaurant. A lot of the dishes remind me of home, as there is a large Indian community which has influenced Malaysian cuisine over the years. It’s not glamorous like some restaurants – it is all about the food!’

What’s your order?

‘I am a vegetarian and I tend to always order the same roti canai dish served with dhal. Roti canai is this delicious buttery flatbread similar to an Indian paratha, the main difference is how it is stretched and rolled, giving it multiple crispy layers when cooked. This dish costs £6 and you get two rotis and a generous serving of dhal.’

Any other highlights?

‘The cheese-filled roti (£4) and the dessert roti kaya (£4), which is filled with coconut. It’s sweet and sticky.’ 40 Doric Way, NW1 1LH.

3. Tasty African delivers nostalgia for Chishuru’s Adejoké Bakare

Photograph: Ben Rowe

Clue us up, Adejoké, why’s this fast-food chain a fave of yours?

‘I love their meat pies. They’re like cornish pasties: braised beef mince in spices, carrots, potatoes and gravy. They’re £1.50 but really well executed and delicious. They just take me back home to Nigeria.’

Why’s that?

‘The pastry is really close to that of an iconic Nigerian fast-food chain called Mr Bigg’s, which is our version of McDonald’s. So eating it is like having Big Mac when you haven’t had one in a while. The fact that they’re able to achieve that same crust is wonderful.’

What kind of pastry are we talking?

‘A cross between shortcrust and puff. It’s got everything you want from biting into a pie.’

Anything else we should order?

‘I love their puff puffs. They’re deep-fried sweet dough balls: £1 for four. Such a bargain.’ Multiple locations.

Find more eating out inspiration in our guide to London’s best restaurants. 

Top London chefs reveal their three-ingredient recipes. 

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