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Now offering much more than trendy, Old Street Roundabout or Silicon Roundabout to call it by its media name seems to be the buzz word for the ambitious tech savvy entrepreneurs. This hub of startups is fast becoming the energetic centre of businesses in East London and with it of course brings more footfall at lunchtime seeking sustenance and thankfully a new crop of independent eateries. The aforementioned Whitecross Street Market the location of nearly every lunchtime jaunt, the variety and competition there a real haven for those who like something more than the overpriced, mass produced chains.
Away from there though last Fridays choice was my second visit to Yum Bun’s new home on Featherblade St tapped onto the end of The Rotary Bar and Diner. Blink and you’ll miss it as this new outlet is as dainty as the soft pillowy buns they are famous for.
Reading online reviews tells me they started in 2010 just up the road at Broadway Market and gained a fierce reputation winning plaudits from the public and Michelin starred chefs alike Viajante’s Nuno Mendes describes them as ‘show stopping’. . I thought only I used OTT adjectives to describe lunch to jazz up this blog? Reassuring.
I’ve been keeping tabs on Yum Bun for some time as an old school friend had something to do with setting it up so was delighted to see their sign appear near my office a month or so ago. The concept is simple. A choice of filled steamed rice buns served with Asian salad and crispy dumplings with a cup of warm miso soup. Cost £7.50. The vegetarian option inevitably consists of a Portobello mushroom but we’re not here for that. It’s chicken, belly pork or beef.
I tried the pork on my first visit and as delicious as it was, I rather feel the beef stole the show so I order chicken. The Blythburgh pork offering however is what they made their reputation on and with sliced cucumber offering a fresh counter to the richness of the pork it’s easy to see why. A sticky char siu glaze on soft melt in the mouth belly pork.
The beef however is simply divine. Slow braised ox cheeks as good as I’ve eaten at Galvin La Chappele which I still dream of. The depth of flavour as notable as the melt in your mouth texture again with the bun playing second fiddle and offering the perfect vessel in which to serve hot, smoky, melt in the mouth morsels of slow braise cow.
If Heston Blumenthal was tasked with reinventing the McChicken sandwich, the chicken yum bun wouldn’t be far off his fait accompli. A tartar style sauce is used instead of mayo which gives it a slightly vinegary complexion; the tang of capers cutting through the subtlety seasoned fried chicken. The lightness of the buns allowing the crunch of chicken to be the main, enjoyable sensation. These are simple yet delicious mouthful of food I hope to, as long as they trade nearby to enjoy for a long time to come.

My second visit a week or so later reveals like all hidden gems, word has spread like wildfire and the queue is not out the door but snakes into The Rotary Bar & Diner which is where I opt for this lunchtime. Further reading tells me it’s a joint collaboration which given rental prices is sensible. The Rotary is another ever tiring slice of vintage Americana. Comfort eating with the tried and tested décor of everywhere else although with soft furnishings that doff their hat at this seasons Mad Men perhaps- at least a little more cosy. Given this particular pop up closes in December being on trend is essential so I’m not knocking it at all as it’s befitting of the canteen style food but I just feel it’s become to cliché. However this is a descent space and one I can imagine is fun for after work drinks and an early supper.
I can almost order without looking at the menu and sadly as good as my fried chicken bun is with fried breast smothered in a hot tangy sauce, creamy coleslaw and a brioche bun, it’s nothing stand out and for beef dripping chips refer to The Buckowski Grill. The menu lists head and trotter beans and belly ribs listed as coming soon? When? I’m sure asking one of the busy waiting staff would reveal all.. just disappointing as their presence would place them in the above average category but not so here. Still, The Rotary still seems to attract people in and it’s far better than the hugely limited Red Dog Saloon. The TGI Friday version of this genre. I am however delighted to discover they have The Ribmans Holy Fuck chilli sauce which is nothing short of heavenly for any chilli fiend. My tongue still tingling as I type I’ll be ordering some online when I post this.

Yum Bun 9/10 Rotary 6/10

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