When it comes to preparing a gourmet meal you can be proud of, an investment of time and a good recipe book are quite often required. If you’re a busy mom or single working man, just dashing out for a shopping spree to gather the ingredients — not to mention actually preparing the meal — can prove rather time consuming and, let’s admit, a little bothersome.
The intricacies of it all leaves many abandoning hope, opting for the greasier ready prepared meal option or dining out at their local restaurant. Even if you do make the effort, how many times have you found yourself saying: “This just doesn’t have the same impact as the dish I tried at the restaurant the other day”? If only there was a way to replicate the same taste at home!
If you live in Japan, convenience store chain Lawson and Yahoo! might have just what you’re looking for.
Their solution takes the form of a home delivery service. No, this is not another fast food service, but rather a combination of ready-to-cook dishes that can be thrown together for a tasty meal. They call it “Smart Kitchen”, and once the ingredients have arrived at your doorstep, it’s simply a case of tossing them in the fry pan and you’re on the road to impressing the family or girlfriend with your culinary skill.
The service launched Jan 17 and is focused around providing fresh food products, ready meals and daily commodities. Currently, they only allow delivery once per week per customer, however it is possible to specify a time that is convenient to you. Reservations can made via the comfort of your computer or smart phone. What’s even more attractive is that delivery is completely free for anyone living in Tokyo.
Ingredients available range from pre-shelled lobsters to ready-cut vegetables. All the necessary sauces and flavorings are included with your kit, so you’re ready to start cooking the moment the food has been delivered to your house.
But how does it taste? Our reporter attended a press event held last month to commemorate the service’s launch and tells us that she was immediately taken aback by the sheer variety and intricacy of the Smart Kitchen menu.
When it came to the bread products alone, there was everything from your standard sliced bread to chocolate-filled pastries, and even a fruit trifle. The side dish category was also a quite a spectacle; from classic Japanese side dishes like “hijiki” seaweed to a juicy hamburger steak. Overall, a wide range of Japanese, Western and Chinese ingredients and dishes were on display.
Our reporter sampled a dish advertised as the “Keep Even the Kids Happy With This Sweet and Sour Pork Seasoned in Black Vinegar” meal, composed of dishes from the “Authentic Home Cooking in 10 Minutes” kit. Our reporter commented that the green peppers and onions were crispy, juicy, and tasted so fresh that the only thing missing was a steaming bowl of rice to accompany it.
No Japanese publicity event would be complete without a celebrity guest appearance, and on this occasion, TV personality Chiriko Sakashita showed up to prepare and the “Lobster and Broccoli” meal, created from the same “Authentic Cooking in 10 Minutes” kit. As promised, everything was cut and ready for cooking, and in total it took Sakashita a mere 5 minutes to perfect.
From now until March 11, a “test kit” containing sweet and sour pork, chop suey, and hamburger is available in limited quanities for only 980 yen — a tasty discount on the standard 2,000 yen price.
Source: Smart Kitchen