Since Preston has been on lockdown with the rest of the country, it feels like the number of takeaway deliveries we’ve all been ordering has skyrocketed.
There have been the regular takeaway traders, but also some restaurants that have adapted to the new rules by running a takeaway service. It’s given an even greater choice of food to anyone who doesn’t want to cook, but unfortunately adds on 30 minutes of stressful decision making for families already struggling with the burden of trying to find something that everyone likes on Netflix.
My daughter Wilson and I have ordered from takeaways we’ve never tried until now, with some interesting and mixed results. It’s been a dramatic, culinary rollercoaster for us both, as she’s tried to find somewhere to get salt and pepper chicken. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve attempted to make it ourselves, which turned out to be an appalling defilement of an innocent chicken, whereupon we started blaming each other and cried some more.
The first place we tried was city centre Chinese restaurant Mr Lam, which has some excellent reviews on various sites. We ordered two combo boxes for £8 each, which contained, among other things, noodles, salt and pepper chicken and chips. We were somewhat disappointed as we found it quite bland and greasy. Perhaps the disappointment was partly due to all the fantastic reviews online, because we were expecting something amazing.
I’d order again because they could have just had an off day, and we didn’t complain, which meant they didn’t have the opportunity to rectify it. Also, although the rest of the menu was on the more expensive side for a Chinese takeaway, the Combo boxes were excellent value. We ordered two, but one was easily enough for the both of us.
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There was a salt and pepper chicken drought for a while as Mr Lam had closed and we couldn’t find another Chinese restaurant that was still open. Then suddenly Sunflower Chinese in Lostock Hall was back! We’ve ordered from them twice, and their mixie box was great on both occasions, especially for just £9.99. All of the deep-fried items were light and crispy with very little grease, though when I order it again I will ask that they add a lot more spice as it was very subtle.
The Sunflower mixie box is the perfect takeaway for children to share, making it ideal for those families who are still at the stage where their children circle around their parent’s plates like sharks, pointing at things that they want to try and then spitting it out two hours later into the palm of the nearest adult. I also found the sweet and sour sauce a little bland, so I’ll try the curry sauce next time.
Read more: New Chinese restaurant opening in Preston city centre
My favourite Italian takeaway used to be Fabio’s in Broadgate, but I found that their pizzas were too often between one and two inches smaller in circumference than the size that was ordered and paid for. They use excellent, authentic ingredients, their pizzas are fabulous and their carbonara is outstanding, so it was only the short-sizing that knocked them off the top of my list, to be replaced by Honest Jon in Ashton.
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The red sauce on the pizza base gives a good kick, and the cheese is always mozzarella unless otherwise specified on the menu. The rustic style pizzas are nicely browned and crispy around the edges, which always touch the sides of the delivery boxes.
Takeaway pepperoni pizzas usually turn out to be 10 per cent pepperoni and 90 per cent Margherita, but at Honest John’s it’s less important to make them perfectly circular than it is to ensure that the toppings cover most of the pizza. The service from the owner is so friendly that I find myself saying “awww” after each time I phone an order. I’ve heard rumours that Jon isn’t actually his name, but as “Economical With The Truth Jon” would cost a fortune in signage and I don’t want him to cut off my supply, I’m prepared to call him anything he chooses as long as he keeps making pizzas.
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Of course at the moment, good hygiene when bringing items into our homes is all-important. It’s not easy at all to unpack a takeaway without touching both the outside packaging and the food inside, especially after our just-washed hands already feel clean. However, Wilson and I have found a system that works pretty well.
One of us is the dirty unpacker. They pick up the bags and boxes, open them, take out the cartons and basically touch whatever may have come into contact with other people.
The other person is the clean server, so they don’t touch anything that the dirty one needs to touch. They get out the plates and cutlery and put the food from the boxes onto them. The dirty unpacker puts all the packaging in the bin and then everyone has a good old hand scrub. We’ve been ordering takeaways once a week during the lockdown, so whatever steps the staff have been taking to keep us safe seem to have worked so far.
Read more: New food delivery service aims to rival Uber Eats while keeping money in Preston
Thank you to all the Preston restaurants and takeaways who are still providing us with fantastic food. The coronavirus has laid waste to many businesses in the hospitality sector, and they desperately need support to keep treading water. To the businesses that have had no choice but to close: we hope to see you again soon. Until then, stay safe Preston.
Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines
Have you been eating takeaways during lockdown? What’s your favourite? Let us know in the comments.