Comfort food soothes lockdown blues

September, 12/2021 - 09:19

Stuck at home, living in fear of an invisible virus, people have been urged to stay inside. With this in mind, it is good to have a list of food options ready to hand. Ngô Minh suggests some places that deliver great meals straight to your door.

Stuck at home, living in fear of an invisible virus, people have been urged to stay inside. With this in mind, it is good to have a list of food options ready to hand. Ngô Minh suggests some places that deliver great meals straight to your door.

Essence Kitchen

Tel: 0987 982 222

Facebook: Essence Kitchen

More than a food shop, Essence Kitchen is a community where people can share their passion for healthy food and cooking. Owner of the shop Kiều Ái Linh confesses that she’s an amateur. She loves cooking and cares about her weight. Her idea is to share healthy, delicious food for other women without causing worries when they step on the scales.

Beef shank marinated in fish sauce served at Essence Kitchen. Photo courtesy of the shop

“I am not a professional chef or seller. Everyone has her or his own living style, diet and taste. So I am not sure that all the food of Essence Kitchen satisfies everyone. I just promise that I have researched the recipes and tried my best to bring people food that’s good for health,” she said.

Linh’s menu includes European food like brioche, wholewheat bread, dumplings, pasta sauce, salad dressings, pizza and chicken nuggets. However, the list of the food is not fixed each day. It changes depending on her inspiration and the source of ingredients. Sometimes, when you visit the page you might feel disappointed when your favourite is not available.

I recommend the wholewheat bread, dumplings stuffed with chicken and mushroom, and brioche made from raisins and cereals. The pastries have no sugar, using natural sweetness from fruit instead.

Another must-try dish is beef shank marinated in fish sauce. Using Vietnamese beef, the shank is not as fat and soft as Australian or American beef, but tough and full of muscle. However, if it is cooked the right way it is delicious.

After several hours of boiling, the tough meat fibres and collagen begin to break down and infuse a great deal of flavour. The secret to the dish is the length of time spent simmering. When the fibres break down, the beef cuts become succulent tender chunks with a rich and flavourful gravy. Then the shank is marinated for hours in a mixture of fish sauce, sugar, chilli, garlic, black pepper and vinegar, giving an impressive spicy and sour taste.

Bếp Hoa (Flower Kitchen)

Tel: 0888 151 618

Facebook: Bep Hoa

Flower Kitchen offers a wide range of Vietnamese culinary highlights such as phở bò (beef noodles), bún riêu (crab noodles) and bánh tôm (fried shrimp pancakes).

These dishes are so popular that most people have their own favourite restaurants, but due to social distancing most are now closed. Luckily, Flower Kitchen can deliver these delicacies straight to your dining room at home.

A set of bún riêu (crab noodles) at Bếp Hoa. Photo courtesy of the shop

The taste of these dishes is not necessarily as good as the ones served at specialised shops. However, beggars can’t be choosers, and finding a shop with Vietnamese specialties at the moment is wonderful. But how I miss shops on street corners, serving boiling broth with colourful ingredients placed in a bowl for customers.

These days a bowl of crab noodles, topped with tomatoes and shallots served with a variety of herbs can really soothe nostalgic pangs.

This month, the shop also offers various mooncakes using less sugar and no preservatives. There are many options for stuffing such as green rice flakes or mung beans with salted egg yolk.

Nem Thanh

Tel: 0947 913 636

Facebook: Nem Thanh

Nem Thanh is a famous brand founded by Trọng Tấn, a leading singer of patriotic music. Apart from singing, he is passionate about his homeland specialties. He founded the Nem Thanh food brand to introduce Thanh Hóa Province's fermented pork rolls.

The shop serves many kinds of fermented rolls. All are made from pork fat, meat and shredded skin, mixed with spices and wrapped in layers of bamboo leaves for several days until they are fermented.

Various kinds of fermented pork rolls from Nem Thanh. Photo courtesy of the shop

The different shapes of the rolls give them their names. There are many options to choose from. Traditional Thanh Hóa fermented pork rolls are finger-shaped. Nem cối is cut into thin slices to serve. Nem thính is a handful of fermented pork meat and skin mixed together with thính (roasted rice grounded into brownish powder). Nem nướng is a kind of nem thính grilled until it gives off a mouthwatering aroma.

Recently, the shop has added several new dishes to its menu such as chicken braised with aromatic herbs. It is highly nutritious and scented with other ingredients like ginseng, wormwood vegetable, red dates, angelica root and goji berries. Each portion is suitable for one person. VNS