Six By Nico Manchester, 60 Spring Gardens, Manchester, M2 2BQ – Visit Now
Introducing Home-X, the cook-at-home experience by the always-excellent Six By Nico. Created for obvious reasons, namely Lockdown 2: Electric Boogaloo, the debut offering is four courses of Thai street food-inspired cuisine, known as the Bangkok box, available from their home-x.com website.
Priced at a very reasonable £60 for two, it includes a starter, a main, two side dishes, a cheese course (complete with spiced chutney) and a bottle of good quality white wine. The first thing to note is that you don’t need fine dining chef skills to serve this up, far from it. One of the drawbacks of some kit meals is that they rely on precise timing, extra ingredients and a deft cooking hand – none of which I possess. This is one of the few kit meals I’ve attempted over this long, long year that a literal child could put together, without compromising on quality. If you’re a Michelin trained cook, this won’t matter but to the rest of us, it certainly does.
The starter is a great way to kick-off the meal: hot and sour tom yum soup, with three fat, healthy prawn dumplings floating in it. Heat up, scatter on some of the included Thai herbs and enjoy a powerfully hot Thai soup, that’s as good as you’d find in Chinatown‘s otherwise peerless Try Thai. It’s non-too-heavy, a light but bold way to start things off.
There’s a side dish of crispy pork pad thai, but it might as well serve as a second starter as it’s a fine standalone meal. Served cold, with crispy greens, chunks of pork, rice noodle and a spicy prik nam pla dressing, topped off with crisped onions and peanuts, it’s a crunchy, cooling bite to eat, contrasting sharply with the hot soup starter.
But the main course, Panang red curry, is the show-stopper. A slow-roasted chicken, cooked on the bone, served with perfect pak choi, sweet potato and that phenomenal red curry sauce – literally one of the most memorable creamy curry sauces I’ve ever had the good fortune to taste. It also comes with some baby sweetcorn, but I throw them in the bin (no slight on Nico, this is a purely personal decision, they’re the only foodstuff I refuse to eat).
Then the cheese course, Landana 500. The 500 stands for the number of days this stunning hard cheese has been left to age. It’s exceptional, and I confess I spent the entire cooking process rewarding myself with chunks of it ripped straight from the pack. But if you’re more refined than I, you can pair it with the pineapple and nigella chutney, placed on a water cracker (box included).
The dessert is a triumph. Ostensibly rice pudding, it’s so much more. Infused with cardamom and swirled up with shavings of toasted coconut, it comes with a salted bean curd caramel to swirl on top, as well as a pot of exotic fruit compote. There are a lot of flavours involved in this, but they all work. It’s utterly relaxing, lazy and luxurious – and again, astonishingly easy to prepare, considering how good the final result is.
Is Home-X as good as an actual meal at Six By Nico? No, but that’s because it’s one of Manchester’s best restaurants and it’s impossible to recreate the buzz, the sounds and smells of that amazing space. Is it a stellar substitute until we get vaccined-up and can finally eat out and live again? Absolutely. The quality is incredible, and while it might not be quite as dainty and fancy as a typical Six By Nico experience, it’s just as delicious. Home-X is one of the finest and best-priced kit meals out there, without doubt.