Asia in A Box: Authentic Thai Food At Your Doorstep


aib1

Asia in a Box: cool packaging!

What if I were to tell you that you could get a hot, authentic Thai meal – starter, salad, rice, curry, and noodles (all non-vegetarian) – delivered to your doorstep on a nice tray, by a guy who didn’t look like a bedraggled penguin, for Rs.600? Oh, and did I mention – that’d be a meal for three? I know. I laughed too.

Gautam Krishnankutty, the man who gave us Tai Tai, has a mind as sharp as the blades on some of the very expensive kitchen knives he uses. Making a graceful exit from Tai Tai – and thereby leaving ardent fans like me stranded – he recently began contemplating quantum physics and came up with his very own theorem:

(Bangalore’s traffic problems + limited parking space + diner expectations 2)
X rising operating costs = diminishing returns for fine dining establishments.

His solution: get fine food to diners, instead of attempting to get diners to the food. Thus was born Asia in a Box.

Ordering
How does it work? It’s not rocket science. Look up their menu online. Pick up the phone and call them to place your order, or send it in by email. Simple. Oh, and when your order arrives, they give you a printed menu too – presumably so you can even order by candlelight, when there’s no electricity or when your modem’s down.

I’ve ordered from them three times, once anonymously, getting someone else to order from their phone, in their name instead of mine. Ironically, that meal turned out to be flawless, while I was able to find fault with the meal I ordered in my own name.

ouch!

Red site: ouch!

So let’s start with the Web site. It’s red. Um, yeah, well, I can’t help it, that is the first thing you notice about it. Does that make it hard to read? No, but it sure as hell hurts the eye. My advice: wear sunglasses. It loads quickly, and the menu section is easy to navigate. No glaring spelling errors, and every item is numbered and priced for easy reference.

The phone is answered promptly, by a human who enunciates each word clearly. In my book – a big, big plus. I’m sick of hearing things like “hallomamthisizdomnopizahomaihelpyu?”

When I had someone else order on my behalf, I had them ask specific questions about the items we ordered – how many prawns do you get? which is less spicy, the red or green curry? is one portion of rice enough for two people? – and listened to the responses on a speakerphone (just call me Bond). The answers were swift and sure – and, as it turned out when the food arrived, accurate too.

Delivery time was my only problem. The food took 45 minutes to arrive. Then again, that is exactly what we were promised on the phone, and it arrived on the dot, steaming hot (hey – is that a potential tagline?).

Actual delivery and packaging are a treat. The delivery boy shows up at your door smartly dressed in a red and black outfit and proffers a tray on which several red and black boxes are neatly arranged. Not a plastic bag in sight. Er, no, sorry, you don’t get to keep the tray. The cartons contain silver thermal pouches that retain heat for quite a while. The first time I ordered, we didn’t get to eat until almost 20 minutes after the food arrived, and it was still hot.

The Food…
…is excellent. In a restaurant environment, I would neither expect nor accept anything less from Gautam’s kitchen. However, to achieve the same quality standards on home-delivered food is a challenge that can only be met by a skilled culinary artiste with a sound understanding of food science as well as kitchen and distribution logistics.

Veggies Pork

Stir Fried Veggies (L) and Roast Pork (R)

My first order consisted of just three items: Roast Pork with Char Siu BBQ Sauce; Malaysian Laksa; and Stir-fried Seasonal Vegetables with Oyster Sauce. The pork was delicious, and seemed as if it had been slow-cooked in its sauce; if I’m wrong about that, Gautam, please teach me how to achieve that flavor and texture in under an hour.

The laksa… well, I’m a laksa aficionado with a strong preference for Sarawak laksa over laksa lemak, so I’ll refrain from deep critical analysis and just say that it tasted very good and didn’t seem to contain cornflour as a thickening agent. It did, however, contain the meal’s only disappointment: tough, stringy beef. The veggie dish was far superior to most of its ilk, in that the vegetables were crisp instead of limp; however, I didn’t feel that it was anything to write home about.

The second order – the one I like to think of as the ‘covert op’ order – comprised Fried Prawn with Basil and Garlic as a starter (we got six large prawns); Minced Chicken, Mint and Baby Onion Salad; Red Lamb Curry (Kaeng Phet, more usually made with beef in Thailand); and one portion of steamed rice.

The prawns were exquisite, crisp and spicy on the outside and buttery within. The basil leaves were fried crisp, so they provided crunch as well as aroma, and the merest whiff of garlic rounded out the whole very nicely indeed.

Chicken, Mint and Baby Onion Salad

Chicken, Mint and Baby Onion Salad

I couldn’t get enough of the salad, which was loaded with green beans that,Β  I’m happy to report, remained perfectly erect when held, and didn’t go allΒ  limp and pathetic on me. Just the way I like ’em daahling. In terms of flavor, the salad managed to achieve the kind of sweet-sour-spicy-salty balance that is the hallmark of Thai cuisine.

Lamb Kaeng Phet

Lamb Kaeng Phet

The Kaeng Phet was perfect. I was pleased to find that the lamb was melting in my mouth – and that there was enough of it that I wasn’t left fishing fruitlessly in the curry on my second helping. Another thing: there was no evidence of cornflour having been used as a thickening agent – a low-down dirty shortcut that too many so-called Thai restaurants in this city resort to as a cost-cutting measure.

I want to take a minute to talk about portion size. Both orders were consumed by two people. On the first order we polished everything off. On the second, we couldn’t – despite the fact that my dining companion was my 13 year-old son, who has unaccountably turned into a Giant Vacuum Cleaner this year. Would the order have been enough for three? Just short. Had we also ordered a noodle dish (Rs.100) it would have been a filling meal for three. Our bill was Rs. 500; add the noodles, and that makes it Rs. 600. I don’t know about you, but that’s a fine dining experience I can live with.

I wish more restaurateurs would see the light: home-delivered food doesn’t have to be sub-standard. In fact, it can be pretty darn good. The bar has just been raised. Is there anyone else brave (or knowledgeable) enough to match it? Bring it on, Bangalore.

Asia In A Box
Web: http://www.asiainabox.in
Delivery: 080 25482233/25483344
Delivery timings: 12 noon to 3.30 pm and 7 pm to 11 pm

As of now, Asia in a Box delivers only to the Frazer Town, Cooke Town, Lingarajpuram, Cox Town, Kamanahalli, Richards Town, Jalvayu Vihar, Maruti Seva Nagar, and HBR Layout areas. STOP PRESS: I am just informed that Asia in a Box will be delivering to Koramangala from March 1st onwards. Yayyy! On second thoughts, I will soon be broke 😦

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37 thoughts on “Asia in A Box: Authentic Thai Food At Your Doorstep

  1. Hi suman,
    First off thanks for the lovely review..i appreciate the balance of your view..Sharon you can most certainly get the yummies in Benson town..no problem..the number to call is 25482233 ..cheers..:)

  2. Hey Suman,

    Thanks again for the wonderful review. Can’t wait to try this place out soon. One of these days could you help discover hidden treasure in the Whitefield area? As tempting as all the food sounds in your reviews, our need for instant gratification stops us from venturing the 3 hr round trip into town.

    Dimple

  3. Dimple: Good news for you! Asia in a Box WILL deliver to whitefield once they open in Koramangala, PROVIDED you give them 4 hours’ notice. While that makes a spontaneous meal impossible, it does make a planned dinner something to look forward to.

  4. There i go again.
    Will you STOP writing this blog Suman ? Both wallet and stomach rebel against the wild careering off into Food land that ensues immediately after I read your fabulous reviews.

    Get thee behind me , Satan, etc etc.
    Err.. will they do Palace Road at a pinch?

  5. Love this idea! Will def try this one of the days…it’s March, so hopefully Koramangala is in the list of “Able to” deliver πŸ™‚

  6. Hey Suman,
    The website’s off the server…. any idea of any other contact number? The urge for Thai is absolute!!

  7. ordered from this place after reading your review and i abs agree with your review… just had green mango and papaya salad (decent)… drunked noodles (awesome) … basil fried rice (good) … thai BBQ chicken (great) … quantity was great… quality was awesome… could taste real basil leaves and all other ingrediants… felt pretty authentic… and the taste was fab..

    great review… if you know the owners… please request them to keep the quality, quantity and price reasonably constant…

  8. Fabulous review! My tastebuds are already tingling! Working as I do in a culinary wasteland, viz. Bannerghatta Road (Dairly Circle)s, I have been starved of gourmet cuisine for too long… Any idea if this joint would consider delivering to Dairy Circle (0.5km from Christ College)???

    • Manoj: So there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that you fall outside of both delivery areas. The good news is that they will still deliver, BUT you need to give them four hours’ notice. As I said before: that makes a spontaneous meal impossible, but it does make a planned dinner something to look forward to.

  9. Aaah now that I know it’s Gautam K’s, it all makes sense!

    We tried them last week after their flier landed at our doorstep, and were so pleasantly surprised that a home delivery place would offer such good food and VFM!
    Good going, A in a B- please don’t go the way of other restaurants, that is, downhill- we look forward to more meals from you…

    And also, nice blog, Suman. Came by you via Samar Halarnkar at HT.

  10. Finally ordered in yesterday . Food delivered in a little over an hour as promised. THey are in Hennur , so its a long journey. Ordered the Roast Pork in BBQ sauce, Minced Chicken salad,and the Chicken Drunken Noodles. Denzil effeciently took our order on the phone. It was for two and came up to Rs 350.

    Beautifully served, pleasantly delivered. The only thing that was memorable was tghe Minced Chicken salad. The Pork was rubbery, mostly skin and fat , and I swear , cooked in coconut oil! When I zapped it in the microwave, I kept asking my maid if she had put oil in her hair, as I couldnt get over the sudden olfactory exposion of Parachute hair oil! Tasted good apart from that , but too many ewws. The noodles were good but too glutinous. THe minced chicken was delightful till I discovered a 6 inch long hair in it . I think it was in the mint , but I was very disappointed .

    Still want to call back and re order , as you can see that this is genius cooking, and maybe I picked the wrong day . Plus Sumans reviews are always bang on, so next week I call again !

    • Suman, you have gotta try this starter . I ordered the braised pork spare ribs with fried garlic and cracked pepper. Succulent , melting and falling off the bone contrasted with warm bursts of garlic , and sharp explosions of freshly ground near-chunks of black peppercorns. Man , it was OUTSTANDING.

      The mild Tom Kha was teriffic as was the Shredded Chicken on the menu.

      But the braised pork? I admit I am kinda biased about nicely done pork, but darn, the chef needs a medal.

  11. ordered from them today and even managed to convince them to deliver to the silk board junction as btm layour is technically outside their delivery limits. was pleased that they agreed AND delivered bang on time as it was a spontaneous order.

    did an all veggie meal for two for a lil over 500 (er… ok, we did have some leftovers). did papaya mango salad, stir fried veggies with red chilli sambal, basil and vegetable fried rice, pad thai and green curry. loved all, but the salad and stir fry had a lil too many peanuts. love the packaging. wish they somehow did tub tim grob too.

    was mega impressed with the person who took the order and the one who delivered. very coherent, did not mumble and didn’t sound like bored or meek. mighty pleased overall.

    suman, the links in your article are giving me a 404 error. please to check. and thanks for this recco!

    • Owwie – linkrot how I hate thee! Will fix. Thanks for letting me know. Glad you liked your stuff. You can prob ask for the peanuts to be served separately. And yeah – AIB actually has a decent selection of veggie food. Will pass on the tub tim grob suggestion. Can’t stand the stuff misself!

  12. I tried to get your menu on line.but the response on the inernet was information not available. can you send me the menu online. thanks

  13. Hi Suman,

    Since I am on a catch up spree on your blog (back reading old articles), chanced upon this and decided to share my experience as well.

    It is a very professionally done up place. I had heard a lot about it and was waiting for the kmgl branch to open. Decided to give it a try one evening when i was returning home late and knew we would have to eat out anyways πŸ™‚ Was politely told that delivery to my sarjapur residence maybe a stretch but they would be willing to do it albeit a little delay. Fair enough and since I was on the road anyway suggested that they keep my order ready and I will just swing by and pick it up..

    It just so happens that we are vegetarians so the menu consisted of typical items like Pad Thai, veggie starter and the red curry.

    The pad thai and the starter was good, with a little grouse that the starter for obvious reasons became a little soggy by the time i got it home, but no complaints there had awesome lemongrass and chilly flavours.

    Now red curry was another thing though. Since we are a little picky, I had specifically told the chef/ cook de jour that we did not want any fish sauce in anything. I am not sure if he forgot or whether he used the same wok to make the curry as well, but it definitely stank of fish sauce and so much so that my husband refused to partake any of it. 😦

    Which was really sad coz the rest of the flavours in it seemed quite in place.. I havent tried ordering from there again, call it a mental block or the fact that it seems like tossing a coin to get what we want or not.. sad but true..

    • Hmmmm. Not good for a vegetarian! Since I’m not one, I don’t really know what vegetarians experience, so I appreciate your writing in. And yes, I’m sure it can put you off ordering for a long, long time. Although I will say that *most* Thai food (even vegetarian dishes) are prepared with fish sauce/shrimp paste instead of salt – this is what gives it its flavor – if you made your wishes clear, there was no further question about it.

  14. Hi – me and my friends order lunch (on work days) from Asia in a Box. Recently we couldnt because the place was closed for renoovation? Is it up and running now?? Have been missing the food for a while now….

    Also wanted to know if you deliver on CV Raman Nagar..would love to order at home as well…

    • Shaloo hi, and thanks for reading. AIB Koramangala is open. They were putting in glass frontage πŸ˜€ Not sure about CV Raman Nagar – will pass your query on to the owner.

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