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When it comes to preparing a gourmet meal you can be proud of, an investment of time and a good recipe book are often required. If you're a busy parent or living alone while working full time, just dashing out 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 leave many abandoning hope, opting for the greasier 'ready prepared' meal option or dining out at a local restaurant. But even those who do make the effort to cook have probably found themselves saying "This just doesn't have the same impact as the dish I tried at the restaurant the other day," every so often. If only there were a way to replicate the same taste at home!
If you live in Japan, a collaboration between convenience store chain Lawson and Yahoo! (yes, that Yahoo!) may be the answer to your culinary conundrums: a new home delivery service that offers not ready-to-eat meals, but rather a combination of ready-to-cook dishes that can be thrown together to create a tasty meal of your own.
Dubbed "Smart Kitchen", the service sees all the ingredients you'll need delivered to your doorstep. From there, it's simply a case of tossing them in the frying pan and you're on the road to impressing the family or a loved one with your culinary skill.
The service launched on January 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 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 juicy hamburger steaks. Overall, a wide range of Japanese, Western and Chinese ingredients and dishes were on display.
Our reporter sampled a sweet-and-sour pork in black vinegar dish that was billed as "even able to keep the kids happy", which was 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 made a debut 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 five minutes to perfect.
From now until March 11, a "test kit" containing sweet-and-sour pork chop suey, and hamburger is available in limited quantities for only 980 yen (US$10) — a tasty discount on the standard 2,000 yen ($21) price.
Source: Smart Kitchen
"Authentic Cooking in 10 Minutes" kit
Mackerel cooked in Japanese miso
A variety of other products is available for delivery as well
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Origin: Japanese Convenience Store and Yahoo! Launch Ready-to-Cook Meal Delivery Service
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