The End (Of Lockdown)
We did it! We’ve made it to the end of lockdown! While most people seem to be rejoicing in their newly restored freedom, I admit I feel a little weird. On one hand, I’m ecstatic to be able to return to some semblance of normalcy. On the other, the antisocial introvert in me is terrified of going back out. Even if it is to order food for dine-in.
That part of me seems very content with reminiscing about lockdown at present. It’s forcing me to look back at all the good times during lockdown. I never thought it possible but I am kind of missing lockdown. Just a little, teeny-tiny bit. I have to say, introvert Nusi does have a point.
While yes, lockdown was a period of boundless stress and anxiety, there were some very good days too. One of the few things that made lockdown bearable, was being able to order food. This is obviously only speaking for me though. You may not be the type of person that draws pleasure from food. In which case, I’m so sorry.
Anyway, here are 4 places in particular that made my heart sing like a caged songbird! Get it? It’s because of lockdown. No? Ah whatever, just keep scrolling.
4. No Lies Fries
I’m about to say something and I can already feel you all lining up behind me with your bells. The first time I tried No Lies Fries (NLF) was during lockdown. There, I said it. Feel free to start ringing those bells and yelling ‘SHAME’. I know you want to.
I guess that’s why they’re so low on this list. My emotional attachment is somewhat limited I guess. Their DIY burger kit was a god-send however. This was when lockdown was at its most intense, in more ways than one. Food delivery in the traditional sense was out of the question. So what do you do when you want a juicy, like ostentatiously juicy burger?
You make it yourself.
NLF’s way around the risks was sending you everything you needed to make their signature burgers at home. I mean we had nowhere to go, might as well go to the kitchen. Most people already knew it as the place with the fridge and all the food. Now there was a reason to go beyond that…
Jokes aside, they broke down the instructions into easy steps. Each high-quality component came in labeled boxes or packs and with the barest minimum effort, you had 4 amazing burgers to enjoy. Their secret sauce, I tell you, is magic. Cutting through all the richness of the beef like a hot knife through butter.
I ordered from them again once delivery was allowed again. You know a place is exceptional when they deliver piping hot food with MORE than half of the specified time remaining. I also got a chance to compare my burger-making skills with theirs and honestly, I’m glad they are delivering.
There’s a conversation that happens between the chef and customer when food is eaten the way the chefs intended. It can be a bit of an argument. You might have had a completely different idea about what a burger could be and NLF will pretty much flip it on its head. You might not like the idea at first. No one likes being told off. I say bear with it, it’s delicious. You’ll thank me later.
Or you’ll storm my comments section, either way, ENGAGEMENT!
3. Funky Monk
You know what they say, once you go funky, you’ll never go back. Okay, no one says that. I just wanted a good transition into this section. It is true however. Funky Monk is the kind of comforting desi Chinese that would put the chairmans and the extremes to shame. If you know, you know.
Gorgeously chewy noodles, stir-fried to perfection, topped with crispy beef that isn’t gloppy and sodden with sauce. Rather, flavored to the core and still tender on the inside. All you need is a fork or some chopsticks and a few quiet moments to yourself. Undisturbed, to enjoy the textures, playing off each other, to behold the flavours, contrasting and enhancing each other. Finding satisfaction in both the chew and the crunch before the flavour sends you over the edge and into a food coma.
That is me every time I order their crispy beef noodle bowl. They continued to deliver that and then some in lockdown. This is not your ketchup-laden, cornflour heavy, overtly greasy Chinese. You could call it more refined, or more ‘burger’, whatever floats your boat. It will, however, leave you with that familiar, fulfilled feeling of well-fed comfort. Something we all want at most times, and is especially welcome in lockdown.
Yes. I am saying it’s like that cousin who went abroad and came back with an accent and yes it is delicious. Now go order it. Jeez, can’t win with you at all. On to the next one!
2. Yoshi’s/Gourmet Gina
In this post Brooklyn Nine-Nine world, everyone seems to have a favourite Gina. Some say Gina Linetti, some say Gina Rodriguez. I say Yoshi’s little sister, Gourmet Gina. I’ve clubbed these siblings together because this family has been jointly spoiling me during lockdown. At first, it was just Yoshi’s, satisfying my need for Korean Fried Chicken with their DIY kits. Similar to NLF, the ingredients were well-packed, the instructions, simple and the result, impeccable.
I also may or may not have hoarded the extra gouchujang sauce or my own use.
Sauce-hoarding aside, just as I was warming up to Yoshi, I was introduced to Gina. Call it favoritism but I am definitely more partial to the younger sibling. Well, I’ll be partial to anyone that presents me with gorgeous burgers. The NLF entry proved that and the Pinch&Co entry will just enforce it. Big, juicy burgers and a few sandwiches, all loaded with flavour. Whether it was the expectation-subverting Koja BBQ or the sixer that is the Smoked Chicken and Cranberry. Gina kept me well-fed with a steady supply of joy sandwiched in buns.
You’re making that last sentence dirty aren’t you, YA NASTY! On to the next one! GO! Before you ruin buns for me (and yourself).
No, for the 100th time. I do not own Pinch&Co! I just happen to love their food. And somehow, I’ve made friends with the owner too. The latter was purely an act of foodie fate though. Rarely do you find people who also share the same vigour for a shared passion. In such cases, great food is an added bonus.
Thank God For That Food!
I genuinely don’t know where to begin with Pinch&Co. I ordered from the absolute most during lockdown. It wasn’t like I loved one fish so I ordered it over and over either. Each order was different though I wish I ordered the NT burger over and over.
Yes, they named a burger after me. Honestly, it’s an honour. I mean just look at this beauty. I know I said NLF would flip your expectations of a burger on its head. That is the entry point to the land of great burgers and this is the king.
If it wasn’t my craving for burgers, it was noodles. If it wasn’t noodles, it was burritos. Fried chicken sandwiches, Halal-Guys-Style bowls and possibly a thousand different salads! All my lockdown cravings were just a WhatsApp conversation away! Which is good considering my lockdown anxiety frequently extended to phone calls too!
All this talk of Pinch&Co had me craving their chilli cheese dip. No, not the internet, canned chilli and Velveeta cheese version. Freshly made cream cheese topped with chilli, garlic, olives, tomatoes and a whole lot of love. At least that’s what it feels like considering it tastes like love! No wonder it’s so frequently emulated.
And yes, this I had twice. You know, because of lockdown. Not because I’m a greedy glutton that has really bloomed in lockdown.
Totally not because of that.