Newly launched home delivery kit brings Thai street food to your table this month – what’s next?
Home By Nico is a home delivery meal kit with bells on. It is delivered in a gorgeous and enormous box which opens onto a professionally packed and high-quality interior, all fully recyclable. I have tried out sufficient numbers of these new schemes over the past months to appreciate the differing quality of the packaging and branding as much as the food itself. In this way, it reminds me of how the bricks and mortar restaurants too, differ so much from one another. A full-colour brochure with beautiful photographs of Bangkok and images of the meal and preparation instructions accompanied a Home By Nico menu card which further enhanced the feeling of being in the restaurant.
Six by Nico is a chain of restaurants from Scottish chef and entrepreneur, Nico Simeone, that has rolled out from Glasgow via Edinburgh, Belfast, Manchester and Liverpool and more recently to London (check out our review of Six by Nico, Charlotte Street). It takes its name from the concept of set 6-course meals which it serves at the restaurant for £35. The fine-dining menu changes every 6 weeks.
Home By Nico is designed to change on a monthly basis and will traverse the globe as suggested by the packaging which sports a map of the world. The theme of the first month is Bangkok, Thai Street Food. A four-course meal with a bottle of wine whisks home diners from their tables to the bustling street food markets themselves. The restaurant provides the food and diners participate with their imagination.
The meal requires minimal preparation which will be a relief to many who want to get restaurant-quality food on their tables without having to play chef. This is a gig that requires no skill beyond warming up dishes, scattering over garnishes and doing a little light roasting.
We began with Tom Yum Soup with prawn dumplings. This dish will be well known to those who enjoy Thai cooking as it is a very popular hot and sour soup. Tom refers to the boiling process while Yam (or yum) means mixed. It includes galangal, lime juice or tamarind, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, fish sauce and chillis. The soup had that pleasing balance of spicy, salty, sour and sweet flavours which burst onto the palate. The three prawn dumplings were firm and meaty and contributed to the starter being quite filling.
The wine pairing with Home by Nico, 2018 Le Sentier, Gascogne was very well selected as it provided a refreshing foil to the punchy spicy as well as sweet flavours of the food.
The main course was Panang chicken curry. It required simple preparation with the chicken legs being roasted for 20 minutes. At this point, the well-browned chicken was served along with its sweet and creamy sauce and pak choi, baby corn and cubes of sweet potato. Curry might suggest that this dish too would be spicy but Panang is one of the mildest of the Thai curries. It is both sweet and rich with coconut milk. The chicken was tender and well portioned along with the veg which made for a colourful and satisfying plate.
The curry was served with a side dish of steamed jasmine rice which was aromatic with lemongrass, lime leaf, chilli and coriander. A second side dish of crispy pork pad thai with rice noodle had me in two minds. I think that pad thai could be served as a course on its own rather than a side dish with curry. But moreover, served cold, it acts like a salad dish which for me does not suit pad thai, with chunks of crispy pork. The dish might work better served warm, with the pork crisped briefly in a hot pan. The cold pork in this pad thai had lost its crispness and reduced the quality of the overall dish. Still, the rice noodles and vegetables were fresh and colourful and the slices of chilli and spring onion ensured a lip zinging experience along with a tangy prik nam pla dressing – prik meaning chilli and nam pla meaning fish sauce. Further flavour and texture was provided by the roasted peanuts and crispy shallots scattered on top of the pad thai.
By this stage, we were too full for dessert and had to take a break before attempting the rice pudding. If seated in the restaurant itself, I would have ordered a light, fruit-based dessert, but no doubt others are able to eat dumplings followed by rice and noodles for their main course and cope with further carbs for dessert. Be reassured all hungry diners – this is a very filling meal indeed. And of course, the advantage of dining at home with a menu from Home by Nico is that you can simply leave the dessert course for another day.
Coconut and cardamom rice pudding had a wonderful cardamom flavour and was topped with generous shavings of coconut. It was thick and creamy. As if that is not tasty or sweet enough, there was a quite fabulous salted caramel sauce which melted into the warm rice. And to top it all, a slightly tart, tropical fruit compote. It all combined into a sweet, tart, creamy mouthful. We polished off the sizeable portions. This is the kind of dessert after which one should go for a walk but instead flops onto the sofa for a lie-down.
I doubt that many people could manage a cheese course after all this food and we delayed the final offering until the following day. Respect to those who could finish all four courses in one sitting. I admit to feeling somewhat perplexed by the fourth course being cheese and crackers along with homemade chutney. I am not aware that Thai cuisine offers a cheese course, as I have always understood Thai cuisine to be largely lactose-free. But, I love cheese so was not in the least bit disappointed.
The cheese itself was Landana 500 days, a Dutch Gouda which, while tasty, bears no relation to the theme of the meal. The pineapple and nigella seed chutney was very pleasing and the Stag Stornoway crackers were amongst the finest water crackers I have eaten. I will certainly be buying these Good Taste Award crackers in place of the variety I usually buy for my cheeseboards.
Home By Nico is well priced at £60 for a generously portioned, tasty meal that includes a bottle of wine and delivery. That is very good value. Vegetarian and vegan options are available to order. The home delivery scheme is part of Home-X, a company established to deliver different products from the Home By Nico range. Delivery is available nationwide on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday of each week, though you’ll need to be around to accept the food as it is fresh and can’t be returned to the depot.
A good meal, relaxing in one’s own home is the new going out to eat and we must be grateful that restaurants have stepped up to the plate to provide us with ongoing food adventures. Our job is to support them through the current crisis so that the bricks and mortar experiences will still be there when the pandemic is behind us. I have a suspicion that when that time comes, the home delivery meal kits will have become so popular that they may continue as a sideline to the main business of many restaurants.