Meal Box Review: Middle Eastern feast with vegan options carnivores will crave

Truly delicious, ethically sourced meat and meat-free dishes with no virtue signalling

Tang’s meal box is easy to prepare and contains truly delicious food

Tang’s meal box is easy to prepare and contains truly delicious food

 

Vietnamese coconut and tempeh curry is not the sort of dish you expect to be rustled up in your average kitchen, but if you’ve been following Padraig Howley, the 67-year-old Instagram account holder from Kilfenora, Co Clare, who has amassed thousands of followers tracking his quest to go vegan for 21 days, you may be considering giving it a go. With a copy of David and Stephen Flynn’s book, The Happy Health Plan, and his own soundtrack as he sings favourites by the Dubliners and Clancy Brothers, he makes it all look so achievable.

But going vegan is not easy, and to be honest, it’s something I simply cannot get my head around. For me, the no-dairy is a deal breaker. But with an in-house vegan daughter, who would dearly love to convert the lot of us, I am always on the lookout for restaurants that have choices for everyone, and that of course extends to meal boxes too.

Tang, which first opened on Dublin’s Dawson Street, and more recently on Abbey Street, takes an inclusive approach to healthy food and sustainability. So, while plenty of the food there can tick the vegan, healthy, and nutritious boxes, it is first and foremost delicious; and ethically raised meat is also on the menu. The meal kits, which are designed to be a sharing feast for two, include roast chicken, lamb kofta, and vegan dinner options, and there’s also a flexi dinner box (€49.50), which is all vegan with the exception of a chicken main course for one.

It’s a tidy kit, everything is well labelled, and the only work involved is a bit of assembly and reheating. If you’ve ordered wine – I can recommend the Tour des Gendres Pet Nat (€25) – it will go very nicely with the nibbles of olives and smoked almonds, which are flecked with a little sugar, adding a Moroccan slant to them.

The dips and dishes all look very appetizing and the idea is to serve everything together with Tang’s homemade flatbread, which is reheated for a few minutes on a frying pan. Tahini, earthy and slightly lactic, is topped with incandescent beetroot and green fronds of fennel. The creamy carrot hummus, with a touch of sweetness, which suggests that the carrots were probably roasted before they were whizzed up into a puree, is topped with fennel-seed pesto and scallions, bringing not just texture, but also a more savoury note to this dip.

Arancini, with a crisp outer shell speckled with black and white sesame seeds, are dunked into a harissa sauce with a nice kick of heat. McNally’s organic greens are tossed with pickled carrots, parsnip and cabbage for a really pretty and tasty salad.

The roast chicken is from Ring’s Farm, and this is evident in the superior flavour it has, added to the fact that it has been cooked beautifully and comes with a great gravy. Smashed potatoes with smoked oil work as an accompaniment.

But the surprising standout for me is the ratatouille, which is designed to be the substantial vegan dish. With quite a bit of Middle Eastern spice, the aubergine, which is cut into chunks, has been allowed to crisp up at the edges, adding a slightly caramelised richness to the dish. This makes the contrast with the accompanying salsa enthralling. I would never have thought of putting coconut, cucumber and lime with this dish, and it quite simply brings it alive, cleverly adding a vibrant spark of summer.

For dessert, vegan brownies are dusted with pistachio and rose petals, and while good and chocolatey, they are just a little bit dense in texture for my liking.

Tang takes the virtue signalling out of veganism, and instead focuses on really tasty food, that I wager, would have hardened carnivores licking their lips. It is punchy, clever, and rammed with flavour; and it also is incredibly good value.   

Dinner for two was €49.50, plus €6.50 delivery.

Where does it come from: 23c Dawson Street, Dublin 2; tang.ie
The verdict: 8/10 Inspiring, truly delicious food
Difficulty factor: Reheat and eat, with very precise instructions
Food provenance: Sustainability is central to everything here, with organic producers and ethically raised meat
Vegetarian options: Vegetarians and vegans are very well catered for
Delivery: Click and collect, and delivery Dublin, Co Dublin and surrounding towns (€6.50- €15) on Friday and Saturday.

Three to Try

Gourmet Chef
Co Dublin and Dublin 14; order online, pick up in Churchtown; delivery Killiney to Blackrock, Thursday and Saturday; gourmetchef.ie
With a Michelin background having worked with Jean Christophe Novelli, Raymond Blanc and Guillaume Lebrun, Tracy Rennie is a low key but highly rated private chef. Her weekly, changing, restaurant-at-home menu, €22.50/ €25.50, has included oven-roasted chicken with truffle and cep jus; rump of lamb; and fillet of salmon; with passion fruit tart for dessert.

The Sambo Ambo
Dublin 8, food truck, 12-4pm daily, Instagram @thesamboambo
DJ and chef, Marcus O’Laoire, is back serving “life-saving sandwiches” from his repurposed ambulance. Toasted sandwiches are taken to a new level, from classic ham and cheese toasties, to grilled halloumi, with Thai coconut curry sauce, pickle and herb salad, and crispy onions. Smash burgers and an evening menu are planned.

Derry Bow Downes
Dublin 7; order on Instagram, pick up from Sitric Road, Saturday 19th March; @derry_bowe_downes
Former Delahunt chef, Dermot Staunton, who operates a shop from the window of his house in Stoneybatter, is running a one-off St Patrick’s Day themed box, €45. It includes Guinness bread, cockles and mussels with garlic butter, cheese and onion pasties, tea-smoked salmon, Dublin coddle terrine, and apple and almond crumble tart.

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