From Romanian mici to Malaysian curry, Chinese noodles or British carvery: A tour of the tastes of Romford Market
- Credit: Melissa Page
Established by a Royal Charter almost 800 years ago, Romford Market has been a key centre of trade and community for the town and surrounding area for a long time.
Initially a sheep market, it continues to undergo a series of iterations as it adapts to the ever-changing world around it.
Among the traders regularly pitching up are a host of takeaway food stalls on-hand to keep customers well-fed as they peruse the market’s wares.
To give you a figurative taste of what is on offer, we embarked on a tour one Friday to see what culinary options Romford Market has to offer.
Johny Romanian BBQ
Johny, Addy and Michaela Costas have just recently started their Romanian barbeque stall in Romford Market.
Describing their style as “traditional Romanian”, the team told this newspaper the food is popular in eastern Europe and is different to other options available in the market.
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The jewel in their culinary crown is a type of food called mici, which is similar to kofta.
On what the stall brings to Romford, Addy said: “It’s quick, and it also brings a sense of home.”
Just Eat’s Street Food
Stevie Hayes, owner of Just Eat’s Street Food, has been coming to Romford Market for around three years.
With a menu including burgers, hot drinks, wraps and carvery options, Stevie said they are “trying to go for a bit of a café culture feel”.
Key to this, she added, is the customer base she has managed to cultivate over the years.
“It’s nice to talk and eat with the people that come,” she said.
Offering a combined Malaysian and Chinese culinary experience, Yum Yum by Kxian Lau is a relative newcomer to the market which set up five months ago.
Customers can pick up a host of treats from Yum Yum including buns, curry and various noodle and rice dishes.
Kxian said he has found the market “good for regular customers”.
He said the Malaysia chicken curry and kong po sweet chilli chicken are favourites among market-goers.
Kells Street Kitchen
Paul and Kelly Grace said when they first started selling their dishes at Romford Market five years ago, they wanted to try and offer something different.
Initially not selling traditional burgers, they instead offered alternatives such as halloumi or steak in a variety of buns, only adding classic burgers due to demand from customers.
Another big part of the van's offering is its use of local ingredients.
“With our food, we wanted to support our local butcher,” Paul said. “Also, everything is sourced locally.”
Paul said the van has its regulars, which he and Kelly have worked hard to build up.
“It’s nice to see their faces when they are enjoying their food.”
A long-time regular of Romford, Ruth Cook’s Snack Wagon is everything you would want a market café to be.
Attending for a total of 12 years, the van provides a range of food and drink options from burgers to sandwiches and coffees and teas.
As with the other café-esque spots, it is clear the Snack Wagon has its own set of customers, sat drinking tea under a gazebo next to the van.
“There’s definitely a community,” said Ruth.
Snuck around the back of the market, down towards Co-op bank, is a food stall specialising specifically in Chinese cuisine; Wokabout.
Run by David Long, Wokabout has been selling from the market for around 16 years.
Set up by a friend of David’s, he ended up taking it over to run it on his own.
Selling a range of noodle and curry dishes plus drinks, David said the stall “always has regulars” who come from “all walks of life”.
He also takes Wokabout to Colchester University, although its home is undoubtedly in Romford Market.