While I’m on a life-long mission of learning how to cook, we do order in quite a bit every single week. I don’t need to explain much: living in a big city, takeout food is a quick, delicious, and super convenient option. There are a few rules that my boyfriend and I are following to get the best out of ordering in. Today I’m collaborating with Hu Kitchen (aka my favorite takeout spot in the entire world!) to share with you some of the strategies that we follow while ordering in. As well as a few of my favorite dishes from the Hu Kitchen menu that will definitely give you a major food FOMO.
But before we begin, let me start by saying that I’ve been Hu Kitchen fan for a few years now. I was lucky to explore this spot while attending classes at NYU—the cafe located on the 14th Street and 5th Avenue, which is two blocks away from the NYU campus where I take a majority of my classes. As it often happens, there are no healthy snacks available on the campus so I was looking for a spot where I can find healthy gluten-free options. As it turned out, Hu Kitchen is a Mecca of all delicious and healthy meals—so it became my one and only spot to eat before classes or pick snacks at during the break.
My go-to meal in between classes is their three sides special. I usually take two sides of broccoli (it’s not just broccoli but addictively delicious broccoli!) and one side of sweet potatoes. Trust me when I’m saying that this combo is very-very yum! The best part is that you can find at Hu Kitchen meals for any diet, from paleo to vegan, low carb to high carb—you name it. What you will not find though is even the smallest trace of is gluten. The entire restaurant is gluten-free.
Being a gluten-intolerant, it’s a torture for me to eat at many NYC restaurants because people have a little understanding of what gluten is. I’m not sure if I told you a story when a chief of a popular local restaurant tried to convince me that wheat berry is a berry and that it’s gluten-free… And if you are sensitive to gluten, you know how many days of pain such “mistakes” could bring to your body. So, if you are gluten intolerant too, Hu Kitchen would be such a find for you as it allows picking any item from the menu without worrying that it’s not gluten-free.
As we later found out, Hu Kitchen also offers at-home delivery so it’s a perfect spot to order cold brew coffees, smoothies, and a full brunch feast to our house when you don’t feel like cooking on Sundays. They also offer weekly specials that are available for delivery too so if you feel like it, you can order an entire feast delivered straight to your house! And if you are planning a big party, they also offer catering. I actually just learned about it and now I know where I’ll be ordering next time we are having friends over!
As I previously mentioned, both Ben and I are very specific when it comes to ordering in so here comes our unwritten (but religiously followed!) rules of ordering in. I wonder if you could relate to any of them?
Takeout Rule #1: Elevate Your Meal
First and the most important rule is that we always use real plates and flatware while eating takeout food. Think about it this way: plastic containers your food comes in serves as a necessity for transporting dishes from the restaurant to your house. But no one says that you should eat from a plastic container while at home. Spend an extra minute to get actual plates ready for when your food arrives and use real, not plastic, utensils. Trust me: your impression from the meal will be even better and you enjoy your delicious meal even more!
My thinking behind this rule goes as followed. If you are eating at home, it literally takes zero amount of energy to pick up actual forks and knives and then just drop them at the dishwasher. So why not elevate your meal and eating it in the most elegant way possible? I’m totally up to eating with plastic flatware while at the café or at the office, but using plastic forks and knives at home just seem too lazy for me. Not to mention that it’s much easier to operate with an actual knife as opposed to its plastic cousin!
Takeout Rule #2: Strategize Your Snacks
Usually, if we order in, we add an item or two as snacks. Sometimes we will use it as an extra something for the days when we are hungrier than ever, sometimes we save those snacks for later in a day—so we always have a few options ready. Usually, my go-to snack option of choice is a smoothie or a juice. These are healthy, easy to grab on-the-go and so delicious!
I think at this point I tested every single juice and smoothie option available at Hu Kitchen and, of course, I have a few favorites. When I’m feeling like eating super clean and healthy, I’ll order Green Means Go, Stop When I Tell You juice. It contains kale, cucumber, apple, pineapple, and lime. All organic, of course! By the way, don’t you just love how Hu Kitchen creates the best names for their products?
When I’m feeling like ordering a smoothie, How to Train Your Dragon Fruit is my absolute fav (also appreciate a smart naming of this one!). I don’t know about you, but I’m a major fan of dragon fruit and mango, and this yummy smoothie contains both of those ingredients. It’s tasty, filling, colorful looking, and not too sweet—an ideal midday snacking combo.
Sometimes we also order a side order of veggies as a snack. As I already mentioned, I’m wholeheartedly obsessed with Hu Kitchen’s sweet potatoes and broccoli, so oftentimes I’ll just order a few of those sides and snack on them throughout the day. It’s healthy, yummy, and so convenient to reheat!
Takeout Rule #3: Coffee Is a Must!
I don’t even know why I mention this tip as #3 as in my life coffee is always first! Basically, it’s my fuel that allows me functioning productively during the low energy days. I have to admit though that I’m a major coffee snob and for the majority of the situations I can’t stand coffee that I order outside of my house. Coffee is one of the most processed foods ever so I’m trying my best to stick to organic options. But from what I experienced, finding a yum organic blend is not that easy. Especially, if you also want to drink it with a non-diary milk.Luckily for me (and my grades at NYU as I’m pretty much useless in studying without coffee), Hu Kitchen offers some of the best coffee options out there.
First of all, their Fire-Roasted Sumatra Blend is organic and fairly trade produced, it doesn’t taste bitter and irritate my stomach, it also comes with a wide array of non-diary milk options. Personally, I prefer coconut milk in my cold brew and for my hot coffee, I go for either almond milk or soy.
When we are ordering in, I always make sure to pick both hot and cold coffee options. First, I finish the hot one (which is still hot when Hu Kitchen delivers it as they know how to properly pack your drinks so there is no leakage) and save a bottled cold brew for the next day. To be 100% honest, I oftentimes I end up having them both in one day!
Takeout Rule #4: The Crack Bar
Finally, can we talk about desserts? Usually, I’m staying away from regular desserts when we are going our as most of them involve gluten and dairy, but in the case of Hu Kitchen desserts, I’m unstoppable! So every time we are ordering in, I always order a dessert… or two!
My number one choice that I’m guilty of buying every time I’m stopping by at the Hu Kitchen location is The Crack Bar. I don’t even question why they named the product this way because it’s seriously addictive. It’s made out of an organic coconut, tapioca, and coconut milk so it’s gluten and dairy-free. The dessert bar comes in two layers, the bottom one reminds me a coconut based granola, and the top one is a delicious creamy frosting. Mmmmm it’s just SO good!
Another favorite is Paleo Walnut Fudge Brownie. Since I’m gluten intolerant, I haven’t touched an actual brownie in years, but from what I remember that’s how they actually taste—and even better! Trust me, you don’t want to know what goes into creating regular brownie mixes available at supermarket… But when it comes to Hu Kitchen desserts, everything is at maximum transparency. Their brownies are coconut and almond flour based so if you are gluten intolerant, you can finally enjoy this classic American dessert!
Do you like carrot cake as much as I do? If so, definitely check out Hu Kitchen’s Paleo Carrot Cake. It’s dairy and gluten free and tastes like a bit more moist version of your typical high-carb carrot cake—but without all the unpronounceable ingredients. It’s yum, not too sweet, and is suitable for a Paleo diet—basically, my dream dessert!
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There you have it, guys, my unwritten takeout rules that I follow every time placing my online food order. I know, it seems like I’m ordering too much but I’m always trying to stretch my order for the next day so I prefer over-order than under-order. I’m not that good of a cook, so when I have a chance to eat freshly cooked takeout food, I don’t feel shy about it!
At the end of the day, every time I’m going out with friends to regular restaurants, I barely could anything because of my gluten problem, so when I have a chance to order from a gluten-free place like Hu Kitchen, of course, I’m getting all the way in!
I wonder what are some of your favorite takeout tips and tricks? What type of cuisine do you order the most from? Anyone else is gluten-free out here? Please let me know in the comments!