Back in January myself and a couple of friends ventured out against the advice of severe weather warnings to Brick Lane in search of Mark Gevaux aka the Ribman. Having read about his legendary ‘best ribs in London’, it seemed only fitting to test them out on a Sunday afternoon with a hangover the size of China. The snow was causing havoc all over London but the Ribman was determined that the show must go on, in fact he set up shop at 3am to start the long process of slow cooking 150 kilos of babyback ribs, that is dedication right there! As it turned out he was the only street vendor that bothered showing up on this occasion, I guess it’s partly this passion and enthusiasm that has made him so popular and successful, not to mention the quality of his food. All the ribs are sourced from Suffolk and Norfolk farms, they are cooked once (at some obscene hour of the night) and wrapped up, then cooked again slowly for several hours and rested for a couple more hours until the meat falls straight off the bone, rest assured some serious effort goes into these ribs! You can choose between a rack of ribs for £7, a rib roll for £6, or a rib roll with an extra mountain of meat for £10.
We decided seeing as we’d come from afar we might as well go for the £10 special. The rib roll itself was absolutely gigantic, they literally couldn’t fit any more meat in if they tried, they then proceeded to fill up the box with so much meat I’m pretty sure I could hear the little piggies wimpering in Suffolk. Then came the choice of sauce, all homemade by Mark himself each with their own level of hotness and comedy names, you can choose from straight forward barbeque sauce, Christ on a bike, holy mother of God, Judas is scary hot, and the piece de la resistance – Holy Fuck sauce, all made using different proportions of fresh scotch bonnets and naga jolokia chillies (just about the hottest in the world). The first bite into my roll confirmed that our journey had been worth every minute, the meat was succulent with a texture similar to that of pulled pork but chunkier, still moist and juicy with flavour, I love my chillies so I went straight for the Holy Fuck sauce and it was amazing, unlike any other chilli sauce I’ve ever tried and quite literally hot as fuck, seriously not for the faint-hearted! My mate Dan finished the £10 special and then ordered a £6 roll for dessert he was so impressed, I couldn’t even finish mine so I don’t know how he managed it but I guess it’s testament to how tasty an experience this was. As for my hangover…. what hangover?
We were lucky enough to have a good chinwag with Mark as he wasn’t too busy when we arrived, a thoroughly friendly bloke who clearly loves doing this for a living and meeting new folk. I’ll warn you now though, he won’t give up his recipe or exact methods for love nor money! Watch out for his newly created ‘Fuck Yuzu’ sauce for which he collaborated with Masterchef 2011 winner Tim Anderson (the American guy who won the final with burgers), it combines Holy Fuck sauce with Yuzu juice, yuzu is an east Asian citrus fruit used in Japanese and Korean cuisine.
Go and check out The Ribman for a true man v food experience on Brick Lane on Sundays 10am-2pm, or at Kings Cross ‘Kerb’ street food market every Thursday lunchtime, you won’t be disappointed. He also appears elsewhere from time to time so follow him on twitter for updates and regular competitions to win bottles of Holy Fuck sauce – @theribman