Next in our series of visiting every food stall at Norwich Market was Bun Box, which occupies four stalls and aims to offer traditional Japanese food. It expanded from its smaller outlet at the market and has attracted somewhat of a loyal following from what I’ve heard, so my expectations were high.
The clearly laid out menu, which consists of primarily of buns and rice bowls. The service was fast and efficient, with the stall accepting cards and cash. Everything looked clean and organised, but the stall doesn’t have anywhere to stand or lean on to eat the food. They did have some folding ledges, but they weren’t in use when we visited. As an aside, the number of seagulls seems to have increased at the market recently, so I still don’t dare leave the confines of the stalls with food.
I went for the chicken katsu bun which cost £4.50 and although it’s a little difficult to judge from the photo, it is relatively small so they needed to deliver on quality if not quantity. The bun had the appropriate light texture, with the chicken being cooked well and crispy on the exterior. The sauce wasn’t particularly punchy and I couldn’t taste any pickled ginger, so there wasn’t much depth of taste to the whole arrangement. Using the comparison of other stalls on the market, the prices were also towards the higher end of the scale, although not entirely unreasonable.
Trying to be as positive as I can, but I can’t say that my high expectations were met here. JD Wetherspoon, who aren’t necessarily a bastion of food quality, sell bao buns now at half the price charged here and their quality I have to regretfully note as better with a wider range of flavours and tastes. James ordered the same as me so I can’t comment separately, although I wondered if perhaps the pork bun might have worked a little better for me as that seemed to have some stronger tasting ingredients.
However, the stall was busy and they’re clearly surprising and delighting customers on a regular basis. I can’t say that I was ever particularly bowled over with bao buns when I was in China, but I did have higher expectations from this stall. At some stage we’ll revisit all of the stalls and I think that I’ll opt for something like the chicken katsu curry which might have a greater depth of flavour. Hopefully I’ll get to visit them again soon, as I’m always ready to find a different menu item which I might fall in love with.