WITH reports suggesting Chinese food has overtaken fish and chips as the nation’s go to takeaway Katrina Szewc is definitely riding its wave of popularity.

For the past six months she has been keeping fans of oriental cuisine happy with her mobile kitchen, Hi-yah Noodle Bar.

Starting out at boot sales, the van is now regularly attending food festivals and family events, including the recent Basildon carnival, and serving up flavours Katrina perfected during her time living in Hong Kong and China.

Of Chinese heritage, she had been living with family in the city of Dongguan in the central Guangdong Province of South China when she had the idea of bringing her knowledge back to England.

“I was a baker before that and I was always experimenting with flavours and ideas and being a quarter Chinese myself I wanted to do something that would give people a real flavour of what I had been eating in China and Hong Kong,” she explains.

This lead to taking a selection of the family cuisine and developing it into a series of dishes she could take out with her in the noodle bar.

“As soon as we went out to the bootsales the customers were really up for it.

“I had read in an article that Chinese food had taken over from fish and chips in the past year as the best selling take away food and I really wanted to capitalise on that.”

The mouth-watering menu served up by Hi-yah Noodle Bar is headed up by a large selection of chow mein dishes.

“There is duck and chicken, spring rolls, chicken balls and crispy Chinese duck.

“We also have vegan and vegetarian options as well as gluten free as these are the dietary requirements people are now asking for.”

Tokko Joi, which includes pak choi, carrots, bean sprouts, chinese cabbage, far east wine, sesame oil and soy sauce is a hit with vegans while there is also a shellfish option for seafood fans.

Children of the late ‘70s and ‘80s, and enthusiasts of cult viewing, might spot the references to the classic show Monkey, or Monkey Magic.

Katrina named the mobile noodle van in reference to the show and one of its main character Trippi Tarka.

“He was the character you were not ever sure if they were a boy or a girl.

“I named one of the dishes after Trippi Tarka as well, Trippi Tarka Surprise and I tried to inject a bit of humour in all of the names of the dishes, to grab customers’ attention too I suppose,” she says.

The Trippi Tarka Surprise, or Emperor’s Banquet, is a large portion of stir fried chicken and duck served with noodles.

Response to the van and its dishes have been hugely positive and Katrina says things really began to take off following their appearance at the Colchester Food and Drink Festival in Castle Park last month.

As things took off she invested in a trailer to go with the van and this has enabled her to expand the numfer of events.

“We have been to Basildon Carnival and also we did events a Canvey Island and a charity event for the Mayor of Colchester,” says Katrina who lives in the High Woods area of the town.

They have also recently appeared at the Festival of Wheels at Barleylands in Billericay.

“It is all made fresh, with fresh good quality produce and I think that is what the customers really like.

“The entire menu is dairy free too which again I think people like.

“They are looking to be as healthy as possible and the way we cook this fits in with that.”