Thai taste tempts customers back
At business partners Nopporn ‘Tory’ Smith’s and Alan Hewitt’s Bury St Edmunds market stall, near the Buttermarket war memorial, they prepare most of the food as you wait so they can tailor the spiciness to your taste.
Cooking on site also means dishes, like the noodle-based Pad Thai, can be vegetarian versions. In fact, the green curry is made without chicken so it can be served as a vegetarian dish but chicken can be added for those who want it.
Their best sellers are the home made spring rolls, partly because they are portable food, though the stall has a table and chairs for those who prefer to sit and eat.
Alan says some people ask what milder dishes they do, especially for children.
“The Massaman beef curry is very mild and a lot of children like that,” he said. “The Massaman is slow cooked and its prepared at home so the meat is tender – by the end of the day it’s even more tender.”
With beef, potatoes and onions in a sauce made with coconut milk, it is mild but tasty (ardy-d means ‘tasty’).
The stall, which started on Ely market about 18 months ago, has only been in Bury market regularly since October but they had made the occasional visit to see if the town’s market goers had a taste for Thai.
Alan said: “Probably 70 per cent of our customers are American – both here and at Ely. They love Thai food and they’re the ones who like it as hot as they can get it.
“They’re probably more adventurous than the English.
“Some people do have tunnel vision. They only go to the same stalls and they don’t try anything new.
“We know people want it because our regulars come back week after week.
“It makes a change from a burger.”
He says one problem on the markets, apart from the weather affecting demand, is a constant flow of new food stalls who open up, take trade for a few weeks then disappear as customers stop coming back.
Alan and Tory believe quality matters and is something that helps them create repeat customers.
“Our profit margin is very low because we use all the best ingredients, the Thai ingredients, and you can only charge so much,” Alan said. “But it’s nice to have people keep coming back.”