Nara Chicken and Tonkatsu
8712 150 St.
Home delivery by SkipTheDishes.com
SkipTheDishes – reliability and speed – 4 of 5 Suns
Nara Chicken and Tonkatsu take-out food – 3.5 of 5 Suns
SkipTheDishes-delivered Nara dinner for two, excluding beverages, tips and $4.49 delivery fee: Basic $30, loaded $50.
Drastic times call for drastic measures.
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While those SkipTheDishes TV ads aired during Oiler hockey games (remember those?) are well done and star Mad Men’s Jon Hamm as a comedian, the usual restaurant experience is still as much about ambiance and socializing as it is about food.
But there we were on a late-afternoon Friday, seven of us from two houses, self-isolated together but for visits to the grocery store, pharmacy and gas station. Going out to dine was not an option.
What better time to become best friends with SkipTheDishes? Or at least wave to the rear ends of their delivery people. As instructed, they left our food at the door, rang the doorbell and walked away.
The SkipTheDishes app was duly downloaded – as were the Uber Eats and DoorDash apps to use another day. You scroll through the (long) list of restaurants until you find something appealing, order what you want with a series of clicks, pay by credit card.
On your cell phone, SkipTheDishes then reports the progress of your delivery person – on his/her way to the restaurant, picking up your order, driving to your location, all the while giving you an accurate countdown on the minutes remaining until your doorbell rings.
We ordered shortly after 5 p.m. to avoid any supper-time rush hour. The SkipTheDishes delivery service worked just fine. The Nara Chicken and Tonkatsu food arrived, still hot and fresh, as promised, some 35 minutes after we ordered using the app.
Why Nara Chicken and Tonkatsu?
Because there wasn’t that much else to choose from.
Hundreds upon hundreds of restaurants use SkipTheDishes, but the subscribing restaurants tend to be fast-food or fast-food-ish – chicken, burger, pizza, sandwiches – or very mainstream ethnic, i.e. South Asian, Thai, Korean, Mediterranean. They even have 7-Elevens listed for home delivery.
A few familiar names appear, i.e. Padmanadi, Nando’s, Remedy Café. But chef-driven $$$ restaurants tend not to deliver, at least not via the new take-out delivery apps. Mainly because fancier restaurants aren’t prepared to pay delivery service commissions ranging from 20% to 30% of the bill.
Mind you, with both restaurant closures and self-isolation demand for home delivery, things are rapidly changing.
Some previously closed restaurants are now re-opening, but only for independent take-out/pick-up. Best check websites/Facebook sites for up-to-date info.
Nara’s mainstream Korean fried chicken and tonkatsu (breaded, deep-fried pork tenderloin, a Japanese dish popular in North America) was good for what it was – sturdy, tasty take-out food.
It all arrived as ordered, still hot. The chicken pieces – half the famous double-dipped deep-fried Korean, the other half bathed in sweet soy/garlic/green onions – came in a pizza box, the rest in Styrofoam. The food was easy to lay out in its delivery containers for everybody to help themselves.
It was all good. Not outstanding, not memorable, but uniformly good – even if heavy (the chicken, the tonkatsu, and fries) on the deep-frying.
One exception: the Nara bulgogi beef and noodles were above average – glistening glass noodles with an excellent bulgogi beef sauce and good quality (tender, not stringy) cubed beef pieces.
The chicken – both kinds – was satisfying within the take-out context. Not the best Korean-style fast-food chicken on the market, but still hot, crispy and addictive. The tonkatsu? Your standard breading and deep-frying of a small pork tenderloin – well-cooked throughout. Not the best, but satisfying.
The Rabokki (spicy noodle soup with rice cake, fish cake and three dumplings perched on top) tasted like instant noodles. The fish cake was indiscernible, the dumplings soggy. But, hey, the menu clearly said, “instant noodles”.
Given the current situation isn’t going to change for at least another week or two, we’ll be trying other delivery services, trying restaurants reflecting a take-out mentality.
Deep-fried once a week … drastic times call for drastic measures!