Review: Zen Noodle Bar, Bury St Edmunds - 'A cut above the usual takeaway fare'
- Credit: Liz Heath
Our food reviewer Mark Heath and his wife Liz tried the takeaway offering from the Zen Noodle Bar in Bury St Edmunds. Here's what they made of it.
Friends, while many pubs and restaurants have been able to open their doors again since April 12, let us not forget those without outside spaces, who have to toil onwards towards May 17 and the great summer re-opening (we hope).
It was in that spirit that we decided to sample Zen Noodle Bar's wares this month, a long-standing Bury St Edmunds restaurant with a good reputation and a stylish, modern interior - but no outside space.
Thus, they remain reliant on takeaway take-up, for the time being at least.
First, the ordering. Visit their website - zenbury.co.uk - pick your weapons and give them a call.
Then it's just a matter of arranging a collection time, picking up your order and paying when you do so.
We ordered a range of sides and mains - more on all those shortly - and they were all packed away neatly in a recyclable paper bag, within a bunch of paper and plastic cartons. Nice to look at, and environmentally friendly.
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Right, to the eating. Zen offers a range of side dishes which can serve as starters, so we ordered up a bunch to kick us off - crispy duck rolls, satay chicken, Japanese king prawns in breadcrumbs and, of course, spicy Thai prawn crackers. You have to have prawn crackers, right? It's the law.
Generally speaking, they were all excellent. The crackers were - as the name suggests - spicy and a little fishy, a cut above your usual takeaway prawn crackers. Tasty sweet chilli dipping sauce with them too.
The satay chicken was more spicy than peanut-flavoured - something to bear in mind if you, like me, crave that peanut hit - but the meat was plentiful and well-cooked.
The duck rolls, meanwhile, were packed with meat and flavour, plus not too greasy as so many can be. Team them with a hoisin dipping sauce and you're sucking on diesel.
For me though, the highlight was those breaded prawns. Crispy on the outside, perfectly cooked, soft and meaty inside, teaming perfectly with the chilli dipping sauce. We had five, but I reckon we could have easily demolished 25.
Starters down, it was on to the main event.
We decided to try one noodle dish and one rice dish - spicy Singapore noodles and Kung Po chilli chicken.
Let's start with the noodles. First things first, they were plentiful! Easily enough to share between two and have yourself a filling meal.
They were tasty, too. Hot and spicy fine egg noodles, fried with an embarrassment of meaty riches - roast pork, chicken and shrimps, as well as egg and a range of vegetables.
Loads of meat, each bringing different flavours, plus crunch from the veg, and heat too. Excellent.
Next up, and finally, was the chilli chicken.
Really big, meaty chunks of chicken, coated in a light batter and served with onions, green peppers, fresh chillies and cashew nuts, all coated in a hot and sour sauce, atop a mound of fluffy egg-fried rice.
This was tasty too, though for us not quite to the standard of the noodles. The sauce was a little sweet, but the chicken, again, was generously portioned and cooked well.
Thus, our takeaway meal came to end. I can't lie, we were absolutely fit to burst - a burden bravely borne for your benefit, dear readers.
Money off is always good, in any walk of life. And you get a 10% discount just for ordering a takeaway from Zen - very nice.
Zen's closed Monday, but open Tuesday to Sunday between 12 and 2pm, and then again from 5pm till 9pm.
Try the curry
I didn't have it this time, but on previous visits to Zen - when one could sit down inside and everything - I was also a big fan of their Thai green chicken curry. Warning though - it's HOT.
Our meal came to just over £39, which I'd say was good value for the quality of the food.
I'd definitely say the Singapore noodles were my top pick, whereas Liz would go for the duck rolls and the breaded prawns. That three-piece would make a mighty meal for one, or a lighter bite for two.
Classic dishes, but a cut above the usual takeaway fare.