Living in New York City, it’s not hard for me to find delicious local restaurants. Even under quarantine, some of the finest food I’ve ever tasted gets prepared just minutes away from my apartment. Not everyone is so fortunate. You can go the meal kit route to receive tasty meals, but the subscription services typically lack food that competes with top-tier restaurants. With MisenBox, you don’t need to compromise. This middleman service lets restaurants ship their food as meal kits to customers across the country. MisenBox solves a problem we didn’t think could be solved, and is an Editors’ Choice pick.
How Does MisenBox Work?
Shipping is the biggest logistical nightmare for any meal-kit delivery service. Many restaurants deliver, but a person on a bike can only travel so far. Meal-kit delivery services, such as Editors’ Choice picks HelloFresh and Hungryroot, deal with shipping bulk packages full of raw ingredients from coast to coast. Prepared meal-kit services, such as Balanced Bites and Fresh N Lean, keep their food fresh before dropping it in a mailbox. Housemade and other services that can’t do that only deliver to select regions, and just can’t compete as effectively in the market.
MisenBox changes this dynamic. By partnering with MisenBox, local restaurants can ship their food as meal kits nationwide (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). The boxes look like any other meal kit, as the food comes wrapped in cold-gel packs to preserve them during shipping. But instead of coming from MisenBox, the food comes from a specific restaurant. For my test, I received two ramen samples from Ramen Museum, a restaurant that used to be New York-only before recently joining up with MisenBox.
This model gives MisenBox an exciting level of variety and flexibility compared to other meal kit services. However, it also means that pricing is inconsistent. Four servings from Ramen Museum costs $75. A seafood paella from Xiquet costs $48. Some pastries cost $28. Not every meal kit is directly comparable to a restaurant menu item, but the prices are generally similar when you consider the number of servings. Shipping costs also vary depending on how much you put in your cart, from $8 to $30 for overnight shipping.
Fortunately, you don’t need to sign up for a subscription. You can buy anything on MisenBox a la carte. MisenBox also offers discount codes. You even get 10 percent off for tagging MisenBox if you post your food on social media.
MisenBox’s partner restaurants cover a wide range of cuisines. Asian offerings include ramen, dumplings, pho, and Korean BBQ. There’s a Taco Tuesday bundle and Michelin star Spanish seafood dishes. These are all in the Savory Collection. If you hop over to the Bakery Collection, you’ll see scones, biscuits, and sticky buns.
MisenBox’s menu may suddenly change, since it depends on partner restaurants. Some items were sold out; some restaurants dropped from the menu. The good news is that the service is growing rather than shrinking. On the MisenBox website, you can check out monthly updates that detail the restaurants that are joining the service. I was excited to see some love for soul food and African cooking. The website provides plenty of information for curious restaurants looking to sign up.
MisenBox supplies additional information when you click a menu item. You’ll see beautiful pictures along with cooking instructions, the list of ingredients and allergens, the earliest shipping date for the meal kit, and background on the restaurant and head chef. You can leave a review, if you so desire.
While these individual listings are very useful, I would appreciate global search options. I wish I could filter meals by allergens instead of checking each meal. There are vegetarian and vegan meals, but folks with those diet restrictions should have a way to quickly see those options, lest they turn to Editors’ Choice pick Green Chef.
Cooking and Eating With MisenBox
While I didn’t try this out for myself, I saw that MisenBox sells tickets for virtual cooking events. You receive a meal kit and cook it alongside the chef at the scheduled time. It’s great to see meal-kit delivery services lean into culinary education, not just convenience. Editors’ Choice pick Blue Apron teaches you more about food as you cook it, too.
I received my sample from Ramen Museum, so this is more a review of that restaurant specifically rather than MisenBox as a whole. But again, connecting you with specific restaurants is MisenBox’s appeal. Like fellow ramen delivery service Ramen Hero, my Ramen Museum kits came in frozen pouches that I warmed in boiling water before combining them in a bowl. The printed instructions note how long it takes to boil certain ingredients, and has a QR code for watching video instructions.
I tried the Tonkotsu Black Mayu Ramen with Pork Kimchi. As with Ramen Hero, I found the reheated pork, while well-marbled, to be a bit rubbery. However, I greatly enjoyed everything else. The noodles were filling. The cloudy broth was meaty, spicy without being overwhelming, and had satisfying onion notes. The bok choy, kikurage, and especially the bamboo were very flavorful. It definitely tasted like something I would eat at a restaurant, because that’s what it was.
My partner tried the Spicy Miso Ramen with Corn. True to its name, this one was overwhelmingly spicy until we watered it down a bit. In a world full of under-seasoned meal kits, that was a somewhat pleasant surprise. She also tried some of the whipped cream cheese curry, an “Ajihen” ingredient Ramen Museum suggests you add halfway through eating to change the flavor. She didn’t taste much of a change, and preferred the ramen before adding the cheese. However, overall she enjoyed the dish and agreed it was restaurant-quality food.
Close the Distance
MisenBox democratizes meal-kit delivery services. It’s the best of both worlds: fantastic food with strong identities from unique local restaurants safely delivered nationwide through one standard system. When it comes to price, search options, and available food, there’s some inherent unpredictability that comes from being a shifting coalition, rather than a static monolith. However, the diversity is more than worth it. MisenBox joins the ranks of our Editors’ Choice pick meal-kit delivery services.
For more on our top-rated services, check out Blue Apron vs. HelloFresh: Which Meal-Kit Delivery Service Reigns Supreme?