For a street food venture that launched just six months ago, Mexikings has big plans. It wants to grow itself into a chain of restaurants similar to Nando’s, but for Mexican food, and the aim is to start next year.
If you think you have seen it all with Mexican food too, then Mexikings might be able to teach you a thing or two.
It has two signature dishes in particular. Tamales which are corn based ‘dumplings’ cooked in a corn husk filled with chicken or sweet potato and smothered in one of three sauces – tomatillo, salsa roja or mole. It is then served up with garlic butter rice and frijoles (black bean paste).
Flautas are also unique to Mexikings menu, which are corn tortillas that are rolled and fried and served up with homemade dips like tomatillo salsa and guacamole, along with fresh lettuce, sour cream and cheese.
Co-founder Katrice King tells Food Spark that at the root of Mexikings is a love story. Her partner is Mexican and on her first trip over to meet his family she ate some of the most delicious food of her life.
“I was blown away that this was Mexican and I thought what we have in the UK is really bad Tex-Mex. I think the UK is missing out on phenomenal cuisine, as its food we love but we don’t know the reality of it,” she says.
From Mexico streets into markets
Creating tamale addicts has been key to the business, says King. “We are keeping it super authentic as it’s served on the streets and they are actually a breakfast food in Mexico. It’s like a hug from the inside and it’s comforting food like the Sunday roast,” she explains.
Mexikings appears at a number of Kerb markets around London and have also done a 10 week collaboration with Sin Gusano Mezcal Bar. Recently added to the menu was a dish called alambre, which is a combination of beef, bacon, peppers, garlic, onion and chilli cooked on the grill, with melted cheese, coriander and a splash of lime.
But King has other street food favourites on the radar. These include pozole, which is a rich chicken broth with large maize pieces and chicken that comes with added lime, coriander and radish, and is served up with fresh corn tortillas. The colour of the dish can even be customised, as it can be made red with chillies, left white with no additions or turned green with the coriander.
She is also hoping to introduce Londoners to cochinita pibil, which is two corn tacos that are served with refried beans in the middle and are topped with pulled pork and a sauce made from achiote chillies mixed in.
With the current offering though, King is confident that the flavours and dishes are authentic as the recipes come from her partner’s mother and grandmother, while his sister and cousin are chief taste testers. Vegan and gluten-free options are also available to cater to growing dietary needs.
Authentic but affordable
The UK’s obsession with food and people’s confidence in exploring different cuisines has helped spur on King’s dream of taking Mexikings to the masses. She says markets like Kerb have set a benchmark, which means that street food can be at restaurant quality standards, but for minimal financial outlay for start-ups.
But doesn’t Mexikings face fierce competition from established and successful Mexican chains that area already in the market?
“Wahaca has definitely brought some dishes that people haven’t tried, but I want Mexikings to become much more accessible. Wahaca do chef it up a bit and change recipes to suit the British market, so I want Mexiking to become a chain of restaurants like Nando’s, but keep the authenticity of the food,” she says.
King sees the price point of a chain like Nando’s as offering affordability to all segments of the market and it’s something she would like to echo. In fact, there is a chain in Mexico called La Casa de Tono which she says offers exactly that and she would like to imitate that concept over in the UK.
“In London, Mestizo is the best restaurant for authentic food and all Mexicans say it really represents Mexican food … and Lupita are authentic, although the flavour is a bit dulled. Mexican food is zesty and zingy, but most of the chains that we think are Mexican are more American Tex-Mex style. El Pastor is amazing but a bit expensive so it doesn’t allow for all groups of people to try Mexican food, which is a shame,” she says.
“I would love to see people try Mexican food, like Nando’s allows people to access restaurants on a budget, and I think there needs to be more of that in London.”