It’s December and I’m in a Festive mood. I wanted a change from my awful home cooked meals and Popeye’s Chicken. I decided to try a few meal kits. I ordered one box from all the services that are available in Canada to try them (except Goodfood; more about that later).
I’ll be honest, I was skeptical about their service at first. I’ve tried the meal kits from Longo’s and I wasn’t impressed. The pasta needed seasoning and the Indian food was bland. What got me excited was the option to buy boxes from local restaurants. I ordered 2 boxes from 2 different restaurants. Each box serves 2 people.
I assumed that it would arrive the next day, but the delivery was scheduled for a day after. On the second day, I got a call at 9 am from the delivery lady asking me to meet her in the lobby of my building because she’s not authorized to deliver to my door (which, to be fair, is mentioned on the website). So at 9 am, I groggily reached for my parka and headed to the lobby. Turns out, she had left the boxes with my concierge!
(Sidebar: As one of my friends said, the best thing about WFH is that you just roll out of bed to your desk at 9 am and begin working. And if you live in a tiny apartment in the city, that’s literally what you’d do.)
Box 1: Handheld Doubles from Patois
I’d heard of Patois from my friends and I never got around to ordering from them. Patois is a Caribbean-Asian restaurant in Downtown Toronto. For this order, I picked their Doubles Kit which contained 4 Bara (fried flat bread), 2 tiny packets of diced Cucumber, Chickpea Masala and 3 sauces – Cucumber Chow, Pineapple Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce and Tamarind sauce.
I decided to have the doubles for breakfast since I was already up and in no mood to eat cereal. The breads were packaged in parchment paper branded with the restaurants logo which I thought was cute. The instruction sheet suggested heating the breads in the oven and the Chickpea Masala in the microwave. The lazy person that I am, I just heated a pan and toasted the breads in it. I don’t recommend it, but it doesn’t ruin the dish either. After that, it was fairly simple to assemble the dish.
But here’s the twist in the tale. I guess “twist” would be too dramatic a word; a pseudo-twist. I first sampled the doubles without adding the sauces and the dish was bland. I overcompensated for the blandness by dumping the hot sauce, the chow sauce and the tamarind sauce into the curry. Bad idea. What I hadn’t realized was that the chow sauce is spicy and the tamarind sauce wasn’t sweet enough to balance the two spicy sauces. Needles to say, It cleared my sinuses in a minute.
But once I added the sauces, I loved the dish. It was tangy, fresh and spicy. I ate the Chickpea Masala curry with some plain Yogurt to balance the heat. I should’ve added a dash of lemon to completely balance the flavors.
Here’s a quick overview of the box from Patois.
- The box was well wrapped and sealed and the Cucumber pre-cut
- Easy to assemble. Took me all of 10 minutes to assemble
- The only issue I faced was of too much curry and not enough bread
- The instruction sheet’s wasn’t printed properly. Luckily. none of the text was affected. But it’s Covid-times so I’ll let that slide
- A bit more detail about the sauces in the instruction sheet would’ve been nice. I probably wouldn’t have dumped the sauces into the curry
Box 2: Union Chicken’s Piri Piri Chicken & Herb Roasted Potatoes
I was excited about this box. I’ve passed by Union Chicken while transiting through the station between GO and TTC. I was eyeing this restaurant’s and Momofuku Noodle Bar’s Ramen boxes. Unfortunately, Momofuku didn’t have any Chicken or Veggie Boxes.
This box included pre-marinated Chicken, pre-dressed potatoes, as well as mixed salad, sweet mayonnaise and spiced seeds for the Coleslaw. The Chicken, Potatoes and Slaw were vacuum sealed. I love the design of the instruction sheet which included a list of prerequisites like tools needed and additional ingredients required. The instructions were clear and well laid out on the sheet.
When I began cooking, I realized that I didn’t have a roasting tray or a pan, so I rigged one with a cookie sheet and some foil. It takes about 35 minutes for the chicken and 35 minutes for the potatoes. I baked the chicken and potatoes together in two separate shelves for 45 minutes, which probably wasn’t a good idea. I have a tiny oven and 45 minutes weren’t enough for the potatoes. I probably should’ve moved the potatoes to the top and kept them in the oven longer. It was just about done when I decided to remove it from the oven.
And the chicken. O…M…G. When I opened the packaging for the chicken, the smell of the spices wafted to my nose. And the Piri Piri basting sauce… heavenly. I basted the chicken twice with the sauce. I should’ve kept the chicken in longer too, I like a bit more color on the chicken.
The slaw was amazing too – the spiced seeds gives the cold slaw a hit of flavor. All in all, this was a good choice. All I needed was a nice cold beer to accompany this dish.
Here’s the only problem I have with the dish – I hate skin and I hate carving. I didn’t realize that the chicken piece had skin on it. And even if I did, I have no idea how to remove the skin. The piece of chicken was huge – almost half a chicken – which meant that I struggled to carve the chicken. If I could have it my way, I would’ve loved it if they’d just cut the chicken into smaller pieces separating the wings, breast and leg. That would’ve also provided more surface area for the lovely sauce to coat the pieces.
Here’s a quick overview of the box from Union Chicken.
- The box was well wrapped and sealed and the salad pre-cut
- Easy to cook. The Piri Piri sauce is a must try; I’m considering purchasing it from their restaurant
- As mentioned before, I wish the piece was cut into smaller pieces
Final thoughts on PCChef (with a focus on restaurant boxes):
- They have various types of boxes – one pan dishes, restaurant boxes, family boxes, etc. While I love their restaurant boxes, I still haven’t tried the meal kits and boxes that PCChef make
- It’s not a subscription service. So you don’t have to keep track of your deliveries. This is also perfect when (someday) you decide to have guests over for dinner
- They don’t offer next day delivery
- Lots of plastic waste. The caveat here is that the packaging is at the restaurant’s discretion and I’m not sure how much PC has control over it
- Not many veggie and chicken options for the restaurant boxes
- This is not a service you’d use for every day meals. Restaurant food is high in calories and I don’t think many people would want to eat restaurant food every day
Rating: 8/10. I recommend the restaurant kits
I’ve subscribed to Goodfood intermittently for more than a year. When I first ordered boxes from Goodfood I loved the service. They would send fresh produce and their recipes were unique. I remember cooking Shrimp Bao and it turned out amazing. Over the year though, the recipes seem to be standard fare, the quality of the produce has declined and I started getting awful cystic acne breakouts every time I ate their chicken dishes. The breakouts would subside once I stopped eating their chicken dishes. Keep in mind, after I would stop eating their dishes with chicken, I would sometimes eat Popeye’s or Chicken Teriyaki from Subway and I never faced any issues. That being said, I like the shrimp dishes – they always turn out great. And all their packaging is recyclable, which I love.