Friday, January 15, 2010

My first Menulog experience - Chop Chop

Chop Chop via Menulog

Menulog is a web-based company that essentially allows you to order food online. All you do is type in your postcode and you can then see what restaurants/eateries in the region are happy to deliver to your home. You can then place the order and make the payment through Menulog itself, sit back, relax and wait.

I was contacted by a lady from Menulog recently with the offer of placing a discount code on this blog. Well, the certainly piqued a bit of interest. Over the holidays, I have become the epitome of laziness and I shouldn't have to explain how the idea of restaurant food delivered to my door appealed to me.

In the past, I've done searches for deliver to my area but not many are willing to go to such lengths. Ah, the perils of not owning a car (or even having a license).

When I typed in my postcode in Menulog, only 1 result came up. Unfortunate but I guess because Brisbane is spread out and also, just generally lacking in the food department when compared with Melbourne or Sydney, it wasn't totally unexpected. I was not deterred and felt rather glad that there was at least something I could test out.

The search brought up Chop Chop which coincidentally is right near where I'm living at the moment. By chance though, on the day that I decided to order the food, I happened to be at another location a few suburbs away which lead to a delivery charge (small charge but still, could've been avoided had I just stayed at home).

The best part of ordering online to me is clicking through the menu offerings and ticking and checking. It's the same kind of thrill that lends shopping on eBay an edge of excitement over simply browsing through the mall. A little thrill but amusing all the same.

I was really keen and placed my order at 10:15am. As with most delivery services, there was a minimum spend of $25 for me, excluding the delivery charge of $4. I ended up going over that anyway with the choice of 2 dishes (a beef and a pork) with a small serving of special fried rice and a fried ice-cream.

Yes, that's correct... fried ice-cream.

I chose it based on 2 reasons: a) I adore fried ice-cream and b) wouldn't you also be curious as to how it would work as a takeaway/delivered item?!?

When I confirmed my order online, I was told that the meal would arrive at 12noon.

Chop Chop opened at 11am and I got an SMS half an hour later saying that my meal would come at 12:45.

This was slightly disappointing but truth be told, I wasn't exactly hungry - it was more the anticipation of a home-delivered meal that kept my heart racing.

At around 12:20, there came a knock on the door. It was the food delivery man and he had a neatly tied up plastic bag full of goods just for me. The food was produced from an esky and a quick peak revealed that there were at least several other deliveries in there i.e. I was not alone in my desire for catered living.

Deep-fried ice-cream with chocolate topping

The first thing I did was unravel the fried ice-cream. To my disappointment (and expectations), I can now confirm that fried ice-cream is not made to be eaten away from the site of frying. It's what logic tells us - the batter is crisp and hot. The ice-cream interior is cold. Hot + cold + time = pool of molten ice-cream with a soggy batter around it.

Ok, if I'm to be completely honest, it still tasted good. In a way, sweetened creamy liquid with fried sponge cake will never taste bad no matter how gooey or unaesthetic it becomes. I ate my puddle with glee.

Plated out for myself

Next, I brought my attention to the savory dishes. I decided against eating straight out of the boxes for the sake of this blog. Being Miss Civilized for the day, I dished out a portion of each offering into a plate. Pretty?

Pork rib in plum sauce

The pork was one of their house recommendations. The plum sauce is very powerful and sweet. The pork itself is quite tender and the batter is soft with a crispy exterior (just as you want it). I wouldn't be able to eat the pork pieces on their own because the flavor is so intense but with rice, it's quite nice.

Satay beef

I chose the satay beef because I still haven't gotten over the amazing satay noodles from Satay Hut. Unfortunately, this was not that. The beef was unbelievably tender and the satay sauce itself was quite moreish and went well with rice but overall, it tasted homely rather than outstanding.

I was a bit disappointed with the special fried rice. Whilst there was a distinct proportion of 'goodies' i.e. pieces of meat, seafood and veggies, the rice itself was a bit dry. Also, my favorite part of fried rice is the omelet and egg was distinctly missing in this version (sort of blended into the rice as opposed to cooked separately and broken into pieces to be mixed in). It's a fried rice that I only thought was good for accompanying the other dishes but too bland to be eaten on its own.

On the whole, I was really pleased with my home-delivery experience. Sure, the dishes weren't blow-me-away restaurant cuisine but they were tasty and reliable. The serving sizes were quite huge... I actually got 3 meals out of this lot. I LOVED the fact that I could order online and know I was getting a full meal without stepping outside of my house.

In my opinion, more restaurants should jump on board with the whole e-delivery thing.

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