Be your own chef at home

The latest salvo in the arsenal of restaurants to cover the shortfall in business during the circuit breaker period is DIY meal kits.

Unlike with takeaway and delivery where the dishes are ready to eat, customers are expected to finish the cooking themselves at home with these kits.

This way, they get to enjoy freshly whipped-up restaurant fare – and take pride in playing a part in its completion.

The eatery provides the ingredients – already measured out – and takes care of difficult things like pastes, marinades and sauces. They are not about to disclose the entire recipe, after all.

The diner follows simple instructions for the final cooking steps on the stove or in the oven.

Among the latest to offer such kits is Italian restaurant Amo in Hongkong Street. It launched three pizza kits priced from $20 to $28 and four pasta kits priced from $16.40 to $18.60 two weeks ago.

Another Italian restaurant, Buona Terra in Scotts Road, also launched pasta kits two weeks ago, with housemade fresh pastas at $8 and a kit with a choice of pasta and sauce costing $32 to $38.

Bar Cicheti near Keong Saik Road also sells three DIY pasta meals priced from $15 to $21, while Open Farm Community in Dempsey has three pastas priced from $29.96 to $34.30.

Pasta kits seem to be the most popular because they are easy to put together and diners can customise the flavours by adding their own ingredients to the sauce.

But some Asian restaurants have dishes that can be cooked easily too. Eurasian restaurant Quentin’s, for example, sells Cook-It-Yourself kits of its popular dishes such as chicken curry devil ($20.80). And Ajumma’s Korean Restaurant has dishes such as army base stew ($17.90) and beef kalbi ($17.90).

Fairmont Singapore offers dishes from tandoori lamb chops ($38) to veal ossobucco ($42).

Other restaurants with DIY kits include Morton’s The Steakhouse, Preludio and Summer Hill, which recently launched single-serving kits on top of its regular family-size meals.

AMO’S PIZZA KIT


PHOTO: IL LIDO GROUP

Price: $20 for San Marzano tomato sauce with a $7 delivery fee.

How to order: Go to amorestaurant.sg/pizzakit

What it includes: Amo’s signature slow-fermented dough, tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella cheese and a bit of extra virgin olive oil and flour for dusting.

Equipment needed: A 12-inch pizza pan or frying pan and a convection oven.

What you need to do: The kit comes with an instruction card with a QR code. Scanning it takes you to the restaurant’s website with more detailed instructions and a very useful video tutorial.

If you have kids at home, they will love shaping the dough and exercising their creativity with toppings. In fact, this can be turned into a fun family activity.

The pizza can be cooked on the stove before going into the oven or baked all the way in the oven.

But I had a problem. I did not have the required 12-inch pan and made do with a 9-inch pie dish instead. The result was that the pizza got too thick in the middle and tasted doughy. In hindsight, I should have used only three-quarters of the ingredients.

You have to come up with your own toppings.

I used cherry tomatoes and salami, which went very well with the delicious tomato sauce.

I also tried Amo’s pappardelle pasta with truffle sauce and mushrooms ($18). That was even easier and turned out perfect.

The verdict: Easy to prepare but results could have been better with the right equipment. 

3.5/5 stars

BUONA TERRA’S HOME COOKING SERIES

Price: $32 to $38 depending on sauce. Delivery fee of $10 to $20 depending on distance.

How to order: Go to buonaterra.com.sg/menu and click on “view takeaway menu”. Call 6733-0209 or 9456-3147 to order.

Or go to buonaterra.oddle.me (minimum order of $50 and islandwide delivery fee of $8).

What it includes: Fresh housemade pasta wrapped in paper, sauce in a glass container and small bags of rock salt and extra virgin olive oil.

Equipment needed: A pot for boiling pasta and a pan for heating up sauce.

What you need to do: The kit comes with a card listing the ingredients and a QR code. Scan the code to view an instructional video by chef Denis Lucchi.

This shows the steps: Cook the pasta in boiling water with the rock salt. Heat up the sauce in the pan, add the cooked pasta and the olive oil, stir and plate.

You have a choice of housemade pasta from tagliolini, tagliatelle and pappardelle. Sauces are Amatriciana Style ($32), Al Pesto ($32) and Crab And Fresh Sicilian Tomato ($38).

The verdict: Cooking is a no-brainer after you watch the video. I matched tagliolini with the crab and tomato sauce, and though I am no chef, it was as good as eating it in a restaurant.

4.5/5 stars

OPEN FARM COMMUNITY’S DIY KIN YAN ORGANIC MUSHROOM TORTELLINI


ST PHOTOS: WONG AH YOKE

Price: $34.30, delivery charge according to distance.

How to order: Go to shop.openfarmcommunity.com

What it includes: Twelve tortellini, a big packet of mushroom sauce and small packets of mushroom “bacon”, olive oil, salt and cheese.

Equipment needed: Pot for boiling pasta and a wide frying pan.

What you need to do: The kit comes with a printed card of instructions. Read it before you start cooking because there are a couple of things to note.

First, there is a warning not to use all the seasoning in the kit because the restaurant has packed more than you need. Second, the “mushroom bacon” used as a garnish in the last step needs to be reheated to get it crisp. So that should be the first thing to do.

The verdict: Once you’ve taken note of the two things I pointed out, cooking is a snap. The mushroom sauce is delicious.

4/5 stars

LEVEL33’S STEAK WITH PEPPER SAUCE KIT


ST PHOTOS: WONG AH YOKE

Price: $18. Delivery charge of $15, free for orders of $80 and above.

How to order: Go to shop-level33.company.site or WhatsApp 8511-4613.

What it includes: A 200g piece of raw steak marinated with soya sauce and koji paste in a sealed bag (choice of sirloin, ribeye or tenderloin), black pepper sauce, mixed salad and balsamic dressing.

Equipment needed: A frying pan and a small pot.

What you need to do: Instructions can be found on the e-shop website. Cooking the beef is easy. Just sear it on the pan, then let it rest for five minutes. Warm up the pepper sauce in the pot and either use it to glaze the cooked steak or serve separately.

Dress the salad with the balsamic sauce and dinner is ready.

LeVeL33 has a big range of DIY kits separated into meats, seafood, pastas and salads.

The verdict: I followed the steps to the letter and the dish turned out rather nice. For some reason, the beef was medium rare on one end and medium on the other though it was of even thickness. The flavour was good.

4.5/5 stars 

QUENTIN’S COOK-IT-YOURSELF CHICKEN CURRY DEVIL

Price: $20.80. Delivery charge calculated at checkout. Free islandwide delivery for orders over $80.

How to order: Go to quentins.com.sg

What it includes: A sealed bag of chicken pieces, cocktail sausages and bacon bones marinated in curry spice mix; a bag of potatoes; a bag of cabbage, cucumber and chilli padi; and a small bag of fried ginger julienne.

Equipment needed: A big pot.

What you need to do:The bag comes with a printed sheet of six simple steps.

You empty everything into the pot with water, bring it to a boil, simmer, season, plate and garnish with the ginger julienne.

But when I followed the instructions, the result was not good. The curry was too watery, among other things. So instead of adding 300 to 400ml of water, put 200ml first. If the gravy gets too thick, you can add more water during the cooking.

Also, five minutes of simmering is too short unless you like your cabbage crunchy. I’d say leave it on the stove for at least 15 to 20 minutes.

Quentin’s also sells cook-it-yourself kits for other Eurasian dishes such as Prawn Bostador ($20.80) and Porku Tambreyno ($18.80). You can get a set of three for $49.50.

The verdict: Cooking the dish is easy, but it did not look ready when I followed the instructions. However, with more time on the stove, it turned out pretty decent. It wasn’t the best curry devil I’ve eaten, but its sweat-inducing spiciness hits the spot.

3/5 stars

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