Entering the Happy Dumpling in Brixton market we had no idea what to expect, other than it seemed to be a popular place. But in Brixton Village, this is not unusual. Brixton Village is ruthless – good food or else.
Until recently no-one would have believed that London has the best food in Europe and among the best in the world. For decades tourists had a dreadful opinion of English food; unfortunately also a deserved one, since for over 50 years restaurant food in this country was terrible. But that’s in the past. By the beginning of 90’s the fashion for good food had arrived and within a decade completely changed the culinary habits of Brits. Influences from all over the globe became our everyday dishes and a passion for great food utterly overtook England.
Now, if I were to ask a Londoner where to find the best food in town, most would mention Soho, Clapham, Shoreditch, Dalston, Camden Town or my favourite of all, Brixton. Yes, it is surprising, isn’t it? Ten years ago no-one would have thought that half of the city would be happy to travel to Brixton for dinner.
I love Brixton, I always have, even when it was notorious rather than famous and Brixton Village wasn’t even open yet. For me Brixton market has always been a place of wonder: the colours, the noise, exotic smells and tastes, drew me in from the beginning. As a foreigner from the former Eastern bloc I was overwhelmed by a choice and abundance of fare I had never even heard of. The variety and quality of produce from all over the world was worth a journey. Brixton has one of the best oriental supermarkets in south London, great fishmongers, fruit and veg from every corner of the Commonwealth and further, a great Italian deli (best beef tomatoes in town), butchers selling unusual meat cuts and crazy culinary equipment you may need to cook your finds. All of that and more is Brixton market.
For the last couple of years since the opening of Brixton Village, we have been going there to eat as well as shop. Brixton Village is full of pop up restaurants and bars. The food is amazing! Dozens of tiny eateries serve authentic food from all over the world. You can get great Beijing street food at Mama Lan or dim sum at Happy Dumpling and if you fancy a big chunk of meat you can pop into Brazilian or Colombian joints for juicy meats and beans. Franco Manca does a superb stone oven pizza. Anyone with sweet tooth will be in heaven Kokoo, house of great handmade chocolates. Most places will have only few things on the menu but all dishes are really well made, authentic and easily affordable. Unfortunately no-one takes bookings and the food is famous, so if you are planning to eat there be prepared for queuing.
We waited a bit for our food at Happy Dumpling. Not too long but long enough to stir up an appetite. Hungry, we ordered too much food but each and every dish was delicious. I tried to eat my dim sum as fast as I could before my stomach realised it is full, but didn’t manage to eat it all.
A truly wonderful place for any foodie.