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CookUnity Review

Great Tasting Ready-to-warm Single-Serve Meals

Updated in September, 2023

CookUnity is a that sends you ready-to-warm refrigerated prepared meals, in single-serving trays. The meals can be warmed by microwaving them for 2-3 minutes or heating them in a pre-heated oven for 8-15 minutes. They are basically a competitor to Freshly, which I’ve reviewed before. They are, however, far superior in quality, flavor and variety. The meals taste very much like the leftovers from a high-quality, perhaps adventurous, home or restaurant meal. Indeed, despite the fact that they come pre-cooked and all in one tray, I’d say they rival the best meal kits.

Single-serve meals do serve a very niche clientele. They didn’t work for us as a family, but now that my kids are away at college, they fit my “I don’t feel like cooking” periods.

The Food

CookUnity’s main selling point is the wide selection of prepared meals they offer, though this has changed greatly as of lately. They used to offer over a hundred choices of dishes, more than any subscription meal kit or supermarket that I know, but they have lately downsized to about 60. They run the gamut of proteins and cuisines, from the exotic to the mundane, from the high caloric, to the diet minded. There are ample choices for vegetarians, vegans and those who keep special diets.

The second selling point in the taste and quality. While there are some duds, most meals are quite good and some are even excellent. The meals included special ingredients, such as hand-made sausages and forbidden rice, and mostly offered a balance of meats to vegetables to carbs. All the nutritional values are listed so you can choose when you order.

Most meals are well sized to fill without overstuffing.

We tried both microwaving and heating them in the oven, and there wasn’t a huge difference in results – with the exception of steak. Few steaks could survive reheating in the microwave, so if you don’t want to fire up your oven, go for other types of meats.

The meals come with an expiration date of either 5 or 7 days, so if you are getting for the whole week you probably should look at the dates when you get them and prioritize the ones that will expire first.

As far as I can tell, CookUnity contracts with professional restaurant chefs in major cities where CookUnity has commercial kitchens, and the chefs conceive of the meals and prepare them. In addition to providing chefs with the kitchens, CookUnity also buys the ingredients, packages and ships the meals and is in charge of marketing and sales. All the chefs need to do is cook.

The Plans

CookUnity’s basic meals cost between $11 and $13.50 each depending on how many you order. Some of the meals – progressively more of them – which have more expensive ingredients have an added cost, usually $4 to $7. The cost is competitive with meal kits and take out, particular now that inflation has hit us hard. The meals were definitely large enough to satisfy – but pay attention to calories. Shipping used to be free, but is now about $11. Sale tax is also added.

It is easy to skip meals, and you can even suspend your account for up to 2 months. Unsubscribing is simple as well.

The Packaging

CookUnity meals come in a microwave and oven-safe tray made out of paper waste product with a plastic seal. They are not compostable, but CookUnity used to claim they were recyclable. However, while they have the recycle symbol on them, they don’t have a number. I am thus guessing they are not recyclable at all. It’s a pity, because if they used wax instead of plastic, they probably could be composted and would eliminate a lot of waste (though probably wouldn’t be oven safe).


The meals trays are covered by a plastic film that you throw away, and come with a paper sleeve listing the ingredients and nutrition facts, as well as cooking instructions and date of expiration, which can be recycled. Some meals have sauces or vegetables in removable plastic containers within the trays. You are supposed to remove these before you cook them. These containers are usually recyclable, or you can wash them and reuse them.

CookUnity ships their meals inside an insulated bag, with small freezer packs in the bottom and/or top. The bag and freezer packs are picked up when you get your next set of meals.

The Shipping & Delivery

CookUnity meals are now delivered

When I first ordered CookUnity they were shipping to my area through UPS. They were shipping on a Monday for Wednesday deliver. UPS was delayed with my first order, and they just sent it back. I got credit for the meals I didn’t get, which I used to order mostly the same meals a couple of weeks later.

Since then, they’ve changed deliveries in my area and now they apparently deliver the same day the food is prepared. I had no problems getting my meals in subsequent deliveries. Once they texted me to tell me they were going to be late, but weren’t.

Customer Service

Customer service has been stellar. They’ve been prompt in answering my e-mails, solved problems when they existed and responded to texts.

The Meals

These are some of the meals we tried. Photos and individual reviews follow the listing.

  • Lamb and Pork Meatballs with Parmesan Polenta with Tomato-Basil Sauce: A+
  • Creamy Polenta with Wild Mushroom Ragout & Porcini Cream: A
  • Cajun Seared Shrimp and Orzo Salad with Fennel Salad & Remoulade: A
  • Teriyaki Roasted Salmon with Brown Rice, Roasted Carrots & Brussels Sprouts: A
  • Roasted Salmon Teriyaki with Tricolor Quinoa & Roasted Romanesco: A
  • Braised Lamb Sabzi with Cumin Seed Rice: A
  • Filipino Adobo Pork Ribs and Jasmine Rice: A
  • Mushroom Ravioli with Sautéed Mushrooms in Truffle Cream Sauce: A-
  • Shrimp Pancit Canton Noodles: A-
  • Teriyaki Grilled Shrimp with Vegetable Fried Rice: A-
  • Garlic Shrimp in XO Sauce with Steamed Wild Riceberry & Jasmine Rice: A-
  • Spicy Lobster Diablo Tacos with Homemade Coleslaw
  • Seared Salmon & Cauliflower Lentil Mujadara with Spicy Za’atar Chimichurri: A-
  • Chipotle Lime Salmon with Brussels Sprouts: A-
  • Chicken Tagine: A-
  • Stewed Moroccan Lamb Meatballs with Brown Rice and Herb-Yogurt Sauce: A-
  • Hanger Steak and Coconut Forbidden Rice: A-
  • Churrasco Steak with Chimichurri Rojo Sauce and Cilantro-Lime Rice & Roasted Zucchini: A-
  • Blackened Hanger Steak with Chimmichurri Sauce & Curry Potato Gratin: A-
  • Nikkei-Style Steak Fajitas with Japanese Rice and Cilantro Sauce: A-
  • Guajillo Beef and Cheese Enchiladas: A-
  • Short Rib Ragu over Pappardelle Pasta with Fresh Ricotta: A-
  • Handmade Merguez Sausage in Moroccan Couscous Stew with Harissa: A-
  • Lamb Kebab with Turmeric Hummus and Roasted Sweet Potatoes: A-
  • Classic Québécois Poutine (Cheese Fries with Gravy) with Applewood Smoked Bacon: A-
  • Spicy Beef Birria Tacos with Hibiscus Pickled Onions & Guacamole: B+
  • Chicken Tinga Tacos with Fresh Guacamole: B+
  • Plantain Crusted Mahi Mahi with Arroz Moro: B+
  • Seared Salmon over Farro & White Bean Salad with Jicama-Corn Salsa & Cucumber-Cilantro Sauce: B+
  • Shrimp Scampi over Spaghetti with Spiralized Zucchini: B+
  • Pork Al Pastor Tacos with Pineapple and Salsa Verde: B+
  • Rustic-Style French Beef Ragu with Pasta Shells: B+
  • Spicy Yemenite Shrimp Curry with Jasmine Rice & Fresh Snap Peas: B+
  • Cajun Baked Swai Fish with Collard Greens & Pan Sauce: B+
  • Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet with Chinese Sausage & Fried Rice: B+
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu with Pink Peppercorn Sauce with Peppercorn Sauce & Sautéed Green Beans: B+
  • Middle Eastern Braised Beef Flatbread with Parsley, Pine Nuts & Tahini-Yogurt-Mint Sauce: B+
  • Five-Spiced Braised Pork Belly with Broccoli & Fried Rice: B+
  • Braised Lamb Shawarma with Pearl Couscous with Red Onion-Sumac Salad & Creamy Tahini: B+
  • Pasture-Raised Rack of Lamb with Creamy Potato Gratin: B+
  • Gochujang Baby Back Ribs: B+
  • Mushroom Ragu with Crispy Polenta Cakes & Porcini Cream: B
  • Grilled Sea Bass with Lobster Sauce & Truffle Mashed Potatoes: B
  • Creamy Miso Udon Noodles with Salmon & Spinach with Cremini Mushrooms: B
  • Greek-Style Chicken Gyro Pita Wrap with Handmade Tzatziki: B
  • Spiced Chicken With Pork Chorizo Roasted Peppers: B
  • Beef Shank Peanut Stew with Vegetables & Rice: B
  • Italian Meatballs with Homemade Tomato Sauce: B
  • Moroccan Lamb Meatballs: B
  • Crispy Harissa Lamb Meatballs over Yellow Rice with Cucumber-Tomato Salad and Red & White Sauces: B
  • Rustic French Beef Ragu with Potato Gnocchi: B
  • Pork Asado Bao Buns: B
  • Plant-Based Massaman Curry with Brown Rice and Peanuts: B-
  • Classic Croque Monsieur with Frisée Salad: B-
  • Aleppo Spiced Cod with Roasted Brussels Sprouts: B-
  • Lemongrass BBQ Chicken with Garlic Java Rice: B-
  • Sabzi-Rubbed Flat Iron Steak over Pearl Couscous Risotto with Crispy Shallots: C+
  • Bangkok-Style Linguine with Thai Basil Beef Sauce with XO Sauce & Scallions: C+
  • Adobo Pulled Pork Tacos with Cabbage Slaw & Pickled Onions: C+
  • Herb Roasted Salmon with Truffle Mash: C+
  • Filipino Chicken Tocino Bowl with Garlic Rice & Pickled Papaya: C+
  • Bacon Corn Chowder with Potatoes: C
  • Fajita Bowl with Impossible ‘Chorizo’ with Brown Rice and Chipotle Crema: C
  • Nikkei-Style Shrimp Fajitas with Japanese Rice and Cilantro Sauce: C
  • Lemon Tilapia with Cauliflower and Mashed Potatoes: C
  • Coq au Vin with Tagliatelle Pasta: C
  • Creamy Mushroom Chicken with Grainy Mustard Mashed Potatoes: C
  • Garlic Hanger Steak with Roasted Vegetables and Avocado-Cilantro Lime Sauce: C
  • Mexican-Style Beef Stew with Red Potatoes and Hominy: C
  • Braised Beef and Polenta: C
  • Tonkotsu Ramen with Chashu Pork Belly and Spinach & Corn: C-
  • Herb Marinated Steak with Ratatouille and Rice Pilaf: C-
  • Chicken alla Cacciatora: D (undercooked)
  • Piri Piri Spiced Chicken with Stewed Peppers: D (undercooked)
  • Grilled Tagliata Steak with Arugula, Parmesan and Lemon: D
  • Bulgogi Japchae (Stir-Fried Glass Noodles with Marinated Beef) with Charred Vegetables: D

VEGETARIAN

Creamy Polenta with Wild Mushroom Ragout & Porcini Cream: A

This might look like gruel, but it’s really a comforting hug in a plate. The dish is exactly what the name describes and it tastes exactly like you hope it will taste. The polenta is soft and sensuous, the mushrooms earthy and delicious. Microwaving this dish did make the mushrooms a bit rubbery – an expected problem – but they weren’t overly so and the taste made up for it. I’m sure they’d be better if reheated in the oven. The portion is a little small – more like a snack than a meal -, but I’ve still ordered it

Mushroom Ravioli with Sautéed Mushrooms in Truffle Cream Sauce: A-

This was actually a very good dish, but not worth the premium price. Both the ravioli and the cream sauce were very tasty, though a bit on the mild side. It really needed some Parmesan-type cheese to bring it up a notch. It also needed some of the advertised truffle flavor – I couldn’t taste it at all.

Mushroom Ragu with Crispy Polenta Cakes & Porcini Cream: B

This was a pretty tasty dish, but it was very, very salty. I’m someone who likes highly seasoned food, but this was over the line. I was also not much of a fan of the texture of the polenta cakes. They have a thin, crispy layer but below that they are quite soft, almost the consistency of a flan. You have to try to feel the very fine grain in the polenta. I think I’d have preferred them to be grittier. The mushrooms were a bit tough/chewy, but I’d expect that on microwaved mushrooms. Still, the dish was tasty, it just needs far less salt.

Plant-Based Massaman Curry with Brown Rice and Peanuts: B-

This was an OK Massaman curry. It was quite spicy – unusual for a Massaman curry – and the flavors weren’t as complex or inviting as those in Thai restaurants. The rice was a bit chewy. In all, it was fine, but not something we’d order again.

Fajita Bowl with Impossible ‘Chorizo’ with Brown Rice and Chipotle Crema: C

My daughter turned this bowl into two burritos by putting it into a couple of tortillas. She thought it was fine, compared it to Chipotle’s bowl, though she found it a little less flavorful. In all, she felt the dish lacked acidity. It came with a tasty chipotle crema, but it didn’t have the necessary acidity. What it really needed was salsa – she added sour cream, but it wasn’t enough – and some guacamole would be good as well. Finally, she felt it had too much cabbage.

SOUPS, SANDWICHES AND WRAPS

Classic Croque Monsieur with Frisée Salad: B-

This was pretty good for a microwavable croque monsieur. However, the bread was a bit too thick for the filling and there wasn’t anything remarkable about it. The greens were extremely bitter, to the point that I couldn’t eat them and I usually like bitter greens. I don’t think I’d order it again.

Bacon Corn Chowder with Potatoes: C

This was just OK. It was basically the same quality of the chowder you get at the supermarket, but in a smaller portion. The flavor was pretty mild, and it didn’t have enough bacon to brighten it up. I wouldn’t get it again, but it did remind me that supermarket soup is a good choice for lunch.

Tonkotsu Ramen with Chashu Pork Belly and Spinach & Corn: C-

I was pretty disappointed in this meal. It was basically just noodles with pork belly and corn kennels plus a couple of spinach leaves in a very salty broth. The pork belly itself was plain and not very flavorful and the broth was just salty and one note. Honestly, I prefer Top Ramen to these. Plus it takes about as much work. I’d definitely not order it again.

TACOS

Chicken Tinga Tacos with Fresh Guacamole: B+


These tacos make a pretty good lunch. I liked the flavor of the chicken, and the overall meal. However, there is room for improvement. First, the tortillas are too brittle. The break when folded, even after steaming in the microwave. They might consider switching to flour tortillas which seem to be sturdier. Also, street tacos require 2 tortillas per taco, and they only include one. This means you end up with a mess. Second, the filling is in the spicy side and is in real need of sour cream to bring it al together. Fortunately, I had some, but it should be included in the dish.

Spicy Beef Birria Tacos with Hibiscus Pickled Onions & Guacamole: B+

These tacos were good but pedestrian. There wasn’t anything really wrong with them, the meat was tasty enough without being outstanding, the guacamole was fresh and the pickled onions added a nice umph. The only problem were the tortillas, which were hard and crumbled when folded. Still, the dish wasn’t exciting or novel. It didn’t make a case for tacos. I probably wouldn’t order it again.

Pork Al Pastor Tacos with Pineapple and Salsa Verde: B+

Overall, I enjoyed this dish – it was fine for lunch. The pork (which is a mush, not discreet pieces) had a nice smoky flavor that managed not to taste like liquid smoke. The tortillas were OK – I did wrap them in a wet paper towel and microwaved them to make them be more flexible. I wasn’t a fan of the salsa verde – which was a spicy, liquidy type rather than the more solid bright green type shown in the pictures -, but the tacos didn’t really need it. It was a good sized portion for lunch – four street-sized tacos – but I was left feeling like something was missing. Not sure what that would have been, though.

Adobo Pulled Pork Tacos with Cabbage Slaw & Pickled Onions: C+

This dish was OK. The flavor was good, mostly because the slaw with pickled onions was great and went well with the somewhat spicy sauce. The problem was in the execution of the pork and tortillas. The pork was probably overcooked, when reheated it became one solid mass that I had to put force to break apart. Some of the resulting pieces were extra crispy. The tortillas were also too hard, even when microwaved for twice as long as recommended. They broke apart when trying to fold them. I ate this the day after it was delivered, so it wasn’t an issue of them sitting in my fridge for too long. This is also a rather light portion, there is about as much pork as there is slaw.

PASTA

Rustic-Style French Beef Ragu with Pasta Shells: B+


This is basically pasta shells with a ground beef sauce. Tasty but it’s in need of Parmesan cheese, which wasn’t included.


SEAFOOD: SHELL FISH

Cajun Seared Shrimp and Orzo Salad with Fennel Salad & Remoulade: A

This was a good, flavorful dish. We’d order it again.

Garlic Shrimp in XO Sauce with Steamed Wild Riceberry & Jasmine Rice: A-

While not as good as the Cajun shrimp above, this was a tasty dish.

Shrimp Pancit Canton Noodles: A-

It was very tasty. It could do with more mushrooms, but the shrimp had a good size and texture and the noodles were great.

Teriyaki Grilled Shrimp with Vegetable Fried Rice: A-

My husband was overall happy with this dish. He found the shrimp very tasty and didn’t have any criticisms.

Spicy Lobster Diablo Tacos with Homemade Coleslaw

The lobster tacos themselves were very tasty, and on their own, probably worth the upgrade. The coleslaw, however, had very little dressing so it was basically cabbage.

Shrimp Scampi over Spaghetti with Spiralized Zucchini: B+

We ordered this dish twice. The first time, my husband loved it. He thought it was tasty and there was a good ratio of shrimp to pasta. The second time, he wasn’t as enthusiastic, though he couldn’t pinpoint exactly why it was less tasty.

Spicy Yemenite Shrimp Curry with Jasmine Rice & Fresh Snap Peas: B+

My husband had it. He liked it. He didn’t think it was too spicy. Beyond that, he didn’t go into details.

Nikkei-Style Shrimp Fajitas with Japanese Rice and Cilantro Sauce: C

My husband had this meal and he gave it 3 stars. He couldn’t really explain why it was only “OK” for him, but he did eat it towards the end of its shelf life and might have enjoyed it more if it was fresher.


SEAFOOD: WHITE FISH

Plantain Crusted Mahi Mahi with Arroz Moro: B+

This was a good dish, though the mahi mahi and the rice really needed the sauce to flavor them – the sauce was quite good, though.  The main problem is that there was too little rice, so the dish felt unbalanced.


Cajun Baked Swai Fish with Collard Greens & Pan Sauce: B+

Another solid, flavorful dish. It was too heavy on the collard greens, however, and it really needed a starch for balance. The sauce, however, was tasty and it was a suitable portion.

Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet with Chinese Sausage & Fried Rice: B+

This was another tasty dish. We enjoyed the flavor of the vegetables and the light breading on the dish. There was, however, too much rice vis a vis the other ingredients.

Grilled Sea Bass with Lobster Sauce & Truffle Mashed Potatoes: B

The piece of bass was too small for dinner. The sauce was good but not out of this world. The mashed potatoes were good, though.

Aleppo Spiced Cod with Roasted Brussels Sprouts: B-

My husband enjoyed this dish but wasn’t too enthusiastic. He wouldn’t mind ordering it again, but would prefer a different one if given the choice.


Lemon Tilapia with Cauliflower and Mashed Potatoes: C

My husband was underwhelmed with this dish. He wasn’t specific but said he would not order it again.

SEAFOOD: SALMON

I also don’t like salmon, so all of these dishes were enjoyed by my husband.

Teriyaki Roasted Salmon with Brown Rice, Roasted Carrots & Brussels Sprouts: A

“Anything immersed in Teriyaki sauce is going to be good,” or so said my husband when I asked him what he thought of this meal. He was happy with it. He liked that the Brussells sprouts had been sliced, so it wasn’t the huge whole vegetables he got in a previous meal.

Roasted Salmon Teriyaki with Tricolor Quinoa & Roasted Romanesco: A

This seems to be the newer incarnation of the dish above. Once again, my husband liked the sauce and therefore liked the dish.

Seared Salmon & Cauliflower Lentil Mujadara with Spicy Za’atar Chimichurri: A-

This was pretty good and my husband liked it. He was pleasantly surprised by the spiciness. The salmon was well cooked and he enjoyed the mujadara. His only criticism is that the dish needed some greens to make it outstanding, particularly as a summer dish.

Chipotle Lime Salmon with Brussels Sprouts: A-

This was a good dish. There was a good mixture of textures and tastes and the chipotle sauce was very good. The portion of salmon, however, was on the small side.

Seared Salmon over Farro & White Bean Salad with Jicama-Corn Salsa & Cucumber-Cilantro Sauce: B+

The salmon was good, it was well cooked, nice portion and the sauce was tasty. the white bean salad was very unremarkable, however.

Creamy Miso Udon Noodles with Salmon & Spinach with Cremini Mushrooms: B

My husband liked this, but he wasn’t wowed. A day later, he can’t remember anything about it to give feedback. So I guess the dish was just not memorable.

Herb Roasted Salmon with Truffle Mash: C+

The salmon and mash were fine, but the Brussels sprouts in the dish were giant. They were about twice the size of a regular Brussels sprout and lacked flavor. We probably wouldn’t get this again.

CHICKEN

Chicken Tagine: A-

by Israeli chef Einat Admony, chef-owner of Balaboosta in NYC.

This was a pretty good rendition of chicken tagine with couscous. The chicken was a little tough, but it was flavorful and the couscous was quite good when mixed with the vegetables.

Chicken Cordon Bleu with Pink Peppercorn Sauce with Peppercorn Sauce & Sautéed Green Beans: B+

Chicken cordon bleu is a hard dish to get right because it’s hard to cook chicken breasts without making them dry.  This problem is even greater when you have to reheat them.  So it’s not surprising that the chicken here was somewhat dry – it would have been almost miraculous if it wasn’t.  Fortunately, the sauce helped moisten it, but I think what it needed was more ham.  Just a tad more.  Still, it was a pretty good dish.

Greek-Style Chicken Gyro Pita Wrap with Handmade Tzatziki: B

This is my third time ordering this dish. What keeps bringing me back in the soft, doughy texture of the pita after it’s reheated in the microwave, I just love it. The problem with this dish, however, is that the chicken is under-seasoned. I think it might have gotten slightly better this time, but you still need to add salt to it. I also think it could use some lemon juice. Finally, it’s messy to eat, but that’s just a warning, not a dis.

Spiced Chicken With Pork Chorizo Roasted Peppers: B

by chef Dustin Taylor, last at AC Hotel in LA

The first couple of times I had this dish, I really enjoyed it. I found the chicken nicely spiced, moist and tender, the rice flavorful and harmonious with the hearty chorizo/pepper mix. Later, I felt the chicken was a bit scrawny and needed more flavor, and the Mexican chorizo seemed less integrated into the other ingredients. There also seemed to be les peppers. Finally, the dish stopped including the chorizo, even though it stayed in the name. I don’t think they offer the dish anymore, but if they do again, I’d probably try it.

Lemongrass BBQ Chicken with Garlic Java Rice: B-

The rice was tasty, especially after I added the sauce. The chicken was mildly spiced and somewhat better than OK on its own. Unfortunately, the sauce didn’t add much to it. The sauce is really what is lacking. I don’t think I’d order it again, unless they changed the formulation.

Filipino Chicken Tocino Bowl with Garlic Rice & Pickled Papaya: C+

This was an Ok and even tasty dish – as long as you could get a bite with all the ingredients together. Separate, the chicken was dry and not very flavorful (and I wasn’t particularly fond of the flavor), the rice lacked seasoning, and the tomatoes (sent fresh but which explode in the microwave) were too sharp. The only actual flavor comes from the pickled papaya, and as long as you are able to get a couple strands in each bite, you are good. But it’s too inexact a science. I wish the dish was good in itself and the papaya added to the dish, not made it.

Coq au Vin with Tagliatelle Pasta: C

by French chef Cedric Nicolas, former sous chef at Belle Vie Food & Wine in LA (now closed)

This is a premium dish. I actually found this to be a lazy dish. There is really no excuse to not make a good coq au vin, it’s a simple recipe and one that is ideal as a leftover. But this one was a failure. The main sin is that I don’t believe the chicken had been braised in the red wine sauce, despite the fact that that’s the whole point of coq au vin. The chicken was bland and had not incorporated any of the flavors of the sauce – my guess is that it was cold when it was plated alongside it. Most tellingly, it had not been stained at all by the red wine, which is what happens when you braise chicken in a red wine sauce for a while. The sauce itself was rather pedestrian and there wasn’t very much of it. Still, the dish wasn’t unpleasant to eat, so I gave it a C, but it certainly did not meet expectations. If you do want to eat a good coq au vin, here is the recipe I’ve used for the last 30 years.

Creamy Mushroom Chicken with Grainy Mustard Mashed Potatoes: C

This dish was just “blah”. The sauce just lacked flavor, and there wasn’t enough of it for the mashed potatoes. It’s a pity because it’s a relatively easy dish to make, it just needs a tad more mustard and probably some cognac, sherry or wine to brighten the sauce. The mashed potatoes could be lighter too. Still, perfectly OK to eat – but not for the price.

Chicken alla Cacciatora: D (undercooked)

by NYC chef John DeLucie, chef at Bedford&co , Ainslie, and Empire Diner, The Lion, and The Waverly Inn

I’ve gotten this dish thrice. The fist time I thought the chicken, particularly the skin, was tasty and the sauce tasted exactly like you’d expect it to, though perhaps it was a little too heavy on celery for my taste. I was a bit disappointed at the size of the portion. The chicken itself was sort of scrawny and there was no starch as a filler (except for carrots, but I’m not fond of carrots myself). The second time my husband had it, and he didn’t like the sauce as much. The third time, however, it was very undercooked – red next to the bone. For that reason, I wouldn’t order it again.

Piri Piri Spiced Chicken with Stewed Peppers: D (undercooked)

The chicken was undercooked, and close to raw near the bone area. The rice and peppers, which I tried before I cut into the chicken, were quite good, the rice was standard yellow rice and the peppers were nicely stewed/spiced and not too spicy. It would be a good dish if the chicken was cooked properly.

DUCK

Duck and Pork Cassoulet with Cannellini Beans. A-

This is a good, but not perfect dish. It’s a nice, complex dish that would be pain to do at home. It convinced me I actually like cannellini beans (they melt in your mouth without the powdery texture of other beans). The duck and pork sausages (two!) are very tasty. But what brings it down a notch is the very pedestrian tomato sauce. I’m not /that/ picky, but it reminds me of Ragu or even Chef Boyardee (shudder). Improve the sauce, and this would be perfect.

Grilled Duck Leg with Orange-Coconut Sauce with Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Broccolini: B-

The problem with this dish is that the duck didn’t go with the vegetables. The duck was nicely seared, with a light smoky flavor. It was a bit dry – but that would be hard to avoid. It was utterly a savory dish. It could add some spicing, but didn’t really need much. I ended up having duck for dinner at a Michelin starred restaurant, and that one was barely better than the one from CookUnity. The sweet potatoes and broccoli in the orange-coconut sauce, however, were very sweet and completely discordant with the duck. They were good in themselves, but belonged in a different dish. Their flavor notes were just too different to eat together (or even one after the other, as I did). From the title, it sounded like the sauce would go on the duck, not on the veggies. I love duck a l’Orange, and duck can go very well with sweet flavors – but not here because of the spicing of the duck. I wouldn’t get this dish again.

MEATBALLS

Lamb and Pork Meatballs with Parmesan Polenta with Tomato-Basil Sauce: A+

This is a very simple, peasant style dish. It tastes like you expect it to taste, the tomato sauce is quite ordinary and the only thing that elevates the meatballs is the presence of pine nuts (brilliant idea). But sometimes simple dishes and familiar flavors are what you want, and this is the definition of comfort food. I get it pretty much every time I order CookUnity.

Stewed Moroccan Lamb Meatballs with Brown Rice and Herb-Yogurt Sauce: A-

This was a tasty dish, but there weren’t enough meatballs, even for lunch. The amount of rice was fine. We’d order it again.

Crispy Harissa Lamb Meatballs over Yellow Rice with Cucumber-Tomato Salad and Red & White Sauces: B


This dish was good but super spicy. I expected spice, given that it’s harissa, but it was very much at the limit of what I can eat. I liked the consistency and flavor of the meatballs, they were crispy on the outside and smooth inside – but they completely fell apart. It would probably be smarter to eat them with a spoon. The yogurt sauce was definitely a must. In all, I don’t think I’d order it again for myself, but might be good for someone with a higher tolerance for spice (and mine is low).

Italian Meatballs with Homemade Tomato Sauce: B

This is one of the new “protein only” dishes. The meatballs and sauce are good, they taste pretty homey, and if you are avoiding carbs no matter what, they seem like a good choice. But I ended up missing the carbs to soak up the sauce and wished the meatballs were lighter. Still, as a low-carb dish it works well.

Moroccan Lamb Meatballs: B

by chef Dustin Taylor, last at AC Hotel in LA

My husband had this dish for lunch one day. He can’t remember eating it at all, so it wasn’t memorable. My own recollection is that he liked it but wasn’t enthusiastic.

BEEF – STEAK

Hanger Steak and Coconut Forbidden Rice: A-

by Filipina chef Stacy Bareng, chef-owner of Tagalog Takeover pop up in LA

This was my favorite of the hanger steak dishes we had. It’s also one we warmed in the oven. As you can see, it wasn’t cooked medium-rare as on the picture in the website, but the beef was tender and flavorful, and I could still taste the beef flavor. The forbidden rice was tasty and fun. The broccolini, however, didn’t work. It was chewy.

Churrasco Steak with Chimichurri Rojo Sauce and Cilantro-Lime Rice & Roasted Zucchini: A-

This was a very good dish for being a re-heated steak. The beef was pretty tasty, a bit spicy, but not something out of this world. The rice tasted very Latin American – like the sort of rice I’ve had in cheap market food stands in Mexico and Central America. There is something nostalgic about it, that I do enjoy, but it’s not a flavor profile I otherwise seek out. The red chimichurri, however, was quite good, and really brought the dish together. In all, I might order it again.

Blackened Hanger Steak with Chimichurri Sauce & Curry Potato Gratin: A-

I don’t usually like CookUnity’s steaks reheated in the microwave, but this one worked. It was tough, but you expect that from hanger steak, and the chimichurri was really delicious. The curry really didn’t work in the potato gratin, however. I like curry as much as anyone, but it has no place next to chimichurri and cheese (unless it’s a tasteless cheese like paneer). Moreover, it was one note. But the chimichurri sauce was good enough to make up for it.

Sabzi-Rubbed Flat Iron Steak over Pearl Couscous Risotto with Crispy Shallots: C+

I was really disappointed by this dish. The beef was pretty tasteless and whatever slight flavor the sabzi rub might have given it, wasn’t particularly pleasant. The risotto was marginally better, but also on the tasteless side.

Garlic Hanger Steak with Roasted Vegetables and Avocado-Cilantro Lime Sauce: C

by NYC chef Andres Mendez

This was probably my least favorite dish of the bunch. The steak wasn’t very flavorful, and it was completely overwhelmed by the spicy sauce. The vegetables where OK, but one-dimensional. I wouldn’t order it again.

Herb Marinated Steak with Ratatouille and Rice Pilaf: C-

by chef Dustin Taylor, last at AC Hotel in LA

This is another strike-out by Dustin Taylor (who fortunately redeems himself with the next dish). I liked the texture of the beef, tender but somewhat chewy/tough, but it had practically no seasoning and it was almost tasteless. What is worse, the smell and flavor it did have was somewhat fishy. I don’t have any fish in the fridge, so it couldn’t have acquired it from something else. The pilaf was nice enough, but the ratatouille was mostly eggplant and zucchini, with little in the way of onions or peppers. It’s winter, so I understand the latter, but still! This is not a dish I’d order again.


Grilled Tagliata Steak with Arugula, Parmesan and Lemon: D

by NYC chef John DeLucie, chef at Bedford&co , Ainslie, and Empire Diner, The Lion, and The Waverly Inn

This is the 3rd subpar steak dish I get from CookUnity, and this helps to cement my opinion that steak just does not lend itself to being cooked in advance and re-heated. This steak was tough, a little chewy and not all flavorful. I did like that it came with a fresh side salad, but it also lacked flavor. I don’t complain often that a meal has too much steak and too little salad, but that was the case here. In all, I would not order it again.

BEEF – OTHER

Nikkei-Style Steak Fajitas with Japanese Rice and Cilantro Sauce: A-

Simple but very tasty lunch. The meat has a nice marinade and it goes great with the peppers, rice and aioli. I’ll definitely order it again.

Guajillo Beef and Cheese Enchiladas: A-

I’m not a huge fan of enchiladas, but I decided to give these a try. I was quite pleased. The beef filling was tasty, the rice was good, and the combination of all with the sour cream worked very well. It was also a very filling dish but that left me wanting more.

Short Rib Ragu over Pappardelle Pasta with Fresh Ricotta: A-

This was a very nice, satisfying meal. Exactly what it advertised itself to be. It was a tad too spicy for my taste, and I think the portion could have been bigger – it left me hungry. But it’d be good for lunch or when you’re not too hungry.

Middle Eastern Braised Beef Flatbread with Parsley, Pine Nuts & Tahini-Yogurt-Mint Sauce: B+

This “stew” has the consistency of bolognese sauce – it’s made with ground beef -, and a slightly spicy, very tomatoey Middle Eastern flavor profile. By itself, it’s too intense/acidic, but the yogurt sauce mellows it wonderfully. As a combination, it’s among the most flavorful, homey dishes I’d had at CookUnity. What brings it down is the flatbread. It’s *extremely* hard. More like a thick, dense cracker than the pita bread you expect. The problem with that is that it can’t absorb the stew – plus it’s not that pleasant to eat. I’m taking away a star for that reason. I don’t know if the bread is meant to be that hard or if the problem was with microwaving it. Next time I’ll test it before I do, and perhaps cover it with a moist paper towel. Or just eat it with my own bread (I’ll have to make sure to get some). But you definitely need *something* to absorb the liquidity of the sauce and balance the acidity.

Beef Shank Peanut Stew with Vegetables & Rice: B

This dish was completely underseasoned. I’d be surprised if they used any salt at all. It was fine after I salted it, the meat was a bit fatty – but you expect that from a shank – and the sauce could have used more complexity. It might be better to actually cook the meat in the sauce, rather than add it later. But in all, it was a pleasant dish.

Rustic French Beef Ragu with Potato Gnocchi: B

This dish was fine but it could be improved. The gnocchi were a bit too chewy and dry in parts. There just isn’t enough liquid sauce to withstand the heating up process. I also think the gnocchi themselves could have used more flour and less potato to make them a bit lighter. The sauce was tasty but a little too sour/intense, it didn’t really taste French, though now thinking about it perhaps the acidity came from wine (though it didn’t taste boozy). If the sauce was thinner maybe the gnocchi could have absorbed more and counterbalanced it.

Bangkok-Style Linguine with Thai Basil Beef Sauce with XO Sauce & Scallions: C+

This was an OK meal. It was simple noodles and mostly unseasoned beef with a liquidy sweet soy sauce that gave the whole dish flavor. It was pleasant enough to eat, but not interesting or complicated enough to bother ordering it again.

Mexican-Style Beef Stew with Red Potatoes and Hominy: C

I was rather disappointed in this stew. It just lacked flavor. The meat was tender, though one large piece was pretty fatty, but it lacked seasoning. There was little sauce to speak of and what there was didn’t add much flavor to the rice. I’m also not sure what made this stew Mexican beyond a little bit of spiciness. I wouldn’t order again.

Braised Beef and Polenta: C

by Filipina chef Stacy Bareng, chef-owner of Tagalog Takeover pop up in LA

On the one hand, there is nothing I can fault this dish for. It tasted exactly like what I expected it to taste. On the other hand, there are more delicious ways to braise beef, some wine and caramelized onions would have done wonders. Still, a satisfying meal.

Update: I got this dish for a second time, and it now came with only a tiny bit of sauce. There was too little to even moisten the meat and polenta, and the meat was overcooked and terribly dry. Without the sauce, it was also rather unseasoned. I wouldn’t get it again. (Note: photo is from the first time I got it).

Bulgogi Japchae (Stir-Fried Glass Noodles with Marinated Beef) with Charred Vegetables: D

This dish was utterly bland – not what you’d expect from bulgogi. It was edible, “not gross” but not in the least flavorful. There was absolutely no complexity to the sauce. A big fail

LAMB

Braised Lamb Sabzi with Cumin Seed Rice: A

by Israeli chef Einat Admony, chef-owner of Balaboosta in NYC.

This dish tasted exactly what I expect lamb sabzi to taste. It’s a dish of Persian origin, tangy and fragrant with Middle Eastern spices.

Handmade Merguez Sausage in Moroccan Couscous Stew with Harissa: A-

by French chef Cedric Nicolas, former sous chef at Belle Vie Food & Wine in LA (now closed)

This was a very tasty dish. The merguez sausages were delicious, if much smaller than those shown, and the whole dish tasted very home made. Definitely a winner. For some reason I enjoyed it less the second time around, but it may just be how I was feeling.

Lamb Kebab with Turmeric Hummus and Roasted Sweet Potatoes: A-

by Kentucky born chef Akhtar Nawab, owner of Alta Calidad in New York, Otra Vez in New Orleans, and Prather’s on the Alley in Washington, DC

These were kofta-like rather than kebabs per se, as the lamb was ground and mixed with spices, but it was very tasty nonetheless. Kofta tend to be dry, and this was no exception, but it was no drier than pretty much every other one I’ve ever made or encountered. They came with a cumin spiced hummus, which tasted lightly of curry and was also very tasty. It worked as a dip for both the sweet potatoes and lamb. I’m not a huge fan of sweet potatoes, but these were quite good.

Braised Lamb Shawarma with Pearl Couscous with Red Onion-Sumac Salad & Creamy Tahini: B+

This was an overall tasty dish. I liked the lamb very much. It was moist and soft, without much fat, and had a pleasant, mild lamb flavor. The couscous, OTOH, was just OK. It was tasty enough, but nothing special – more could have been done with it. The big miss was with the tahini sauce. It was too bitter and not acidic enough, and didn’t add anything positive to either lamb or couscous. Perhaps if there had been more onions it would have worked, but there weren’t enough to have them in every bite. Still, an overall tasty dish.

Pasture-Raised Rack of Lamb with Creamy Potato Gratin: B+

by NYC chef John DeLucie, chef at Bedford&co , Ainslie, and Empire Diner, The Lion, and The Waverly Inn

This was a premium dish, almost restaurant-priced at $19. Unfortunately, while it was good, I don’t think it was worth it. The lamb chops were tasty and juicy enough, but they were underseasoned. They needed the accompanying gelatin to brighten them up, but the flavor of the gelatin hid the lambiness of the chops. The potato gratin was very tasty and satisfying in itself, but it matched the lamb very badly. The flavors were not at all complimentary – the strong cheesy flavor in the gratin overwhelmed the lamb, so the two components had to be eaten separately and with sips of water in between. Scalloped potatoes would have been a better choice.

PORK

Filipino Adobo Pork Ribs and Jasmine Rice: A

by Filipina chef Stacy Bareng, chef-owner of Tagalog Takeover pop up in LA

The ribs were very tasty, moist and tender. I also liked the rice quite a bit. It came with bok choy which I don’t like, but my dog does. that gives you a discount and, if I’m subscribed at the point when you claim such discount, might give me one as well for future purchases. As always, look to see if there are better discount deals elsewhere.

Classic Québécois Poutine (Cheese Fries with Gravy) with Applewood Smoked Bacon: A-

I was hesitant to order this dish because of the many reviews saying that the fries were soggy. And yes, they were soggy. If you are going to microwave French fries and then put hot gravy on them, they are going to get soggy. What I wonder, though, is if this dish could be re-imagined to warm the fries in an air fryer.

In any case, the fries were fine for soggy fries. The curds and gravy were good, the bacon was nice. Probably as good a poutine as you are going to get in the States without making it yourself.

Gochujang Baby Back Ribs: B+

by Korean-American chef Esther Choi, chef-owner of Mokbar and Ms.Yoo in New York City

I liked these tangy and tender ribs and really enjoyed the sweet corn. The rice was just OK.

Five-Spiced Braised Pork Belly with Broccoli & Fried Rice: B+

The pork belly and fried rice were good, though a sauce might have elevated them. The broccoli was too dry.

Pork Asado Bao Buns: B

This dish is fine but it could be sooo much better. The pork itself is great, it’s not really roasted pork but shredded pork cooked in some sort of soy-sauce based sauce. It’s very tasty. The coleslaw is fine, basic but there is nothing wrong with it. The problem are the buns. They are too small and too rigid. There is too much filling for the four mini buns and they break apart easily, so you can’t really overfill them. The portion overall is in the small side, I was still left hungry. I think this could be improved greatly with another type of buns, ones that can withstand prolonged refrigeration for longer and remain pliable