[dropcap size=small]A[/dropcap]fter spending 45 hours a week staring at my work screen, lunch break is a precious reprieve.
So imagine my joy – or lack thereof – when my editor declared, too gleefully for my liking, that I should have lunch at my desk for two weeks straight to test out food delivery services that have popped up on the scene.
“I am going to be constantly hungry, and that will make me very cranky,” I warned, the prospect of subsisting on just greens for two weeks already putting a crease between my brows. The thought of having to reschedule appointments and turn down a couple of exciting luncheons wasn’t thrilling either.
This grouchy mood carried on into the first day, when I found myself giving up lunch at Toby’s Estate in Robertson Quay and rushing back to office from a meeting to collect my bright blue carton of Korean bibimbap from Dosirak. Shaking the sauce and ingredients was fun, but returning to an office devoid of colleagues just felt like I had been left out of the party.
Luckily, the rest of the two weeks passed by a lot quicker than expected, albeit with some rookie mistakes on my part. For instance, thanks to a call I had to take at 11.50am on Day 3, I missed the daily cut-off time of 12noon to place my order with Grain (cut-off time has since changed to 10am), and had to settle for lunch from the canteen instead. On Day 6, I ordered up a storm from different vendors with Hawker Express, not realising I had sent riders from Bedok to Newton to get my lunch. The wait ended up being nearly two hours, but my nasi lemak and ramly burger tasted even better to my ravenous self.
The highlight were the days my colleagues camped in and joined me on my quest. New entrant Deliveroo impressed us by delivering cafe nosh like truffle fries and duck confit croissants in just under 32 minutes, as promised. And where I once associated Food Panda with fast-food deliveries from Burger King and Carls Jr, its recent partnership with more restaurants means delicious lunches like slow-smoked beef brisket from popular joint Meat Smith.
In the end, it turned out to be two weeks of much better eating that I expected. So good, in fact, that I was secretly a tad happy to be back on a simpler fish soup on Day 11.
But the next time I crave brunch nosh at 1pm in the office, I’ll know just who to call.
THEY GOT GAME
Tristan Torres, general manager of Deliveroo Singapore, shares how the UK-based new entrant on the local food delivery market sets itself apart from the competition.
How does Deliveroo position itself differently from its competitors?
Deliveroo partners popular restaurants that don’t typically offer takeaway services, like Potato Head and P.S Cafe. Our average delivery time from the minute a customer places his order is 32 minutes, and our app allows you to track the movement and the status of your food.
We contact our customers if deliveries are delayed even for a minute, and compensate them in the form of a voucher.
What do customers expect when it comes to receiving their meals, and how does Deliveroo meet this?
Convenience, speed and whether the food is served in optimal condition. We deliver only one meal per rider, so this allows us to be super-efficient and fast.
What are the challenges working with restaurants versus fast-food outlets?
Getting the packaging and quality of the food right for a good customer experience. I’m always meeting chefs and they are very particular about these standards, so we have to work together to find the right packaging that will keep the food well and also let us deliver it fast.
AT A GLANCE
The who, what, where and when of desk lunch delivery
#1: Saint Pierre Marketplace
What: Healthy salads and tortilla wraps from award-winning chef Emmanuel Stroobant.
Where: Delivery within Ngee Ann City only, with a $10 fee.
How: Orders must be made before 10am. Tel: 6694-4414; E-mail: email@example.com
What: Restaurant nosh delivered in 30 minutes.
Where: Currently delivers to 14 areas such as Bukit Timah, the CBD, Bishan and Tampines. Delivery is $3 flat, with a $5 surcharge for orders less than $25.
How: Enter your postal code into www.deliveroo.com.sg and let the site show you your options.
#3: Park Bench Deli
What: Gourmet sandwiches with generous fillings.
Where: CBD area through Deliveroo. Deliveries to selected areas outside CBD through website (parkbenchdeli.com) at a flat fee of $16.
What: A fuss-free delivery service with a fixed menu that rotates weekly.
Where: Island-wide delivery. Free delivery around the CBD and Marina Bay area, and $9.50 everywhere else.
How: Order and view the weekly menu at www.grain.com.sg.
bibimbap served shaken, not stirred.
Where: Island-wide, with additional $4 to $6 depending on location. Free delivery in the CBD for minimum four boxes.
How: Order at least three hours before you expect the food to be delivered. firstname.lastname@example.org
#6: Food Matters
What: Healthy versions of local, fusion and Western meals.
Where: Anywhere in Singapore.
How: Sign up for a monthly subscription plan at sg.foodmatters.me. Packages start from $40 for four meals to $140 for 20 meals a month.
#7: The Foodist
What: A tasting menu of the restaurant’s highlights.
Where: Minimum order starts from five sets with advance notice.
How: Order online at www.thefoodist.com.sg or e-mail email@example.com
#8: Hawker Express
What: Hawker food from well-loved stalls around the island.
Where: Delivers anywhere, from multiple outlets.
How: Check out the list of hawkers to order from at hawkerexpress.com
#9: Food Panda
What: Recently rebranded to include new vendors like The Assembly Ground, Nandos, 4 Fingers Crispy Chicken and Meat Smith.
Where: Islandwide delivery.
How: Key in your postal code at www.foodpanda.sg to see what vendors deliver to your area.