Gousto recipe box review

Everyone wants to eat delicious and healthy food at home, right? But this pesky thing called life often gets in the way. It’s not that easy to throw together an amazing recipe every day and if you don’t cook for a huge group of people, restocking the fridge is a decision that has to be made carefully.

I can’t count the number of times I find a recipe online and proceed to raid my local Tesco for all the necessary ingredients excitedly… and end up with a lot of fresh food that can’t last more than a couple of days. Cooking for one is tough! Luckily, I don’t lead a very hectic university life most of the time but many busy working adults will face an additional struggle to find the energy to buy groceries and prep home-cooked meals after work.

Recipe boxes like Gousto resolves all these issues: ingredients delivered right to your door in the perfect quantities, easy recipes with instructions laid out on cards. Can we get a hell yeah for convenience, no food waste, with a great variety of cuisines, every week?

Presenting…. the Gousto box!

gousto box, gousto, food

ta-daaaa~!

The trial box costs £5.49, which worked out to 4 servings of two different dishes. I chose the chicken cacciatore and the blackened cod tacos.

blackened cod tacos, mexican, food, gousto

Cod tacos

chicken cacciatore, potato, italian, food, gousto

Chicken cacciatore

It honestly was such a hard decision picking just two recipes- there was so much variety and they all looked mouth-watering. The menus change every week, by the way- so don’t worry about ending up with the same dishes week after week! Although, given how amazing my experience was, I wouldn’t mind eating the same thing every couple of weeks really.

cod, tacos, herbs, food, gousto

cod, tacos, food, gousto

chicken cacciatore, food, gousto, italian

chicken cacciatore, food, gousto, italian

My iPhone camera pictures don’t do justice to how delicious they are. I’ve been a bit more experimental in the kitchen as a result, and I’ve gone out to get ingredients to replicate the chicken cacciatore again this week!

(I had to tell them, I loved it so much)

The quality of their ingredients also deserves a special mention: they put effort into sourcing ingredients from British farms and vegetables are organic if possible.

The meat was delivered in a wool insulated bag filled with ice packs to keep ingredients fresh, and the ice packs remain cold throughout so even if you get back late the food won’t spoil on your porch. It was my first time seeing a wool insulated bag and my housemate told me I could probably make a cushion or something craft-y, but I don’t think I am quite that creative. I’d imagine you could sell it by the yard if you racked up an impressive tally of weekly boxes.

Who knows what you could do with it though. Maybe Gousto could do a recycling drive- if you send the wool and reusable ice packs back/ drop it off at a local collection centre, you get a bit of money off your next order? Being sustainable and eco-friendly and all that jazz.

I hope you enjoyed my review of the Gousto box! Remember, you get a huge discount off your first box (and second, if you stay) so give it a try if you’d like some kitchen inspiration.

Pho Manchester visit

I was craving Vietnamese food and Pho was brought up after my housemate mistakenly assumed I was heading there (instead of I am Pho in Chinatown, on George St).

I looked at the menu online and saw they do a lunch deal from 12-5pm on weekdays, so I thought it was worth a try.

Unfortunately, I faffed about getting ready and made it to Pho just five minutes late 😦

Missed the lunch deal (£9.95 for a main and starter- menu here) but oh well, I’m sure I’ll be back for food next time.

I decided to get the Phở chín– tender beef brisket slow cooked in broth (£8.75). According to the description on the site: Phở, (pronounced fuh) is the Vietnamese national dish; an aromatic & delicious rice noodle soup served with a side plate of fresh herbs to add as you please.

Phở chín- tender beef brisket slow cooked in broth, vietnam food, food, vietnamese, soup
Phở chín- tender beef brisket slow cooked in broth (£8.75)

Extra toppings like tofu, brisket, mushrooms etc. can be added on for £1/1.75.

I was quite glad to see that the beansprouts were served raw, as is traditional- too many places boil them before and it loses the taste and crunch.

It came with the usual other herbs: mint, coriander(?), chilli- I would have loved to have more coriander and mint, personally, but I think that’s an issue that you could settle by asking the servers for more.

The broth was quite flavourful but just a tad saltier than I would have preferred- still excellent and nearly just like the phở I had in Vietnam years ago!

I think when a dish is taken out of its country of origin, it can be replicated well, but somehow there is a little essence of something that is lost.

There are so many factors: water, ingredients, etc., but I think Pho Manchester does a pretty good job replicating this Vietnamese dish.

Pho’s website says: our broths are made in each restaurant by slowly simmering bones for a good 12 hours & it’s this authentic preparation that is key to phở retaining all its goodness & developing its own distinctive tastes & aromas.

Is there any wonder that this dish is Gordon Ramsay’s choice of a last meal? It is warm, savoury, intense, and filling (I could gush adjectives all day)- one of my favourite comfort foods.

I got Cà phê sữa đá (Vietnamese iced coffee, £2.80) to accompany my main, and when it first came, the coffee was really watery, weak, and barely had any condensed milk in.

Cà phê sữa đá, Vietnamese iced coffee, manchester, vietnamese food
Cà phê sữa đá (Vietnamese iced coffee, £2.80)

I didn’t want to seem like I was being fussy but I didn’t want to waste it- I spoke to the server about it and she sorted it out for me right away without any fuss.

The second try was perfect, good strong brew and sweet without being too cloying. Kudos for the fast and excellent service!

I will probably update this review when I come back for a second visit with thoughts about starters and desserts (eyeing the Gỏi cuốn [spring rolls] and Chuối chiên [banana fritters])

Granted, I’m a bit disappointed there isn’t much variety in desserts aside from ice cream, since a lot of their sweet desserts e.g. Chè Bà Ba, Chè Chuối, are flavourful and easy to replicate: sweet potato, banana, coconut milk make up the base for many of these and would really allow patrons to experience some local desserts that are popular at night markets and street stalls.

I was initially quite wary about visiting this restaurant since many restaurant chains claiming to do “authentic” food end up doing lots of ~fusion~ dishes catered to local tastes (not that there’s anything wrong with that, since that is the majority of their customer base, but it’s sometimes a little disappointing).

Pho has lots of good veggie or vegan options too (e.g. Phở chay: tofu & button mushrooms in a veggie broth), which is quite good for the diet-conscious who struggle to find variety while eating out.

Try great food that’s delicious & isn’t packed with calories at this popular @cornexchangeMAN eatery @ManchesterPho https://t.co/6skOw4rQ4k

— I Love Manchester (@ILoveMCR) January 24, 2017

They gave me a cute postcard with the bill and now I feel like I need to visit Pho in every city just to collect them LOL. Sneaky marketing hahaha

pho, manchester, uk, postcard, cute, journal

Pho Manchester postcard

***
Food: Very Good.
There is a lot of variety but would love to see more dessert options. Food is pretty authentic.
Service: Very Good. The staff were very friendly and helpful when I requested a replacement. Sometimes it can be difficult to get their attention even though there are a lot of staff standing around just chatting to each other.
Wait time: Around 5-15 minutes. Food was served very quickly and drinks immediately, so I did not feel like I was waiting around with nothing to eat. When I went the restaurant was nearly empty so no waiting around.
Affordability: Very Good. The prices are reasonable but if you are on a student budget i.e. in debt and scrimping to make ends meet, go for their lunch deal (£9.95, 12-5pm on weekdays).

Full menu hereLunch menu here.

Opening hours:

Monday to Friday: 12pm – 11pm

Saturday: 11:30am – 11pm

Sunday: 11:30am – 10pm

Tel: +44 0161 464 9779

Directions:

Edit:

I went back for a second visit for the lunch deal and was not disappointed by the spring rolls- I highly recommend getting the peanut sauce with it- it reminds me a lot of peanut satay sauce I usually get in Singapore hawker centres (oh, how I miss cheap hawker fare) and it was sweet and salty- very flavourful and was a perfect addition to the herby, tangy flavours in the spring roll.

My taste buds were in overdrive and I kept making all these ridiculous sounds, it tasted that good. There were so many flavours going on and I love how there was a perfect balance of greens, noodles, and they didn’t scrimp on the prawns like most places usually do.

I would probably go in for the spring rolls alone since it costs £4.95 and for 4 servings, I wouldn’t mind paying that. The size may be a tad smaller compared to I am Pho (in Chinatown) but given the proximity to the Arndale/Market Street it’s quite easy to pop in for a quick pick-me-up after shopping.

The Pho broth was not as good this time around and I was mildly disappointed given how much I sang its praises on my first visit. Also, real talk- why do they use ramen spoons for Pho?? The spoon was absurdly big, awkward to use, and entirely from the wrong cuisine. 

You use one of these:

 

 
Not this???
 
 
Hoping they change it soon because I couldn’t properly drink the soup off the latter (since you don’t actually drink the ramen broth, that makes sense) and the noodles were too slippery and went everywhere.
 
Pho- sort something out please. Replacing the spoons will only cost you a couple hundred quid, please get rid of the ramen spoons and donate them to Shoryu or Wagamamas or something.
 
#rantover

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