We finally moved into our new house in Bury St Edmunds at the weekend. It’s been a bit of a mission of a summer to organise moving from South West to South East but there’s one big positive: we’re lucky enough to have family in both Kent and Essex who we could split our time between over the summer months.
Before we left Essex for Suffolk, I decided to take the five-year-old out for one final meal out in his temporary city of residence. As he’s developed a fondness for bubble tea, I led him to Chelmsford Market to try one of the few vendors he’d not already tried: Baan Noodle.
Chelmsford has apparently had an indoor market since the 11th century – and while the current building certainly isn’t that old, it’s barely changed since I left my Chelmsford secondary school in 2001. Many of the vendors have, though…and for the better.
Head into the market at the very left-hand side, and beyond Lek’s Thai Food (which has been there for over 20 years) and the butcher you’ll find Baan Noodle: an Asian street food vendor that focuses on noodles, rice dishes and bubble tea. As well as a few tables inside there are a couple out on the main walkway through the market, which is where we grabbed a seat while we decided what to go for.
The bubble tea was a must, of course: a mango fruit tea with green apple popping bubbles for the boy and a brown sugar milk tea with tapioca pearls for me, both very reasonably priced at under £4 each (price includes one topping). The mango tea was super sweet and very refreshing, and he loved the flavour and texture of the green apple bubbles. The brown sugar milk tea, meanwhile, was tasty enough – the tea flavour overpowered the brown sugar, unlike in other Chelmsford bubble tea venues, while the tapioca pearls were soft in places and chalky in others which was a shame.
I’d left it to the boy to choose a main for us to share, and he chose well. From the menu of starters, noodle dishes and rice dishes (a surprisingly varied menu given the size of Baan Noodle) it was the duck noodle soup (£10.99) that grabbed his attention.
We could see the chef putting our lunch together while we sipped our bubble teas – and soon enough, we were presented with a large, steaming bowl of food which smelled incredible. I also loved the fact that the Baan Noodle team asked if I wanted a separate plate and cutlery to share some out for my son, but he was happy for us to eat from one bowl (and I think he liked the idea of me feeding him with chopsticks!)
The presentation was beautiful and they certainly didn’t skimp on the toppings. The mound of shredded duck piled on top featured wonderfully crispy skin and tender meat, and hidden underneath was an equally sizeable mountain of flat rice noodles, cooked so they were still beautifully chewy.
Crunchy beansprouts and sliced pak choi leaves decorated more of the bowl, and the top was sprinkled with crispy onions, adding both saltiness and texture.
And the broth? Oh it was beautiful! Although thin, it was rich and somewhat sweet, and we slurped up every last drop. While it’s a bit off the beaten track (unless you visit Chelmsford Market, of course) Baan Noodle appears to be popular with local workers at lunchtime – and for those who aren’t hyper-local, it’s certainly worth a slight detour from the city centre’s main dining areas to give their noodles a go.