Pushing Burmese food to the forefront of Birmingham’s food scene is Hungrymunks, a mobile street food business serving vegan and vegetarian Burmese fusion food. Their menu is inspired by flavours from Burma, Thailand, India and China.
Founders of Hungrymunks, Dev and Gaurav are both fresh graduates out of Cranfield University. Being international students from India, the friendship grew and the idea of working together came along. The love for food and the knowledge of Asian cuisines brought them to start Hungrymunks. The founders are both trained food technologists and are on the start of their journey into this industry. They have a lot of plans for the growth of the concept but are focusing on getting their product out to people and building a following for the cuisine.
Intrigued by the underrepresented cuisine, we spoke to Gaurav to find out more about Burmese fusion street food and their story.
1) Where did the idea for Hungrymunks come from?
Dev and I studied our master’s degrees at Cranfield University. During the last few months of our studies we came up with the idea of starting out as street food traders. We tried a lot of different cuisines and dishes but were never satisfied with our menu and kept delaying our plans to start.
This all changed in February 2020, when we made a trip to Solihull and met with the people at taste collective, which is a street food venue in Mell square, Solihull. I remember, it was a Friday evening and they asked us, “can you guys start on Wednesday?”. It didn’t take us too much time to say YES! Now we had to create a menu, buy our equipment and start trading in 5 days. Fortunately for us, things fell into places and we started HUNGRYMUNKS.
2) What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive, keep yourself busy?
Typical day in work in quite fun. Wake up time is early in the morning and leave home by 8am. I make a stop at one of the suppliers to buy fresh ingredients for the day. We tend to start cooking by 10 am. It takes us about 2 hours to do our preparations to start serving at 12.
Free time before and after prep time is used to do other back of the house stuff. Ordering, accounts, marketing, booking events and a lot more. We tend to also take the time to plan and work during the non-busy hours of operation. It is hard work but does keep us busy and makes us productive. We also spend a lot of our free time to try new dishes and continuously develop our menu.
3) What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive?
I have a habit to wake up early. It is annoying sometimes but no matter how late I go to bed, I am always up early! This is definitely something to get used to, but now my days are so productive. I can get a lot done even before I leave home for the day.
4) What advice would you give your younger self?
I would advise little me to live in the moment and don’t overthink things. I have been very thoughtful and realised that I tend to overthink. It has worked out very well for me but living in the moment make life a lot more exciting and fun!
It was our spontaneity and the idea of just saying YES is what made Hungrymunks come alive.
5) What is the one thing you do over and over again and recommend everyone else do?
Follow your dreams and do what you like! It is something that you will never regret. We all tend to live our lives based on what others might think. So many of us have made decisions only to stay in sync with the society. I feel everyone should do what they love, follow their dreams and work towards your passion. The world will be so much happier and so much more fun.
This is what makes Hungrymunks different, we cook food that we love to eat! We do not worry too much about what others are doing and how traditional cuisines work. We just blend flavours from our favourite east Asian dishes to create our fusion cuisine. The best part is, that everyone else seems to be loving it too!
6) What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The one strategy that has helped us grow is make food that is great for the taste buds but at the same time great for the body and the planet.
Our menu is completely Vegetarian and most of it is Vegan. All our packaging and cutlery are biodegradable or recyclable materials. Although, this adds to the costs and reduces margins, it makes our statement and all our guests love it. Vegan food is great for the body. It makes us function better and become healthier. Although, we have not started too long ago, being an ethical business that cares, is helping us grow quicker and a lot of people are getting interested.
7) What’s one trend in the F&B industry that excites you?
The F&B industry is highly influenced by what consumers think and want. People are becoming more thoughtful about what actions have a negative effect on the environment. This makes everyone want to use products that are recyclable, recycled, have a low carbon footprint and be good for themselves and the planet. Thus, there is a demand for more vegan products and innovative packaging solutions. This trend also builds upon eating and living local. Thus, there is going to be a major shift in consumer habits which seem to be driving a lot of the industry’s innovation.
We hope to be doing our bit during this shift and grow along with it.
8) What is the best £20 you recently spent? What and why?
The best £20 we spent recently was on making a trip to Digbeth Dining club. We finished early on evening and went to explore the area and see what food traders are out there and how they are doing things. We had visited many such venues and vendors before, but this time was with a different viewpoint. We got many ideas and it has definitely helped us make our concept stronger and Hungrymunks a lot more fun!
9) What is your favourite quote?
My favourite quote is ‘The secret of getting ahead is getting started’.
We all spend a lot of time thinking about stuff but never end up starting. It is important for us to start doing something and work hard. This will always lead to success.
10) What are some of your favourite places to eat at?
My favourite chain would definitely be Wagamama. But most times I like street food. I enjoy exploring different cuisines and flavours and I think that street food and small family run places are the best to do that. You will always see me ordering the most unusual dish from the menu! But it has to be vegetarian.
11) What’s the best thing to order from Hungrymunks?
We currently only have five dishes on the menu. Each dish is very different to the other and is a product of one of our crazy ideas. We are always developing new dishes and will continue to grow our menu.
I personally like it all, but I would say our Honey Chilli Chips are what blows everyone away. The dish has a very interesting combination of flavours and tastes nothing like you would imagine. First, we batter our potato chips to give them a special longer-lasting crunch and a coating of our spice mix. This is then tossed in a honey chilli sauce with a touch of garlic and tomatoes. The freshly cooked chips are then tossed in a wok with our sauce. The dish is garnished with sesame seeds and spring onions.
12) Are there any exciting plans coming from Hungrymunks soon?
There are definitely a lot of exciting plans coming up. New dishes are in development for our menu but at the same time are also talking to different venues. We plan to have a few outlets across the country very soon.
Our goal is to make packages of our sauces for people to take home and experiment with their everyday cooking. We believe in making quality products and get the bet across to our customers.
Dev and Gaurav’s idea is to move locations across the country and put up stalls at different festivals and events. Their current residency is at Taste Collective, Mell Square, Solihull. Visit Hungrymunks for some delicious Burmese food on the go.