I’m well aware this may be a contentious statement, but I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway; goodbye pizza, see ya later burgers, the absolute king of junk food has got to be the humble piece of fried (not)chicken. Honestly, is there anything more satisfying than that crispy, crunchy, seasoned coating met by that juicy, meaty soy/seitan/insert-your-meat-substitute-here interior. I think not.

So you can imagine how pleased I was when Newcastle became home to it’s very own, entirely vegan, fried chicken shop. I was practically pitching a tent outside the premises waiting for it to open.

Junk It Up, based on Shields Road in Byker, has a simple menu of Southern fried “fricken” and kebabs. The interior has a wooden, industrial vibe and a classic fast-food layout, where you order at the counter and eat at one of their benches or take your feast away with you. I was super pleased to see there where plenty of people coming in and out during our visit – I just love seeing small vegan businesses thrive.

Though sorely tempted to try a kebab, I went for the classic “fricken”, ordering 5 pieces along with fries and mayo. The service was great, with super friendly staff and the speedy arrival of our food. The fried chicken was perfectly crisp, coated in Junk It Up’s special coating of over 12 herbs & spices. The “meat” was made with textured soy protein and it provided the perfect soft, meaty, textural contrast to the crisp coating. It even looks uncannily like chicken when you pull it apart. Most of the food on the menu is made with soy protein, although the donner kebab uses seitan.

Price wise, I paid £8 for 5 pieces of chicken and a portion of fries, not the cheap as chips prices you might find at mainstream junk food restaurants, but worth every penny to support a local vegan business with such delicious food. I did notice some cookies on the counter but I decided that may be a gluttonous step too far… It’s safe to say I’ll be back; I’ve got my eye on a bourbon bbq kebab.

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