I explored the heart of Netil Market to speak with a creative duo addicted to the combination of modern and traditional African street food! Makda and Jack (AKA LemLem Kitchen) are open Fridays and Saturdays for tantalisingly tasty food. It’s time to find out all about them.

How did LemLem come about?

We are an Eritrean (Makda) – English (Jack) couple and have been at Netil Market for two and half years. The idea came about as we wanted to bring all the flavours of Eritrean food to a modern setting. As there is no street food in Eritrea we came up with a kind of fusion of recognisable dishes using traditional ingredients; our signature dishes like Afro-tacos, Awaze Wings and Kulu’wa Steak Fries. We designed our shack at the market based one of Eritrea’s modernist buildings as a nod to what we are trying to do with our food.

Being an independent business is exciting – why is it that supporting local business is important?

Supporting local business builds community and a relationship with local people. Most of our customers are regulars and we’ve made some great friends, which is special in a big city like London where meeting new people and feeling part of a community is not always easy. For us, it is great to feel your money is going to a small business rather than shareholders of a major chain.

What attracted you to EAST LDN?

It’s always been one of our favourite places, particularly around London Fields. There is a multicultural side to things, and many artists, it’s full of vibrant and creative people – of all kinds. You can’t help but feel inspired by all the creativity around you. As there are fewer big brand businesses you are part of an area where something is happening that you can be part of directly.

What local businesses have supported you who we could give a shoutout to?

Ahh all our lovely family of neighbouring traders at Netil Market of course – too many to mention them all but come down on a Saturday and check them all out. There is something for everyone there. Also, love the wider family in Broadway Market and London Fields. Special mention to Ali at Umut on the corner of Broadway Market.

What does the future look like for LemLem kitchen?

We only open on Fridays and Saturdays at the moment, but always being asked by our regulars if we have plans to open somewhere permanent. It wasn’t an idea when we started out but now thanks to the confidence our customers have given we are thinking about possibilities more and more. Either way Netil Market feels like our home and we love the vibe of the place, it’s customers and traders. Watch this space…

What made you join Colu East London?

We were approached by Colu and – after a bit of googling – really liked the idea of taking money out of the circulation of banks even if only in a small way. Keeping the money circulating in a community benefits everyone. It brings more friendship and trust which is rare in a major city like London.

Take a trip to their kitchen or find out more here.