#NewYearNewMe goals have spread their clutches far and wide this January, and not even the Foodie office – made up of a collective of people who are routinely encouraged to nurse a militant love for excessive food consumption, for “work reasons and research purposes” – has been spared. But just because we’re looking to eat cleaner and healthier (before we succumb to lavish CNY feasts, at the very least) doesn’t mean we want to compromise on flavour.
Can we really have it all, though? We turned to NOSH, one of Hong Kong’s most established meal-plan-delivery companies, to test the theory. Their new plant-based meal plan was designed with nutritional balance and vegetarians in mind and boasts a repertoire of 40 recipes, some of which are fully vegan.
Here are our favourite meals from their new vegetarian line:
Cauliflower bulgogi with kimchi fried brown rice
Chimichurri cauliflower steak with herb sweet potatoes and broccolini
The cauliflower bulgogi with kimchi fried brown rice was our overall favourite. The kimchi packed a slight punch, but nothing too worrisome for those with a sensitive palate. The cauliflower still had a substantial crunch after reheating, and the flavour of the fried rice was varied and intricate enough for a whole meal without becoming too bland or repetitive (but we would have liked to see more veggies in the mix).
The plant-based take of swapping out a juicy steak with a “meaty” cruciferous veg isn’t breathtakingly new, but the addition of a tangy chimichurri sauce gave our cauliflower steak the fresh, herby edge that it needed to stand out amongst the other greens on the plate. We wouldn’t have minded if the finely diced potatoes had been a bit chunkier, as they persistently rolled off our forks as we tried to scoop them up. Overall, this recipe gets extra points from us for its antioxidant- and vitamin-rich ingredients.
Halloumi Cobb salad
Vegan meat with black beans and quinoa brown rice
The halloumi Cobb salad was visually appealing, but the cooled halloumi – arguably the highlight of the dish – had a chewiness to it that bordered on rubbery, which didn’t beguile our palates, even after we slathered it in vinaigrette. Other than that, the variety of ingredients included – protein-rich eggs and beans, fresh greens, cherry tomatoes and corn – made for a satisfying, texturally interesting salad. We would try it again to see if perhaps we just ended up with an unfortunate dodgy portion of halloumi that day.
Last, but not least, came the meal we were most curious about: vegan meat with black beans and quinoa brown rice. Our second fried rice of the week, we were pleased to note that it differed from the one delivered with the cauliflower bulgogi, this time paired with corn, black beans and quinoa. For the meal’s main source of protein, NOSH used Gardein’s pre-made, nugget-shaped vegan Chick’n meat, produced primarily from soy, wheat, and flour from organic ancient grains like Khorasan wheat, amaranth, millet and quinoa. Though not new to plant-based meats, with the plethora of Impossible and Beyond Meat products on the Hong Kong market, we had not yet tried the Gardein line, and we are proud to report back that it does, shockingly, impart a flavour that’s quite reminiscent of chicken. Our meal came with a thick, tomato-paste-like sauce for mixing and dipping rather than a chopped tomato salad, as in the picture above, which, truthfully, we preferred, as it provided additional moisture for the nuggets and rice.
What we liked
First off, the numbers, since we were hoping to eat ourselves into a lean, green machine. The calorie count of a full day’s meal plan comes up to 1,500 calories, which is about how much the average woman should take in to lose one pound of weight per week (though, of course, there are other factors that come into play such as age, height, current weight, activity levels, metabolic health, etc). The meal plans are customisable, depending on your ultimate goal and whether you’re looking to really trim down or make gains.
Second, the flavours and premium ingredients. The variety of recipes, taking inspiration from Western and Eastern cuisines, was a pleasant surprise, and we liked the adventurous foray into protein-rich vegan meats, superfoods and whole grains, as well as the creativity of the different kinds of fried rice. Not only did we look forward to our meals every day just based on the dish descriptions, but the meals actually followed through and delivered on execution. The portions were reasonable; we came away from each lunch content with the amount we’d eaten without feeling like we had to spend the next two hours struggling to stay awake and fight off a food coma.
We also applaud the use of biodegradable packaging – made from sugar cane and PLA plastics, which fully decompose in landfills in under 60 days – and the delivery of all meals in reusable, insulated bags, which you can hand back to the driver to minimise waste (and bag hoarding, of course). You know the KonMari drill: if it doesn’t spark joy...
What we didn’t like
Big no to the rubbery halloumi. Maybe we tasted a bad batch, but it did not work as the centrepiece of a chilled Cobb salad. Also, bigger chunks of potatoes, please.
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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