It’s not hard to find Temple of Seitan, just follow the trail of vegans from which ever Hackney station you arrived at.
It was around 13:30 when I arrived and the queue was out the door and across two widths of walkway descending a step. A fashion has formed for using the step along the shopfront as a place to sit and eat your Seitan treats from within the tightly packed shop. There’s a couple of small tables and a few stools directly in front of the shop window, but this was rammed for the duration of my visit. Ironically the shop is smack bang between a mixed grill type cafe and a butchers, neither of which had any customers while the queue to Temple of Seitan continued to grow, as did my appetite as the wonderful smells of fried treats started to drift outwards over the crowd. The shop has a really nice style and the kitchen area looked really clean and cared for. Despite the volume of customers the staff seemed really calm and focused, and the whole vibe inside was unlike any other fast food restaurant I’ve ever experienced. No shouting or pushing. Just hungry vegans patiently waiting for their lunch!
The menu is nice and simple. A small choice of mains (burger, sub, roll, 2 piece, nuggets) just a couple of what I would call premium sides (Mac’n’cheese, Popcorn bites) and the choice of coleslaw and fries. By staring jealously at everyone who walked out with their orders I noticed that the firm favourite was the strip sub, so I ordered one of those along with some popcorn bites. Like in most coffee shops your name is attached to your order which I think is a nice personal touch, and as it’s so busy it really helps the staff get the orders out efficiently. There was already a ‘Paul’ in the queue so I was then known as ‘Paul 2’. Despite the impression given by the long queue I didn’t have to wait all that long at all for my name to be shouted for confirmation on adding hot sauce to my sub, obviously I said yes, shortly before being handed my completed order. As I left the shop I could feel the hungry eyes of the queue on me so I made my way towards the end of the step to tuck in. The moment of truth and… wow, they’ve nailed it! Both the texture and taste of the fried ‘chicken’ is amazing. It’s tender, crispy but not dry around the edges, and with a real meaty feel. It honestly reminded me of the real thing from way back when.
For the strip sub you get a sub roll, lettuce, two good sized strips of ‘chicken’, ‘bacon’ strips, v mayo and hot sauce. I like this simple no fuss approach, the fried ‘chicken’ is the star of the show so there’s no need to go overboard on the trimmings. Then for the popcorn bites you get a good portion of, well, popcorn bite sized pieces in a tub. There’s help yourself sauces available if that’s your thing, I just had them with v mayo. I paid £6 for the sub and £5 for the popcorn bites, which I feel was a fair price. It’s not cheap, but not expensive either when you consider that they make their ‘chicken’ from scratch. You definitely get what you pay for in MHO.
If you haven’t been you should definitely make this your new number one place to eat next time you’re in London, or even just go to London just to eat here! It’s London after all so you won’t be bored for the rest of the day. There’s been a lot of hype about Temple of Seitan, and personally I think it really lives up to it. Will it catch on? I truly hope so.
Written by Paul Colledge