SPOTLIGHT: Déjà Vu Interviews ... Yum Bun
What’s not to like about bao buns, right? Soft, filled with delicious morsels and one of those items you’ll be wanting one second, devouring the next and craving for days after.
One of the very first vendors to bring bao buns to the forefront was Lisa with her stall Yum Bun. We’ve got to say from personal experience, the flavours are great and nothing beats that first bite of pillowy soft bao alongside her delicious fillings. FYI, the pork belly and the mushroom one are stellar. Lisa kicked things off back in 2010 with nothing but a campstove, some pork and some buns at Broadway Market Courtyard so it’s safe to say that things have definitely changed.
So what’s the story behind Yum Bun?
Lisa is without a doubt, one of the early starters of the thriving London street food scene. Having set up back in 2010, she saw it purely as a weekend activity that she managed alongside her career. The inspiration for the buns themselves came after seeing the recipe for them in a cookbook and I guess you could say it took off from there. It was certainly a career change that all of Lisa’s friends and family were surprised about as she had no plans to leave her fledgling career as a radio producer. In a way, it surprised Lisa herself and she describes how there wasn’t really anybody selling bao buns at the time so it just felt like it was meant to be. Life’s best decisions are often unexpected, right?
“It was very rough and ready back in those days” is how Lisa describes the street food scene at the time. Getting into the scene when it was really just starting means a lot of it felt very makeshift but also allowed Lisa the chance to get to know a lot of people who have been valuable contacts within the industry. She describes still continuing her job, only doing the Saturday market and then getting set up with KERB which allowed her to trade at the Gherkin, King’s Cross and different KERB events or parties. The year after that, StreetFeast launched and now Yum Bun is one of the most regular vendors with a place at Hawker House, Giant Robot, Public, Model Market and Dinerama.
The slow roasted pork belly bun is the one Lisa would recommend to any newcomer but Yum Bun also do delicious looking Yumplings, seaweed shaker fries and ice cream buns too. Talk about some excellent choices and it’s this tasty fayre that’s seen them have a permanent home at the Spitalfields Kitchens also.
Read below for more tasty morsels from our interview:
If you could describe Yum Bun in 3 words, what would they be?
Hot, fluffy, yum!
What one dish would you recommend to a first timer to your stall?
The pork bun - it’s our original and everyone loves it.
What’s been your most memorable experience so far as a street food vendor?
There’s lots of great moments! Some of the people who have run Yum Bun alongside me have been with me for years so going to events together is always fun. We went to Latitude Festival and there were like 12 of us there but we just had such a great time.
Also, moments like opening a new location are memorable. The build of a new location is always stressful but it’s always worth it in the end.
What’s the best thing about being a street food vendor?
The people - everyone around me is like an extended family, from the inner circle of the people who work for Yum Bun, the customers and regulars, the other traders who we’ve grown up next to and the people who run the venues we trade at.
Also, just the freedom and variety that comes with street food. It hasn’t been a drudge of a career at all and has taught me so much. I’ve come so far as a business owner - at the start, I didn’t really know anything about numbers but now I really enjoy a spreadsheet!
Other vendors you’re loving?
I’ve always had a lot of love for a Baba G’s Bhangra burger! I’m so impressed with how Club Mexicana have taken the vegan scene by storm. Petare do some great Venezuelan arepas, they’re delicious. I also love Thunderbird because who doesn’t love great buffalo wings, right?
What are the future plans for Yum Bun?
Well, I’m having a baby in a couple of months! At the moment I’m happy with how it’s all running after a couple of years of hard work on the operations behind running a lot of small sites at once.