Review: WanderSups by Hannah Gregory, Bury - 'Extraordinary food, your own little culinary adventure'
- Credit: Liz Heath
Our food reviewer Mark Heath and his wife Liz tried the Vietnam heat at home menu from Bury-based WanderSups by Hannah Gregory. Here's what they made of it...
First up, before we get to the chow - and trust me, I have a lot to say - a little explainer about WanderSups.
It's the creation of Hannah Gregory, a super-talented chef from Bury, who reached the quarter-finals of MasterChef last year.
During this very difficult time for the hospitality industry, well-travelled Hannah's been offering weekly menus from around the world, available to collect from her and then heat/assemble at home.
The concept caught our eye, and thus we jumped in on Vietnam week. Ordering is easy - contact her via Instagram, pay via bank transfer and then arrange a collection time on either Friday or Saturday. Delivery is available too, just liaise with Hannah.
Right, to the food. We brought our offerings home in brown paper bags, and excitedly unpacked our treats - you get plenty of little pots, bags and containers all full of wonderfully fragrant, delicious looking goodies.
As well as a three-course meal, you get snacks and 'sweets & treats' - in our case it was Vietnamese prawn crackers and sweet chilli dipping sauce for the former, and sesame peanuts and a spiked mango smoothie for the latter.
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All of them were superb - crunchy, ever-so slightly fishy crackers with easily the best sweet chilli dipping sauce we've ever had, incredibly moreish caramelised peanuts with a sesame coating, and a creamy, smooth, sweet and zesty smoothie. Wow.
After that introduction, we suspected we were on for an exceptional meal, and so it proved.
First up, snow crab spring rolls. Now, you know sometimes when you order a spring roll from a takeaway they can end up being greasy, and filled somewhat stingily?
No such problems here. After heating them in the oven as per instructions - Hannah gives you a sheet with all the details you need in that respect - these rolls were crammed with meaty crab and rice noodles, with a perfectly crunchy, not at all oily pastry wrapping, and another tasty dipping sauce.
It was my first time having crab spring rolls, and I sincerely hope it's not my last!
Onwards then, to the main event - Pork Bun Cha, with a Tofu option available for vegetarians.
Just gathering all the various elements of this dish together was compelling and exciting - there was broth to heat, pork to fry, noodles to cook and various leaves/pickles to ready.
That may all sound a bit daunting, but trust me, it wasn't - all explained superbly on the aforementioned instructional sheet.
What we ended up with was a fragrant, vibrant, steaming bowl of noodles, packed with freshness and flavour.
The pork was melt-in-the-mouth tender and tasty, with crunch from the veg and a soul-warming shot of umami from the broth and noodles. An absolute joy to eat.
Indeed, my better half actually snapped a rather unflattering shot of me drinking the remnants of the broth from the bowl, such was my determination to finish every drop. I have no regrets.
All that remained then, was dessert - and another new experience for us. Kem flan, a Vietnamese creme caramel with coffee syrup - again, with instructions as to how to present it.
Boy, what a finish to the meal. Sweet and creamy creme caramel, contrasted and complemented well by the slightly bitter coffee syrup.
And thus, our adventure was at an end. We'd been to Vietnam and back, all from the confines of our kitchen and dining table - Covid-compliant culinary tourism!
I don't think I've ever said this before, in my lengthy history of eating food and then opining about it in print and online, but I couldn't fault a thing. Extraordinary.
You can tell from the food that Hannah's ingredients are top notch - the award-winning Lavenham Butchers among her suppliers.
That too is a good sign.
I briefly mentioned it above, but Hannah offers vegetarian options for all of her dishes.
Water chestnut spring rolls were the alternative to the snow crab.
We went back
We were so impressed with our meal that we returned the week after to try Hannah's Thai menu. Again, it was excellent.
Keep an eye on her Instagram for what's up next - this week is Brazil, followed by a Valentine's week special.
Hannah's normal menus are £35 per person (£45 for Valentine's), so our adventure cost us £70.
For food of such quality, plus the experience, that's superb.
Honestly, we couldn't decide. I'm going to have to take the cop out route and say all of it.
Extraordinary food, a fun and exciting concept - your own little culinary adventure.
Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience. The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer. The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications.