Discovering Limin’- an Island Food Restaurant in London

There is an exciting new food and drink experience in London. Representing the flavours and tastes of Trinidad, this is the epitome of home-cooked goodness made by the London Trinidadian community.

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Kris (@untappedlondon) and I set out to investigate! We asked the team what Limin’ is all about.

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What does Limin’ mean?

Limin’ is part of the Trinidadians’ DNA. It is the art of doing nothing; a gathering of friends and family which usually involves drinking and food.

So, what is the story behind Limin’?

Limin’ is a rum shop, rum bar and Caribbean restaurant all rolled into one.

The owner is Sham Mahabir and the people working here are all his family, friends and connections made within the London Trinidadian community. It came about after Sham wanted to showcase the cuisine of Trinidad. He was not able to find Trinidad food here in the UK and the ‘Caribbean Food’ scene in London was dominated by Jamaican cuisine. He was also surprised to see that this amazing street food had not made a splash in the London street food scene yet.

The interiors are designed in the form of a rum shop. In Trinidad, a rum shop is a place where you can come and hang out with your friends.

Sham’s concept was to create a place where you could be in the company of good friends, relaxing, chilling out, having something to eat and drink with lively music in the background. There is no rush, no need to be elsewhere and you can stay for as long as you want.

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What can we expect from the food?

Limin was set up to showcase the food from Trinidad. Trinidad can be found at the foot of the Caribbean. It is so close to South America that locals claim you can see Venezuela on a clear day. Composed of twin islands, Trinidad and Tobago, its culinary landscape is influenced from food from Africa, India, China and the Middle East (more recently). It is about bringing this eclectic Trinidadian food culture to London.

The whole menu is based on Trinidadian home cooking. Everything you see on the menu is what Trinidadians would traditionally eat at home. The chef, Aunty Indra, is Trinidadian and came on board to help Sham develop the concept. The whole team that works here is also Trinidadian.

Sham wanted to bring a piece of Trinidad to London. This is a place where Trinidadian people can meet up, enjoy their culture and experience home cooking in a place far away from home. Not only that, it is also about allowing other Londoners to experience their culture in a fun, light-hearted way and by tasting the amazing food from this beautiful island.

At Limin, the menu is made up of the food Sham grew up eating and loved. He fell in love with his childhood while doing this project.

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How has the response been so far?

Since their launch, every night has been packed with people who have come here through word-of-mouth, visitors to the market, curious passersby and walk-ins attracted by the music and the bar. Everyone who has been here has loved the vibes and the generous hospitality of Sham and his team.

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We love the sound of all that homemade food, but what about drinks?

The cocktails menu has been created by Paolo Molinaro – chief mixologist of Limin’ (formerly of the Hutong Cocktail bar at Shard).

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Verdict: Kris and I tried their their Rum Punch. It had a good flavour base from the rum, was refreshingly tropical and had depth to it. This is a drink that one could easily enjoy in winter as well as summer.

What are Cutters?

Cutters are little snacks that you enjoy with a glass of rum (and other drinks). They are little spicy morsels to whet your appetite. In Trinidad, you would find them as street food snacks or in a rum shop. The idea is take your time to show off and enjoy your bottle of rum whilst eating your cutters (normally by hand).

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All that talk is making us hungry; so where do we start?

To begin with, you can have a selection of cutters which include:

Pholourie

(Ground split peas with spices, made into batter which is then left to ferment, made into little round balls, deep fried and served with pepper and tamarind sauce)

Aloo Pies

(Spicy potato pastries)

Accra

(Fried salt fish balls)

Doubles

(Popular road side snack comprising of small flatbread with chickpea curry, tamarind chutney and pepper sauce)

Hot and Spicy Chicken Wings

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Verdict: The doubles were amazing! We would totally have those again, all the time with drinks if we could. Everything else was just unbelievably delicious! The flavours were different but so good. It was a different kind of spicy food – the spice here enhances the dish rather than overpowers it and that worked very well for me. The extra sour notes in the food awakened the senses. My personal favourite were the wings – the special spice coating had a distinct taste which was mind-blowing. I sheepishly asked for a second round of those wings.

Loved our appetisers, what can we expect from the main dishes?

Our mains are large plates. All the food comes in one bowl but sectioned out so it doesn’t mix. One of the dishes to try is:

Roti with Curry Channa and Aloo, and a choice of veg (Pumpkin, Spinach or Tomato), Curry Chicken or Curry Goat

The rotis are a West Indian version of a chapati, cooked in a unique way called a Buss Up Shut. There is a whole history related to that which is very famous and unique to Trinidad. It is all cooked by hand with naturally fermented dough, cooked fresh on the day and kept warm.

The curries range from chickpeas, potatoes and a myriad of veg (pumpkin, spinach or tomato), curry chicken and curry goat. This is the kind of traditional staple food that you will find in weddings and religious events.

Every dish is prepared in its own unique way. The pumpkin is cut up, steamed, herbed, spiced and then smashed. The Tomato Choka is roasted, skinned and chopped before adding onions, pepper, coriander and spices. It is normally eaten with roti but rice works too.

You may be familiar with Curry Goat and Curry Chicken as popular West Indian dishes. But here, the flavours were distinctive, thanks to the use of Trinidian spices. It is made with a blend of Trinidadian curry powder, which imparts a deeper, richer colour and intense flavour.

The Fried Rice is based on a Chinese recipe, but with Caribbean influence. It is a nod to the very small Chinese populations that lives there.

This is a pop-up (although it has a restaurant feel) so food is served in recyclable containers with the options to take away any leftovers.

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Verdict: The rotis were very different to the ones I am used to from home (India). These were soft, warm and flaky. It is a great buttery canvas to all the spicy food for mopping and absorbing. The Pepper Prawns had a kick to it but were not overwhelming. Overall, we thought that the mains were slightly less on the heat compared to the Cutters, but fiery nevertheless. The curry goat was very tender; the pumpkin had a velvety smoothness and the spinach was a revelation. The mains had more of a sharing, homespun style to them. Everything was wonderfully spicy and full of flavour. 

What makes the food at Limin’ special?

All the food is cooked fresh, on the day, by hand, based on traditional recipes and spices/ingredients from Trinidad. None of our food is bland. The food is made by home cooks and chefs from the London Trinidadian community. We also cater to lactose intolerant/gluten free and vegans and have different lunch and dinner menus.

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Our final thoughts…

Limin’ is a passion project. By doing this, Sham and co. have brought Trinidad to life in London.

Speaking to Sham, he said that this was never his dream; it was an opportunity he took and ran with. Now he has created a place where the older Windrush generation can come, feel comfortable, safe and happy. A place where second and third generations Trinidadians settled in the UK can learn about their culture. Finally, a place where the neighbouring city workers would be proud to bring their colleagues during lunchtimes and after work.

All of the team serving us made us feel very welcome, like we were at someone’s house as extended members of this big Trinidadian family. Everyone who works there is very passionate, knowledgable and proud about their food, culture and traditions. Indeed, the supper club is run like a family operation, where everyone chips in in terms of time and expertise outside of their respective day jobs.

Limin’ has been born out of respect for Trinidad’s history and the need for preservation of their heritage. Their food is some of the best I have had this year. We were pretty blown away by the entire experience.

If you are heading to Old Spitalfields Market any time soon or are lucky enough to live/work near the area, give this phenomenal new pop-up a go!

We can’t wait to go Limin’ again!

N.B. This blog was produced in collaboration with Hollabox (video sharing app) but all photos are mine. Limin’ pop-up runs until 31st December 2018.

Instagam: @comelimewithus

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