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Photograph: Patty and Bun
Photograph: Patty and Bun

We tried all of London's most hyped meal kits – these were the best

From Dishoom to Patty & Bun, these are the best DIY recipe boxes to order from London restaurants now

By Kate Lloyd
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It’s been a year of struggle and innovation for London’s restaurants. When the city went into lockdown in March and venues had to shut their doors, many had to be creative about how they got their food to stans around the city. Many popped up on takeaway apps. Others gave themselves a makeover, transforming into shops. But the most boss move of all? Developing recipe boxes that Londoners could use to make their food at home.

Dishoom created a kit that helped you recreate its famous bacon naan, there were Honest and Patty & Bun burger boxes and all sorts of curry packs. Now there are loads of DIY kits. Some involve multiple pans, others require simply putting things together, all promise restaurant-quality food at home. But do they deliver? We got the Time Out team to try out some of the most hyped.

London’s best restaurant meal kits

Photograph: Berenjak
Photograph: Berenjak
Photograph: Berenjak

Berenjak, kabab kit

The folks at Persian restaurant Berenjak are so committed to giving you the tools to create an authentic kebab at home, the DIY kit includes bespoke metal skewers imported from Tehran. They look like swords and will make you feel like you are running a legit kebab shop, in a good way. The box comes with two massive flatbreads, mast-o-masir (a yoghurt dip), tomatoes for grilling, onions and herbs and packets of pre-prepared lamb and chicken, which is enough to make four very generous kebabs. The instructions are clear and there’s even a QR code which takes you to a YouTube video if you need more guidance. Wrangling those skewers feels like quite an achievement even though Berenjak have mostly done all the hard work. Most importantly: the end result is truly delicious and you will almost definitely have leftovers. Izzy Aron

Lahpet
Lahpet
Photograph: @Kathrin Werner Photography

Lahpet, meal kit delivery service

If Burmese cuisine is not your area of expertise, Shoreditch’s Lahpet is here to fill the gap with beautifully presented, easily assembled kits. The stand-out for me was the coconut noodles with chicken (£15 for 2), which reminded me a little of an Indonesian laksa in its spicy kick and glorious collision of textures, along with a tea leaf salad (£12). Sharply refreshing Lahpet margaritas (£6), made with betel leaf tequila, are available to wash it all down with. Order via lahpet.co.uk/pantry – dinner hampers are available too (£35 for 2). Phil de Semlyen

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Photograph: Dishoom
Photograph: Dishoom
Photograph: Dishoom

Dishoom, Dishoom at Home bacon naan

Dishoom’s #iconic bacon naan roll is a delicious mash-up of greasy-spoon realness and Irani-Indian flavour. It’s not impossible to bodge your own version at home, but now you don’t have to: Dishoom’s DIY kit contains bacon, chilli-tomato chutney, cream cheese, herbs and, crucially, three balls of dough to make your own naans. You even get a spice blend to brew Dishoom-style masala chai.

There are enough ingredients for three rolls, which are totally delicious and pretty easy to assemble, though make sure the dough is at room temperature before rolling it – and be careful when you take the hot naan pan out of the oven (ouch!). The cost? £16 including a charity donation. James Manning

Photograph: Sarah Cohen
Photograph: Sarah Cohen
Photograph: Sarah Cohen

Dirty Bones, lamb fries kit

Whichever maverick thought to smother a pile of skinny fries with fresh chilli, spring onion, jalapeño dressing and moreish chunks of miso-glazed lamb belly has invented a new diner delicacy. This kit costs a tenner and contains enough of the aforementioned ingredients for a two-person feast.

The instructions were a bit woolly – how long do you fry the lamb for? – but the result rivalled the version we’ve eaten at Dirty Bones. The chips were softer – perhaps the restaurant fries rather than bakes them? – but the lamb was crispier and less fatty. Naked chips will never be enough now. Sarah Cohen

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Photograph: Pizza Pilgrims
Photograph: Pizza Pilgrims
Photograph: Pizza Pilgrims

Pizza Pilgrims, frying pan pizza kit

This DIY kit (£15) won a coveted Time In Award for keeping you lot happy in lockdown. So what’s all the fuss about? The packaging is appealing, for starters: a snazzy pizza box that opens on all your ingredients. Inside, there’s enough dough for two ’zas and it’s pretty fun spinning that around before you slap it in a pan and top with pre-made marinara and mozzarella (a handy video on the website shows you how).

It’s quite hard to get a crispy crust under the grill without the right kind of pan, but the results are still delicious and it’s made within minutes – easy as pie. You could get experimental with toppings if you fancy reliving a classic rainy day childhood activity, but a straight-up marg is just as bellissima. Laura Richards

Photograph: Mambow
Photograph: Mambow
Photograph: Mambow

Mambow, Mambow at Home

Spitalfields’ Mambow squeezes a lot of its trademark Singaporean and Malaysian flavours into its pick-and-choose-style home-delivery menu. Essentially, it’s a three-course deal, so you can pick a main, side and dessert for £25.

There’s only one dessert option – a devilishly rich and bittersweet dark chocolate tart – so that’s easy. For the main, the sticky pork shoulder char sui required a quick spell in the oven and a swift barbecue glaze and left me wanting it for every meal from then on. I was marginally less sold on the tofu kapitan, but the sides were easy to assemble and inventively flavourful. I’m saying that the crispy bean curd parcels stuffed with pork and prawns deserve their own emoji. Order by emailing charlie@wearemambow.com. Phil de Semlyen

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Photograph: Patty and Bun
Photograph: Patty and Bun
Photograph: Patty and Bun

Patty & Bun, P&B DIY kit

It’s just a burger, right? Weeeeellll… not exactly. Patty & Bun serves up top-dollar meat sandwiches, and if you fancy making one yourself (or just finding out what goes into them – it’s definitely not health food) then this kit is a doddle to put together.

Twenty-five quid gets you four posh patties and brioche buns plus bacon, cheese, pickled onions and trademark P&B mayo. (Vegan alternatives are available.) That adds up to two Ari Gold and two Smokey Robinson burgers, with detailed instructions on which order to stack the ingredients in. Warning: your kitchen will smell of beef fat for days. James Manning

Photograph: Joe Mackertich
Photograph: Joe Mackertich
Photograph: Joe Mackertich

Townsend, three-course recipe box

We plumped for the potato dumpling prawn butter starter (£7) and a trout main course (£12). This is top-notch restaurant food, focusing on simple dishes that owe their deliciousness to fresh, high-quality ingredients.

Instructions were easy to follow, even when it required an all-four-hobs stove situation to prepare the starter and main simultaneously (I refuse to cook myself dinner twice). For dessert, Eton mess (£6). As teeth-rattlingly sweet as you’d expect. Joe Mackertich

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Photograph: Spicebox
Photograph: Spicebox
Photograph: Spicebox

Spicebox, Spicebox @ Home korma box

This recipe kit is massive. Especially considering it's a very reasonable £39.75. In the box? An indulgent vegan feast of a thing, that fed us (and our housemates) for days. Cooking-wise, it’s higher effort than some of the other kits.

It contains the fresh ingredients (and detailed instructions) needed to make a super creamy cannelloni bean and cashew korma, with spinach, green beans and sweet potato. Plus there’s a a big sachet of pre-made tarka dhal, two naans, fragrant samosas and a bottle of date and tamarind chutney. We especially liked how the instructions said when to start prepping things to ensure everything’s ready at the same time. Kate Lloyd

Photograph: Sarah Cohen
Photograph: Sarah Cohen
Photograph: Sarah Cohen

Island Poké, DIY kit

What a treasure trove of ingredients – enough to make two large bowls of classic ahi tuna poké and two of yuzu lomi lomi salmon. As well as the pre-cut fish, you get a hefty pack of sushi rice, which must be washed, cooked, seasoned and cooled, plus an exciting array of sauces, dressings and accompaniments.

After a bit of chopping and marinating, the various elements were ready to be assembled. The tuna bowl tasted more interesting, with pineapple and chilli salsa, wakami and crispy shallots, but the salmon’s yuzu dressing hit the spot. Hawaiian heaven for 32 quid. Sarah Cohen 

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Photograph: The Cheese Bar
Photograph: The Cheese Bar
Photograph: The Cheese Bar

The Cheese Bar, Fondue-it-Yourself!

Since staying in is the new going out, the retro dinner party is also having a moment. What could suit the occasion better than a kitsch ‘fondue-it-yourself’ kit from Camden’s fromage-loving restaurant (£28 for two)?

It comes with a coolea and kingham cheese mix ready to melt, plus dippables: potatoes, cornichons and crusty bread. But who’s to say you can’t get inventive with the contents of your lockdown larder?

You can also order shots of cherry kirsch liqueur and a crisp Alpine wine, in case fondue is more about après-ski for you. It makes a cosy event out of staying in, although admittedly, not one best suited to a hot summer day in your flat. Laura Richards

Photograph: Sarah Cohen
Photograph: Sarah Cohen
Photograph: Sarah Cohen

Monty’s Deli, Reuben sandwich pack

The hunk of salt beef (or pastrami) at the heart of this £38 kit, which comes with enough ingredients for three stacked Reuben sandwiches, needs to be steamed for a few minutes, and the bread toasted, but otherwise this is a simple assembly job.

You slather the grilled rye bread with squeezy mustard, pile on the melt-in-your-mouth meat, add a heap of Monty’s own-made sauerkraut, balance a slice of Swiss cheese on top and cover with the addictive Russian dressing. Voila! A deli classic that tastes just as good as the one served in Monty’s. Sarah Cohen

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Photograph: Shoryu
Photograph: Shoryu
Photograph: Shoryu

Shoryu, DIY Shoryu kit

If you’ve been missing the slurpy joys of ramen, Shoryu’s signature Ganso ramen is a DIY delight. The kit costs £20 and serves two hungry ramen fiends.

All the trimmings – including char siu pork belly that you’ll need to briefly pan fry – come in little pouches. But it’s all about the broth, and the tonkotsu is every bit as flavourful as you’d expect in a Tokyo noodle shop. You can freeze the kit for up to a month, but, honestly, why would you want to? Phil de Semlyen

Photograph: Kate Lloyd
Photograph: Kate Lloyd
Photograph: Kate Lloyd

Honest Burgers, Honest at Home DIY burger kit

Nothing has caused more excitement in this Time Outer’s flat than the arrival of the Honest Burgers kit (£30). In it: four patties, four brioche buns and everything you need to make it taste like you’re eating in at the restaurant. Think red onion relish (that makes the fridge smell amazing), cheese slices and smoked bacon. (You have to provide your own chips, but they give you rosemary salt to sprinkle on them.)

The instructions are so detailed that they even have a diagram showing how to layer your burger. And the results? Perfectly cooked burgers that tasted so much fresher than takeaway ones and were decadently messy to eat. Kate Lloyd

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Photograph: Sarah Cohen
Photograph: Sarah Cohen
Photograph: Sarah Cohen

Burger & Lobster, lobster roll kit

There’s minimal cooking required to recreate this luxurious sandwich at home – just some roll toasting and sauce heating. The generous pack of lobster meat – enough for two portions – comes pre-boiled, ready to be mixed with the tangy dressing and piled into brioches.

For maximum authenticity, the finished items can be placed in the Burger & Lobster-branded hotdog-style boxes that come with this £28 kit – a nice touch. But they’re not there to look pretty, these babies need eating, and what a treat that was: fresh lobster for Monday night dinner – lush. Sarah Cohen

Photograph: Smokestak
Photograph: Smokestak
Photograph: Smokestak

Smokestak, DIY bun box

When the box (£28 for enough grub for four people) contains a pound of beef brisket and a pot of beef dripping, you know it’s going to be good. Thankfully, the folks at Smokestak have done all the hard work – all you have to do is heat up the pre-cooked brisket, shred it, toast your buns and assemble.

Toppings include the aforementioned beef dripping to smear on the bun if you’re feeling extra (I was), barbecue sauce and a jar of totally addictive pickled red chillies (you’ll have leftovers). Instructions are easy to follow and it feels like a totally legit recreation of the real deal – even if you do have to wash up your plates afterwards. Isabelle Aron

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