Just moments ago, my family and I received our first EASI delivery! Canberra’s local food delivery franchise delivered our self-service order from Asian restaurant 106 Hotpot contact-free via a bright yellow-clad courier in a face mask. These health protections, including keeping 1.5 metres apart, matter in our present state of social distancing because of COVID-19.
I received a phone call from EASI informing me my meal was being delivered outside. When I stepped out onto my landing, the food was already set out in a refrigerated box and the courier was standing at the bottom of the steps, waving a cheery hello.
Once inside, we opened up our bags and it was like “food Christmas” as everything was in there for us to prepare a delicious meal ourselves.
106 Hotpot, at 106 Alinga Street in the Canberra CBD, is a food-train style restaurant offering a fusion of Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisine. It boasts a menu that looks comforting, which is something we all want in these uncertain times.
So now we are out in the backyard, having set up a cooking space. The table holds our little cooker, a dual saucepan, the soups and four trays of ingredients. We have chosen the Thai tom yum and Japanese sukiyaki soups.
We uncover a tray of thinly sliced beef, a tray of mushroom and tofu, and some exotic looking greens. Our fourth tray is the most intriguing: long fat noodles, some scrumptious looking little food parcels and brightly coloured balls resembling candy.
Placing our dual saucepan on the cooker, we empty a generous slosh of our soups into one section of it.
Newbie error #1: don’t overfill the saucepan. As it heats, the soups begin to froth and bubble. Also, we need space to put in the ingredients as well. We turn on the cooker and pause… how do we cook hotpot?
Is there a technique or do we just use our instincts? Wisely, we turn off the stove and turn on YouTube.
Three hotpot tutorials later, we have a basic idea of how to do it so we turn the stove back on.
The novelty of our hotpot kitchen has enticed three of our kids to get involved, and all of our pets!
The soups begin to bubble again. We throw the thinly sliced beef into both broths. But in our enthusiasm, we overcook the beef.
Newbie error #2: the meat is sliced so thinly it only needs about 20 seconds in the boiling soup. So we make a second attempt and this time the meat is tender and delicious. I relish the fatty streaks that melt in your mouth.
Now that we have experienced success, everyone begins to cook at once, each putting in the ingredient they most want to taste.
The mushrooms are firm and meaty. I will definitely order more of them next time.
The large triangular chunks of tofu are pillowy soft and squishy with the juices of the broth. I hide them from the kids and eat them both myself. The noodles are fat and slurpy with a luxurious texture; they absorb the flavour of the soups.
Those delicate, coloured balls that intrigued us are varieties of fish balls containing urchin, flowering chicken meatballs and fish cakes with egg among others.
106 Hotpot’s menu on the EASI app is extensive. If you do not have the capability at home to make your own hotpot, you can request the restaurant to do it for you, or you can purchase the hotpot equipment cheaply from them and keep it for next time.
The menu also offers ice-cold beverages from Anonymous Fruit & Bubble Tea. My tall dragonfruit yoghurt drink tastes just like an exotic ice-cream float. It has five eye-catching layers of flavour.
Starting with the bubbles at the bottom, the luscious layers of juice and yoghurt make for a pretty and delicious refreshment.
We have thoroughly enjoyed our first hotpot experience. It was not only tasty, but interactive and a fun diversion during our enforced isolation.
EASI not only delivers food from more than 300 local restaurants, they also provide groceries from a range of partners. Their on-demand delivery enables people to order groceries without going to the supermarket. EASI can deliver to within a 50km radius of any restaurant, so customers in Queanbeyan and the surrounding Canberra region can also enjoy takeaway deliveries through the app.
Look out for special offers such as $10 off your first five orders.