A Student’s Search for Umami: Norfolk St. and Regent St.
A queijada by Norfolk St.Sam Perry
Mill Road’s less-travelled sibling is Norfolk Street and while there are fewer restaurants, they all make it count. Thrive is likely to be the restaurant most students are aware of, as part of the vegan restaurant double act along with Vegan Vice on East Road. The curious student needs only to go on a few steps further to come upon Zhonghua Traditional Snacks though, home of what many believe to be Cambridge’s best dumplings.
A bold claim indeed but born out in the 31 different types of dumplings available to the hungry consumer, a particular favourite of mine being tofu and Chinese chive (12 of which will set you back GBP7).
“The curious student needs only to go on a few steps further to come upon Zhonghua Traditional Snacks”
A longer walk down Norfolk Street brings African-Caribbean shop Yemtox and then two doors down you find Eko Kitchen, adorned with awards it has won since its opening in 2015. Although Eko is Yoruba for what we know in English as Lagos, Eko Kitchen brands itself broadly as an African restaurant. The welcome one gets on entering is extremely friendly and the TV in the restaurant displays Premier League and AFCON football when on, while my stay was accompanied largely by Wizkid.
Those unfamiliar with African food should be aware that those running the restaurant are happy to advise those in this position, and photos of menu items helps the African food rookie navigate the differences between ogbono and egusi soups. Vegetarian options are noted but many menu items can be prepared without meat and with more or less spice if the question is raised. During my meal at Eko Kitchen, my food was prepared exclusively by women; it should be noted that women — and black women in particular — are underrepresented within restaurant kitchens nationwide before the pandemic, which worsened these existing inequalities.
The final food stop of Norfolk Street is the bakery of the same name, this site being the original with another on the way to/from the station on the intersection of Station and Hills Road.
The Portuguese bakery known in Cambridge for its excellent pasteis de nata also offers Portuguese store cupboard staples and lunch items both sweet and savoury. Available at the same price, the cod fish cake was also a delight for GBP1.60. If one is prepared to spend 20 pence more, or in particular need for a medieval vehicle of exchange, I recommend the queijada, a cheese-based pastry that comes in milk and caramel, orange, passion fruit and almond flavours.
Regent St. Regent Street’s great food is often overlooked in my experience, with great diversity and much to offer beyond the aforementioned Kim’s Bulgogi, Little Seoul and the Regal. The “Rougamo” in 1+1 Rougamo refers to a sandwich from Xi’an, most traditionally meat between baijimo bread but a vegan version is also available with kelp, tofu skin, carrots, cucumber and beansprouts within a pitta.
Where 1+1 Rougamo really shines however are their noodles, found in their purest form with the LiangPi, often eaten along with a Rougamo, cold white noodles paired with a delicate and refreshing mix of sesame, chilli and peanut flavours, lightened with tofu skin, cucumber, carrot and coriander. Tiffin Truck is also often cited as a reliable source of warming food, the kale chaat being both tasty and my first thought whenever I hear someone recount a bit of ‘classic Cambridge chat’. Honourable Mentions: Little Seoul, Golden House, Yim Wah, 7 Days, North China Dumpling, Doppelganger, Kim’s Bulgogi
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