Author’s Blurb: I’m only able to cook very simple dishes, but one of the biggest pain points (and the reason why I’ve stopped cooking) is buying ingredients when I’m cooking only for one or two. Usually one round of grocery shopping can last me several weeks, but by the time I’m finishing up my fresh ingredients they’re no longer so fresh. But I’m forced to finish them anyway.
This is the exact issue that B2C meal kit deliveries seek to solve, along with the other issues of needing to find time to go grocery shopping and preparing your fresh ingredients before cooking.
Meal kit deliveries essentially deliver fresh, pre-measured raw ingredients to users, along with appropriate recipes.
Chef’ Up is a newer player on the scene, but founder Kumar is confident that he would not make the same mistakes they did back then, one of which was simply being a solution that Malaysians weren’t prepared for yet.
Now, he believes, is the time for meal kit deliveries to shine. Will this ring true in our office of millennials and Gen Zs?
We tried out one of their meal kits for ourselves to see.
Disclaimer: We received a box containing ingredients and a recipe for their bestselling Kam Heong chicken by the Chef’ Up team themselves, so we could only review the product and not the delivery service itself.
When we opened the chilled box, it was immediately apparent that the raw ingredients had indeed been freshly bought.
For the chicken meat, it had already been cleaned (though you can still choose to trim off the tiny bit of extra fat or veins like we did), so all we had to do was dice it as the dish called for.
Everything was packed neatly, and each ingredient that was listed on the recipe could be found.
Even the cooking oil and sauces were provided in the necessary amounts.
With these, we didn’t need to measure anything, so we could immediately get started on prepping the sauces by dumping them all into a bowl and mixing it up.
We also split the work and had one person dicing the meat, another chopping up the onion, garlic and chillis, and another person mixing the dried shrimp in some water and mixing the sauces.
In reality, we probably didn’t need so many people doing prep, but because colleagues were lingering curiously around us in the office pantry, we decided to put them to work.
Prepping was relatively easy and there was practically no food waste, which was nice to see.
We also didn’t have to store that extra onion halve or garlic cloves that you’d usually have when cooking in the refrigerator with the excuse of storing it for another cooking day that would never come.
Let’s Get Cooking
To be honest, after we were done with preparations, I realised that I had expected it to be much faster.
Granted, we didn’t have to do too much of the work that comes with food prep when you buy raw ingredients from the supermarket, but it still took quite a bit of time.
One thing that I wished the recipe would have told me was how much total time making the meal (from prepping to serving) would actually require.
Maybe then I could put the duration of our preparation down to just how slow we were, otherwise, I would say that the preparation still takes a while, so if you’re looking for a quick, easy meal, meal kits might not be your first choice.
But anyway, onto the cooking!
We mostly had a pretty small electric stove and a not-so-big non-stick pan at our disposal, so we thought the best course of action here was to split the initial chicken frying into several batches.
(Or maybe we’re just really bad cooks and don’t know how to fry cubes of chicken.)
Of course, frying in batches only extended the cooking time all the more, and once the frying was done, we still had to add in the other ingredients and sauces to the mix and stir-fry it all.
Overall, we took about 1 hour (or slightly more) to cook up Kam Heong chicken for two.
Not bad, as my personal record of cooking anything that’s not pasta or instant noodles is also about 1 hour.
In my opinion, I spent a little too long on dicing the chicken (thanks to my colleagues who kept telling me to dice them smaller), which didn’t look like much when it was pre-diced.
Perhaps if you were to order a meatless dish the prep would be much faster, since vegetables are much easier to cut, in my opinion.
But Did It Taste Good Though
At the end of all this, we know you’re wondering, “Did it taste good at all?”
Thankfully, it did. I haven’t eaten too much Kam Heong chicken in my life, but every other colleague who saw it said it looked pretty good, and upon tasting it would say that it tasted really good.
As someone unfamiliar with the dish, it tasted damn good to me too.
I’m crediting this to the Chef’ Up team who undoubtedly had done their research on the best recipes they could provide for each dish.
It doesn’t matter how fresh or awesome your ingredients are—you use one wrong recipe and it all becomes a disappointment in the end.
For a meal that could feed 2 pax to the brim (and 3 if you’re all smaller eaters), at RM23, I would say that it’s a decent price.
This recipe didn’t come with rice, so if you cooked it you’d have to cook your own rice too, or tapao it like we did.
Would I do all this again, whether with this recipe or another?
I would, but definitely not for my daily meals. I’d do it for special meals like cooking with friends, family or a partner, but as most days I eat on my own, the effort still needed to prep and cook the meals just isn’t worth it.
Based on our experience, I would say that the people who would make the ideal target customers for Chef’ Up would be couples looking for a more unique cooking experience together.
With it coming in a box, it definitely feels like a gift and more special than just grabbing stuff out of your refrigerator or pantry to cook.
If you’re someone who likes trying something different and there’s enough people like you out there, I’d say that Chef’ Up has a decent chance at surviving now with this business model that failed for many other startups years ago.
Bottom Line: This was actually my first time cooking meat, so I would say I levelled up on this day with Chef’ Up’s help. If I were at the supermarket for groceries, I wouldn’t even look at the meat section. Now go on and ask me why I’ve never cooked meat before, I know you’re curious.
- You can read more about what we’ve written about Chef’ Up here.