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June 21st - London, United Kingdom

A Compass of Cheap Eats in London

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I am an eight-inch travel writer based in London. It's not always easy being a tiny traveller but it's seldom dull. This is a place for me to share my weird and wonderful travel stories with the rest of the world.

Lost in a concrete jungle of fast food chains, expensive gourmet restaurants and mediocre establishments? Let this compass of cheap eats in London direct you somewhere special.

Never get lost looking for good food again. Let this compass of cheap eats in London guide you to top restaurants in all four corners of the city. Featuring a Turkish charcoal feast in Harringay, an exotic Sri Lankan curry house in Tooting, a BYOB Vietnamese in Shoreditch and a gem of a bookshop in Notting Hill.

North – Gokyuzu, Green Lanes, Turkish

The sweet aroma of shisha, an incomprehensible variety of olives, baskets of warm pastel coloured spices, women in shop windows rolling fresh pida dough and the juiciest looking doner kebabs this side of Istanbul: Harringay Green Lanes does a great impression of Turkey. And unsurprisingly it also plays host to some of the capital’s tastiest and most authentic Turkish restaurants.

Gokyuzu offers a full platter of gorgeous starters and pretty much all of the meat on the menu for £36. They suggest sharing the plate between 2-3 but you could easily let twice that many get stuck into the mountain of marinated meat. Especially considering it’s easily possible to fill up on fluffy baked bread and dip before the main course has even arrived.

Expect lemony salads, smoky meat and lots of garlic, lots and lots of lovely garlic.

£7 a head if you divide a platter by 5.

26-27 Green Lanes, N4 1LG

South – Jaffna House, Tooting, South Indian/Sri Lankan

Although not as iconic as Brick Lane, Tooting is the discerning curry consumer’s destination of choice in London.

The high street is full of halal butchers, fresh veg stalls, jewellers and curry houses. And we’re not talking your typical Chicken Tikka Masala and toilet-fuel Vindaloo joints, the curries in Tooting are different. Each restaurant has a distinct style of cuisine peculiar to the region its chefs hail from.
Jaffna House specialises in Sri Lankan and Southern Indian cuisine, which means unbelievably cheap and exotic sounding dishes such as: String Hoppers, Pittu and Iddly.

String Hoppers are essentially a form of rice noodles, Pittu looks like a savoury jam roll and Iddly is a type of white rice cake that looks like a UFO. And for the trivial sum of £2.75 you can get either of these Sri Lankan specialties along with a bag full of four different vegetable curries.

It’s the kind of place that threatens to make kitchens surplus to requirement. Just think what you could do with an extra room in your flat. Music room? Walk-in wardrobe? Ping Pong arena?

£2.75 for a five-course takeaway bag.

90 Tooting High Street, SW17 0RN

East – Anh Dáo, Kingsland Road, Vietnamese

Anh Dào is less famous than some of the other Vietnamese restaurants on the strip of Kingsland Road affectionately known as ‘Pho Mile’. However, in my opinion, it is one of the best.

Tables styled like woven rice baskets and a ceiling of bamboo shoots interspersed with green leaves and pink flowers help to create a relaxed atmosphere that is perfect for tucking into enticingly fragrant starters, and exquisite mains such as herb-encrusted whole sea bass and gloriously rich and succulent sizzling cognac beef.

The restaurant is fully licensed but they still allow you to bring your own booze if you prefer, which is great for saving a little bit of extra cash.

£9-12 for two courses.

106-108 Kingsland Road, E2 8DP

West – Books for Cooks, Portobello Road, Everything

Books for Cooks is unbelievably good. As well as being an incredibly well stocked cookery bookshop, it is also one of London’s best lunches.

At just £5 a head those lucky enough to get a seat – lunch is served from midday and queues begin at around 11:45AM – are treated to a different two-course meal each day of the week. The recipes are taken from books in the store and the best dishes are published each year in an annual guide.

Considering the quality of the food, usually a zingy seasonal salad and a high-end meaty main, it’s easy to see why the regulars quip that the £5 price tag is practically equal to “giving it away”. Books for Cooks really is a London gem, a treasured venue devoted to the love of food.

£5 for two courses. £7 with pudding.

4 Blenheim Crescent, W11 1NN

So which will it be: Turkish, Sri Lankan, Vietnamese or a bookshop? You can’t go wrong with this compass of cheap eats in London.

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