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iPhone App Review: Chinese Food In Minutes

iPhone App Review: Chinese Food In Minutes

June 21st, 2010 by

Chinese Food In Minutes is a cooking app that has recipes and video from the UK television show of the same name. The show follows Ching He Huang as she coaches two people in each episode, who have never cooked Chinese cuisine before, through three complimentary dishes.

The iOS app features recipes from all 13 episodes, one-touch menu creation from the recipes, instant shopping lists from your recipes (with the ability to leave out duplicate items), and even some video clips from the show demonstrating cooking techniques for a select few dishes.

When you first load the app it plays a short introductory video which has no means of being skipped. This worried me a bit since there was no length indicator so I had no way of knowing how long I was stuck watching, but the clip was short and you are only forced to sit through it once.

Once inside the app you are presented with two ways to view the recipes: by category or by episode. You can also search by dish name or ingredient, and filter the results to only include dishes that have prep and cooking time of less than some arbitrary amount of your choosing.

Each recipe includes cooking time in the title, so you can quickly scan the list if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Then you simply add a dishes to your favorites list or the menu for the night. From within the Menu screen you can have the app suggest items to compliment a dish which you’ve already chosen. From with each Recipe you can view a summary that includes prep and cook time, an ingredients list, and of course step by step cooking instructions (and some recipes include a video from the series). The ingredients list can be added to the in-app shopping list with a tap.

The Shopping List sorts items by recipe or by grocery aisle, and has an “Email this shopping list” button on the screen as well if you want to shoot off the list to have someone else to do the shopping.

Pros

  • full-featured recipe app
  • attractive design
  • one-tap shopping list from each recipe (that also offers to leave off duplicate items!)
  • menu suggestion from one main dish
  • handful of videos are helpful if you’ve never seen the show
  • settings allows choice of Imperial or Metric units (essential feature but could have been neglected or simply set based on which country you bought the app from)
  • Recipes seem simple to follow hard to mess up, though I’m sure I’d find a way if I tried hard enough

Cons

  • smallish set of recipes, since they are drawn only from the 13-episode run of the show, and the app does not feature all recipes from the show (not sure why)
  • only one soup (it’s traditional hot and sour, so at least I can try my hand at that!)
  • App is a bit pricey considering the small number of recipes, and that the competition is free and features an essentially unlimited set of recipes drawn from various websites. Then again, these are specialized dishes from a renowned chef (in the UK, anyway), and cookbooks are generally far more expensive.

Final Thoughts

Since Chinese Food In Minutes only offers 29 recipes, it seems a bit on the high-priced side for a recipe app. Overall however it is very well designed and the recipes seem interesting and easy to prepare. The app itself gets out of your way, letting you get right to shopping for and preparing a meal with just a few taps. If your mouth is watering after seeing the dishes described in the show’s Wikipedia article, then you will not be sorry you bought this app.

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