Restaurant Review: Kuku Riku, Camden Market
PUBLISHED: 15:23 31 January 2019 | UPDATED: 13:41 01 February 2019
Alicia Clarke @aliciaclarkephoto
Serving succulent rotisserie chicken from a Josper grill the market's latest food adventure offers a warm hug on a cold day
On a cold and blustery day, we picked our way across Camden Market’s cobblestones to be embraced by the warm hug of its latest food adventure.
Sat beneath brick vaulting, next to recognisable traces of former stalls, you could almost smell the long departed inhabitants of these former stables. But today was not about horses, but chickens.
Kuku Riku - or cock-a-doodle-do as they say in Hungary and the Balkans - boasts the UK’s first charcoal Josper rotisserie and has devoted it’s offer to that staple dish, which cuts across most food cultures, the humble roast chicken.
Don’t expect an extensive list of starters or desserts. A hearty soup of the day or soy and honey chicken wings and a slice of cheesecake or slightly soggy apple pie are about the size of it. It’s all about that juicy roasted bird, 24 hour marinaded in a secret brine recipe and sold by the quarter (£8), half (£12) or baby. (£11)
For us the main act was almost upstaged by the veggie supporting cast. Cauli with roast lemon cumin and capers; carrots with honey and carraway, a plump roast onion with balsamic and thyme; an unctuous potato gratin with sage; a mac’n’ cheese with three ‘ count ‘em’ cheeses, and a nutty winter slaw.
Our highlight was a squash with parmesan and a garlicky salsa verde; singed with smokey char from the Josper flames - a simple delight.
I say almost because the bird itself is every bit as succulent as you’d hope. For an extra £1.50 there are sauces like truffle chipotle, or roast garlic. The tarragon jus was a fine complement to the free range bird.
A keen burgerist, my partner ordered the crisped buttermilk-chicken breast which was moist and tender, sandwiched between a brioche bun and garlic mayo, washed down with a cold pint of 1974 lager.
Afterwards we went for a stroll around the market, which may have tidied up its act from its 80s heyday, but remains a bustling kaleidoscope of street food, fashion and frippery, wafted by the pungent smell of jos sticks.
Alongside the vegan stalls, Cereal Killer cafe and Amy Winehouse statue, you can still buy a tweed cap, a vintage t-shirt and a pair of Doc Martens. Headed by the ex chef at Harrods, the folk at Kuku Riku also run Camden Pizza, a coffee stall and an event space in the former Gilgamesh restaurant here. And with plans for a burger joint selling patties minced on site, you can only applaud the ingenuity of reinventing this old industrial space for a new generation.
Kuku Riku, North Yard, Camden Market, 11.30-8pm. camdenmarket.com