• Yakumama duo chase a permanent home – with a pop-up vegan agenda

Yakumama duo chase a permanent home – with a pop-up vegan agenda

20 October 2018 by Neil Sowerby

IT has always been the best street food trader name around – Yakumama. It references a monstrous, man-eating snake mother that lurks in the Peruvian Amazon. No role model for the vegans then. Yet here we are in a Friday evening pop-up addressing a plant-based menu from Hannah Lovett and Marcelo Sandoval, aka Yakumama, who won Best Street Food at the 2015 Manchester Food and Drink Awards.

The Hebden Bridge-based duo are still going strong at our own GRUB, the Magic Rock tap in Huddersfield and Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds, but now this Yakumama is looking for a permanent nest for their South American themed cuisine.

It is a natural progression for the best of our street food operators. Fellow contenders in Manchester's Leftbank Kitchen Traders competition a couple of years ago have set up permanent restaurants – winners Beastro on the Spinningfields site, over in Marple, Chaat Cart, to be followed shortly by Hip Hop Chip Shop in Ancoats.

Now Hannah and Marcelo, who jumped ship at Leftbank after feeling the Allied London sponsored ‘cook-off’ wasn’t for them, have their eyes set on tonight’s venue, the Old Co-op  (above) in Todmorden. The plan is before Christmas to launch a crowdfunding campaign to secure the venue. ToM will keep you posted.

This glorious building housed Bear Wholefoods for three decades and is currently a slightly aimless events space. The first floor, once again hosting a two night Yakumama residency, used to be a veggie cafe, hence the no meat/fish stipulation, extended tonight to purely vegan.

Personally we miss their exquisite signature beef empanadas and spiced pork rind chicharrones, but the Yakumama team are experienced too at catering for vegans from Magic Rock’s plant-based festivals to GRUB’s Plant Powered Sundays at Fairfield Street Social.

Pick of tonight’s superb offering is a traditional and substantial Chilean bake (Leeds-born Marcelo has roots in that country) called Pastel del Choclo. It is Jerusalem artichokes cooked in tomatoes, onions and dates, topped with creamed sweetcorn and breadcrumbs. (£8).

Other dishes are more recognisable – wontons with hot mango sauce, fried plantain discs with salsa, paprika doused cassava fries – but Yakudashi Tofu is playfully leftfield. Inspired by the Japanese dish, Agedashi Tofu, the fried bean curd cubes come in a chipotle, porcini and shitake broth with stem ginger, crispy paprika leeks, tortilla strands, coriander and lime.

A simple salad with fennel and orange features leaves grown by the Incredible Edible Farm, the hands on offshoot of the acclaimed community food movement. Under commission, this mega allotment up on the moors also grew the tomatillos (green relatives of tomatoes) that topped the plantain discs. 

Tomatoes in Todmorden. Whatever next – the crowdfunded lair of Yakumama? We hope so.

Yakumama are back at the Old Co-op, 29 Rochdale Road, Todmorden OL14 7LA on November 23 and 24. Book here

For a full schedule of their pre-Christmas pop-ups across the north go to this link