Review: HelloFresh Classic Box

I’ve tried produce boxes from Doorstep Organics and Bondi Fruitologist in recent months and am starting to consider myself a bit of a produce box aficionado – whatever that means! Continuing the trend, I got the chance to try a Hello Fresh Classic Box (three meals for two people) last week.

Hello Fresh is a produce box with a difference – rather than simply providing you with an assortment of fruit and vegetables and expecting you to come up with your own recipes, they provide you with everything you could need to create complete meals each night – recipe and ingredients.

It works really well, especially as it means that you don’t have to worry about having to buy additional ingredients every time you try cooking a new meal as long as you have some basics in the pantry (oil, salt, pepper, etc). This means you could save money on your grocery shop, as rather than buying a whole bag of onions, you are simply provided with the single onion you need for a recipe!

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All ingredients provided in the Hello Fresh classic box (three meals worth for two people)

My Hello Fresh box arrived promptly on Monday afternoon, and was waiting for me on my veranda when I got home. A great feature of the box is how careful they are with food safety – the cold items (chicken breast and beef mince) were stored carefully in a Styrofoam box for insulation. All the produce provided was incredibly fresh – and remained so up until Friday when I cooked my last meal. Also in the box was the recipe booklet – colourful, well designed and appealing.

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Apricot glazed chicken and cous cous salad (added figs)

This was the first meal I cooked out of the box, as the cous cous salad appealed to me the most. We use cous cous in our main meals quite often in place of rice, pasta, or other grains – I find that it doesn’t sit as heavily in my stomach after a meal! The simplicity of this salad was really great – cous cous, chickpeas, parsley and red onion with a squeeze of lemon juice. I will probably replicate it in the future, perhaps with the addition of slivered almonds or sultanas for an extra something!

I found that the chicken wasn’t glazed as much as it should have been, although I followed the recipe’s instructions to the letter. In the future, I would probably add to the apricot glaze with a spoonful or two of honey just to ensure that it glazes properly.

I added a fig and a half each to the plate when I plated up the meal, as I kept about half the salad for lunch the next day so portion sizes were smaller. The sweetness of the figs actually worked quite well with both the salad and the chicken.

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Vegetarian gong bao (added beef kebab)

For the next meal, I turned a perfectly lovely vegetarian dish into something not very vegetarian at all, by adding a beef kebab (courtesy of a local butcher) to each plate. I don’t have anything against purely vegetarian meals, however I simply wanted to save a portion of the rice and gong bao for lunch the next day, so needed to supplement what was left!

The gongbao was really delicious. Unfortunately the ‘vegetarian’ part of this meal was a bit boring, as mushrooms were all that were provided. In the future, I would probably replicate the sauce (delicious!), but perhaps add in extra elements like bamboo shoots and capsicum, simply for a change in texture and increased complexity. There was a real chilli punch to this dish, though we only used one bird’s eye chilli!

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Beef burger with beetroot relish (added mango salad)

This was probably the heartiest of all the meals I cooked, a real ‘get your hands dirty’ meal both in terms of the preparation and the consumption. I added a mango salad on the side (simply diced mango with mixed salad leaves with the juice of the mango as a dressing) as the beefiness of the burger was quite overwhelming.

Again, I altered the recipe slightly by adding cheese to the burger, not using all the beetroot relish (I saved half of it to go in a salad the next day), and by adding additional spices to the mince before I turned it into a patty. The final result was really well received by K, who really enjoyed the slight sweetness of the beetroot with the spice of the beef patty in the toasted bun.

Summary

The service is really perfect for the working couple or family with two working parents – who already have some culinary skills. The presumed knowledge in many of the recipes can be quite extensive, and someone who doesn’t know precisely how to prepare beetroot or slice ginger could get a crucial step in the process wrong.

I really enjoyed the meals in my Hello Fresh box. The only thing that stops us from signing up for a weekly service is our personal preference for meals that afford more in the way of leftovers, as we both take lunch to work. I had to work to add an extra element to the meal every night (e.g kebab, salad, figs) to ensure that we could save part of the meal for lunch the next day.

I also really enjoy meal planning and being creative with all the ingredients in my fridge – something that a pre-determined meal box from Hello Fresh doesn’t allow.

There are times though, where I can see us wanting the easy convenience of a Hello Fresh box. The week after we come back from holiday for example – when we haven’t yet had the chance to do a grocery shop to stock up our fridge. Or a week in which we both have extensive extracurricular study commitments or long days in the office, when thinking up a meal is the last thing we want to do at night. I can definitely see us making use of Hello Fresh on an occasional basis into the future.

I’m even thinking of buying a few weeks worth of boxes for my not-quite-mother-in-law as she has a lot of trouble learning how to cook meals for two people, after decades of feeding two sons who have since moved out of home. The controlled portions of Hello Fresh meals might just be the thing to help her learn how to cook for two!

I definitely recommend Hello Fresh for time-poor working professionals who still want the comforts of a home cooked meal and enjoy the process of cooking without the hassle of having to think up recipes or go grocery shopping! I award Hello Fresh an 8.5 out of 10 for freshness, business ingenuity, and diversity of recipes.

Note: I received the Classic Box from HelloFresh free of charge for review purposes. All words and opinions are my own.

Yum Cha Weekends

I went to yum cha for Saturday brunch with a large group of friends late last year.

This isn’t going to be a full review of the restaurant that we went to (Marigold in Sydney Chinatown in case you’re interested). Suffice to say that it does good, simple, honest, Cantonese dim sum, on par with what you might find in a family restaurant in Tuen Mun in the Hong Kong New Territories on a Sunday afternoon. The same kind of yum cha restaurant I went to with my extended family when I visited them in December.

That’s essentially what yum cha boils down to for me – memories of myself as a toddler being cared for by my grandmother in Hong Kong. She was the matriarch of the small close-knit neighborhood in Tuen Mun, and head of the equivalent of the Neighborhood Association. Her husband, my grandfather, had passed away two decades ago and she had raised seven kids single-handedly. They had all moved out and started raising their own families – my father, the youngest, was the only one to remain at home so my grandmother didn’t have to live alone. Hence, I was the only grandchild to live with my grandmother, and being the youngest grandchild with lots of older cousins, I was spoiled and petted by everyone in the family.

As a toddler, when my parents were at work, my grandmother would take me with her to yum cha every day with her friends and the other old people of the neighborhood. We would go to the same restaurant and be served by the same waiter every day. They would bring bowls of tofu pudding on the house, just for me as the only child with a group of elderly women. The women would feed me egg tarts and prawn dumplings. We would spend three hours at lunch, before dropping by the playground so I could go on the swing before we went home.

That whole lifestyle changed when we moved to Australia when I was four. My grandmother stayed in Hong Kong and moved in with my uncle. I never saw her again, as she passed away two years later. I cried for weeks afterwards, and I’m even tearing up now as I write this. I only had four years with her, three of which I can’t even remember as a baby and young child. That’s why the only memories I have of yum cha with my grandmother mean so much to me.

I’m On Holiday!

By the time you read this, I’ll be on holiday! I’m going away to parts of Asia for four weeks. K and I are spending a week in Malaysia (Penang, Kuala Lumpur and K’s family’s hometown of Seremban), a week in Hong Kong and Macau, and two weeks in Vietnam, travelling from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh.

I’m really looking forward to the trip – not only the chance to see both K and my respective extended families, but also just to see some countries I’ve not been to before, like Vietnam. I’m also looking forward to the great street food I’m going to have the opportunity to try!

Malaysian food has recently started becoming more popular in Australia in recent years (due in part to events like the Flavours of Malaysia buffet, and spokespeople like Jackie M), but I hear actual Malaysian street food in Penang is much better. I’m also looking forward to the Portugese-inspired food in Macau, and doing a cooking class in Hoi An in Vietnam – a city famed for its markets.

On a fancier note, we even have an overnight stopover in Singapore that is long enough for us to go to Waku Ghin for dinner, with a menu designed and created by Tetsuya Wakuda himself. It will be our one crazy night in Singapore with a superb gourmet meal.

I look forward to sharing all my food adventures with everyone in January when I return! Until then, please look through the archives and enjoy some of my old entries.