I always liked the sound of ‘The Rib Man’. Bottom line is, ribs are tasty, and if there is a man in London who claims to be THE rib man, then hey, I think it’s worth looking into. Anyone who devotes his or her life to cooking the best ribs in the greatest city in the world is someone to be admired and today, I set off in search of purportedly the greatest ribs in London.
I’m not a huge fan of East London – ever since I studied abroad here in 2008 and lived in Mile End and witnessed a guy running out of a pub with a jagged piece of a china plate after some other guy threatening to slice his throat open – and I was told by a British friend ‘Oh, don’t worry, they’re just in opposing gangs’ – I have never really warmed to the area. I make a quarterly pilgrimage to East London as there are some highlights such as the Indian food on Brick Lane, the Vietnamese food on Kingsland Road in Shoreditch, and my guilty pleasure, The Drunken Monkey on Shoreditch High Street. I think of East London as New York City – it’s great to visit for a day but I’d never want to live there.
Mark Gevaux aka ‘The Rib Man’ sets up stall on Brick Lane on Sunday from 9:00am-sell out. Having arrived at noon (stupid bus!) I was relieved to see one of the Rib Man’s helpers stirring up the juicy rib meat and I knew I wasn’t too late. I read lots of reviews of people seeking out the Rib Man only to sadly discover he had sold out of all of his ribs by the time they arrived.
The actual stall is pretty unassuming – I would have missed it had I not been greedily eyeing up every stall I approached to see if it was The Rib Man’s.
The Rib Man’s ribs are babyback ribs from pigs that are outdoor reared on Norfolk and Suffolk farms. You can buy a rib meat sandwich for £6 or an extra-large one for £10. According to his website, he sells racks of ribs starting from £7 but there were no racks of ribs at the stall today. A bit disappointing although I would have had a difficult decision to make if this weren’t the case. He also makes his own sauces , a smokey BBQ , a hot sauce and a ‘blow your throat apart’ hot sauce called “holy f*ck”.
I know you will be disappointed to hear that I decided to stick with the Rib Meat sandwich and not go all out for the extra large. However, this is no ordinary sized sandwich by any means…
The sandwich offers up a substantial amount of tender juicy meat that melts in your mouth (unless you get a fragment of bone – but hey, at least you know the meat came fresh off the bone!) There’s something really primal about ribs – sinking your teeth into succulent pig meat and tearing large hunks of meaty goodness off its bones and devouring it in a kind of animalistic, transfixed state. It’s what the Rav B is all about, pretty much. Carnivore desire. I really need to try the Rib Man’s rack of ribs – nothing is more satisfactory than holding onto the bone and eating the meat off of it – but I suppose the sandwich is easier to eat, especially at the Brick Lane market where there’s never anywhere to sit. The meat was divine (bone fragments aside) – there was plenty of it to get in my gob and each bite was as delectable as the one before. The meat was not chewy at all which was great. I decided to go with the Hot BBQ sauce as when the guy asked me if I could handle the ‘holy f*ck’ sauce I said no, absolutely not. The sauce was absolutely amazing – it was tangy, not too spicy, and this might sound a bit strange but had the smooth texture of Chinese Hoison sauce and some similar flavors – salt, garlic, red chili peppers etc.
I haven’t sampled all the ribs in London (Pitt Cue Co is next on the list) so I can’t say with 100% conviction that these are the best ribs in London but they’re pretty damn tasty and the BBQ sauce is phenomenal.
My only recommendations are that they serve beer or fizzy drinks at the stall to enhance the experience. Also side dishes like chips, onion rings, mac and cheese, jalapeno corn bread, etc. would make a fabulous addition and would all probably taste amazing if you used them to lap up those extra bits of sauce that drip out while you’re eating. Come to think of it, serving a big helping of tater tots with this sandwich would be perfection.
For more information on the Rib Man and where you can find him, please visit his website: http://www.theribman.co.uk/