We don’t know about you, but food delivery services are quite literally right up our street.
And much to our delight, tons of them have been sprouting up and gaining traction in Singapore lately – Deliveroo, FoodPanda, Hawker To Go to name a few – and restaurants like The Tiffin Club and Uogashi have started their own in-house delivery services as well.
Putting 8 of these services to the test, we see which ones really deliver.
Number of restaurants listed: 210
Info: Order at www.whattoeat.com.sg, via What To Eat app or call 6396-6366; 11am to 11pm daily
My bill: Prawn balls with salad cream ($18) and honey pork ribs ($12), delivery fee ($2.99), GST ($2.31) from Oasis Taiwan Porridge in Toa Payoh Lorong 6
Time taken: 50 minutes
Delivery charge: $2.99 islandwide, including Sentosa, minimum $30 order. Pre-order up to 14 days in advance
Ordering is straightforward and I’m done in a matter of minutes. After placing my order, I get a verification code via e-mail, followed by an e-receipt when my delivery is complete.
The warm food comes in 50 minutes, within the stated time frame of 45 to 75 minutes. Both dishes are properly sealed in takeaway boxes.
The day after my order, I get an e-mail requesting feedback. The listing of restaurants on the site includes user ratings, which is helpful when you are spoilt for choice.
Number of restaurants: More than 100
Info: Order at www.ubereats.com/singapore or via UberEATS app; 11am to 10pm daily
My bill: OMG Burger ($22.47, right) from Jewel Cafe+Bar in Rangoon Road
Time taken: 30 minutes Delivery charge: Free, $3 currently waived, no minimum order
UberEATS delivers mainly to the Central Business District, Orchard Road and River Valley area.
Placing the order is fuss-free and I like that there are food pictures on the menu to whet the appetite.
The food comes promptly, in the estimated 30 minutes, and I can track the driver via the app.
The burger comes in a simple plastic container, with the bottom burger bun soggy from the juicy patty. The fries come in a paper bag and while they are still slightly warm, the crispness is gone.
After the delivery is made, I receive an e-receipt of my bill that includes a clear breakdown of the route and time the driver took and the distance he covered. This is certainly a plus point that the online transportation network company can ride on.
Hopefully UberEATS will offer more food options and islandwide delivery soon.
Number of restaurants listed: 70
Info: Order at www.gourmettogo.com.sg or call 6352-2622; 11am to 2.30pm and 6 to 9.30pm (weekday), 11am to 9.30pm (weekend)
My bill: (Above, clockwise from red bowl) Tofu salad ($11.70), chawanmushi ($9.40), tempura udon ($21.10), survival charge ($4.30), delivery charge ($4), from Nara Japanese Restaurant in Thomson Road
Time taken: One hour
Delivery charge: $4 to $14, depending on the distance from the restaurant; minimum order of $25; $5 surcharge for orders below $40; additional 10 per cent “survival charge”
While I can make my order in under five minutes through an app or by clicking on the website, the two-step ordering system at Gourmet To Go is troublesome.
As I click the items I want, there is a “Dining Calculator” that adds up my bill. However, after scrolling up and down the site, I realise there is no “check-out” button to place my order. Instead, I have to call in to confirm the order. This process takes about five minutes as I have to give the staff the relevant food codes as she takes my order.
The food arrives neatly packaged, with the soup for my udon packed separately to prevent soggy noodles. The salad dressing and dipping sauce for the tempura are also packed in separate containers.
I like that the liquids are covered with extra clingwrap to prevent spills. The disposable chopsticks provided come from the restaurant too, so it feels more professional than normal disposable cutlery.
My issues are not with the food, but with the service. I do not get a receipt with my delivery and because I ordered on the telephone, I do not have a record of the transaction.
There is also an additional 10 per cent “survival charge”, which the website says is to cover the cost of delivery operations. I think this is unnecessary, especially since other services do not have such fees.
I’m not sure it is worth the hassle ordering through this service.
Number of hawkers listed: 20
Info: Order at www.hawkertogo.com or call 6291-0508; 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6 to 9.30pm (weekday), 11am to 9.30pm (weekend)
My bill: Half a roast chicken ($12, right), half a steamed chicken ($12, centre), two portions of rice (50 cents each), surcharge ($5), survival charge ($2.50), delivery charge ($10), from Rong Hua Yuan Hainanese Chicken Rice in Bedok South Road
Time taken: One hour
Delivery charge: $4 to $14, depending on distance from hawker; minimum order of $20; $5 surcharge for orders under $40; additional 10 per cent “survival charge”
Like its sister delivery service Gourmet To Go, I have to call in to order from Hawker To Go.
The person who picks up the telephone does not take my order, but asks for my contact number and tells me someone else will call me back. I wait 10 minutes for that call.
The three-month-old service has signed on few hawkers and, for my location in Toa Payoh North, I am able to order only from Rong Hua Yuan Hainanese Chicken Rice.
The patient staff member on the telephone says I should be able to see more options and admits there have been “technical glitches” with the system. Nevertheless, he takes my order for chicken rice.
The warm chicken and rice come packed in the usual styrofoam takeaway boxes, along with packets of sauce.
Like with Gourmet To Go, I have more issues with the system than with the food. I much prefer to do the entire transaction online instead of having to call.
Number of hawkers listed: About 200
Info: Order via hawker.today app; 11am to 9pm daily
My bill: Roast duck rice ($5.50), char siew rice ($4.90), chicken noodles ($5.90), service fee ($1), delivery fee ($4.50), from Jia Le Hong Kong Roasted Food in Upper Aljunied Road
Time taken: 45 minutes, within the 40 to 100 minutes time frame
Delivery charge: From $4.50, no minimum order for delivery, surcharge of $3 for orders below $12
Two weeks ago, only two hawkers were listed on the app for delivery to Toa Payoh North – Jia Le Hong Kong Roasted Food and Ruby Industrial Cafeteria.
After I place my order for Jia Le, a confirmation page pops up with a three-minute countdown as I wait for the order to be confirmed.
There is no confirmation after three minutes. So I have to click on the countdown button again and wait another three minutes before it is confirmed.
Then, I receive a text message saying it has been confirmed. It gives me the order number and estimated time of arrival.
As I am managing all the orders for this road test, I forget that I have a confirmed order and place another one with Jia Le. I get another confirmation SMS.
Realising my mistake, I send a message via Facebook to hawker. today. I wait 10 minutes for a response, but am told that it is unable to cancel my second order as the driver has picked up both meals.
I am told that in the app, the name of the driver and his mobile number is indicated, a handy service for any last-minute changes.
The deliveryman, Wilson, arrives promptly and when I apologise for making him go to the same place twice to collect food, he says he received my second order before he left the stall.
Shortly after he leaves, I get a text from him wishing me a good meal. It is a nice personal touch, rather than getting a generic automated message.
The food is warm and the noodles not clumpy.
Fans of hawker food will be pleased to know there are more options available.
Hawker centres such as Maxwell and Tiong Bahru food centres are listed as well – click on the centres for the full list of hawkers available.
Number of restaurants listed: 1,200
Info: Order at www.foodpanda.sg, via the foodpanda app or call 6589-8669; 9.30am to 10.30pm daily
My bill: Doughnuts with salted egg dip ($6, above left),mushroom enchiladas ($14, right), delivery charge ($3),GST($1.61), from Fix Cafe inAhHoodRoad, off BalestierRoad
Time taken: 40minutes
Delivery charge: $3,minimum order of $15
Like Deliveroo, I get a pop-up window indicating that the wet weather will affect the delivery time and the food will take up to an hour to reach me.
However, my order is not delayed, coming punctually within the initial estimate of 40minutes.
As I am waiting, I get three text messages to update the status of my order. The first tells me my order has been received, quickly followed by the next message that Fix Cafe is preparing my order. I get a link to track the status of the order via the app.
The last message lets me know my order has been picked up and the rider is on his way. The food is still slightly warm on arrival, although the oil from the doughnuts has turned the paper bag translucent.
The day after the order, I get an e-mail asking me to rate the delivery service and food on a scale of one to five stars. The star ratings are indicated on the restaurant listing on the website.
I also like that the website tracks the eateries I have viewed on the site, which is helpful when there are many restaurants to sift through.
Number of restaurants listed: More than 200
Info: Order at www.feastbump.com
My bill: Egg tarts ($6.20, above left), XO carrot cake ($10.80, right), delivery fee ($8), from Old Hong Kong Kitchen in Square 2 in Sinaran Drive
Time taken: One hour
Delivery charge: Some of the restaurants have no delivery fee or minimum order, but others do, including SK Catering (up to $80 for delivery) and Revada Food & Services (minimum order: $220)
FeastBump does not make deliveries. Instead, restaurants which have signed up with it or services such as Lalamove and CarPal ferry the food to customers.
That is why I like that on its website, delivery fees and minimum order rates are listed clearly. That is important because some places do not charge for delivery and do not have a minimum order; others, especially catering services, may charge a high price.
Unlike many sites which take only same-day orders, on FeastBump, I can order up to two months in advance, which is good for planning events.
Restaurants on FeastBump use Oddle, an online-ordering system, which makes the process hassle- free. This redirects me to the restaurant’s shopping carts, so I know that prices are not marked up.
I get an SMS confirmation saying my order will arrive between 1.30 and 2pm. It arrives just after 1.30pm.
The food comes in plastic takeaway containers and is not warm, despite the prompt delivery.
The deliveryman is from Old Hong Kong Kitchen. He hands me my food and leaves. We both forget that I need to pay him. About an hour later, he returns, saying he forgot to collect payment.
Some restaurants on FeastBump allow customers to pick up their food – a good way to avoid delivery charges.
Number of restaurants listed: More than 1,400
Info: Order at www.deliveroo.com.sg, via Deliveroo app or call 3163-5199; noon to 11pm daily
My bill: Eight chicken wings ($17.12, right) and Jaeyook Burger ($8.45), delivery fee ($3), from Choo Choo Chicken in Toa Payoh Lorong 4
Time taken: 70 minutes
Delivery charge: $3, with minimum order of $25; $5 surcharge for orders under $25
Only 28 restaurants deliver to my office in Toa Payoh North and there is a clear estimate of how long the orders will take from the individual restaurants.
It is raining when I make the order. A window pops up on the website indicating that weather conditions may delay the delivery.
The ordering process is smooth and painless, but the wait is longer than I expect.
About 20 minutes after my order is confirmed, I get a text message saying that it may be delayed by up to 10 minutes. I end up waiting 70 minutes, half an hour more than the 40 minutes that was initially indicated.
It seems that the late delivery is not due to the wet weather.
I ask the deliveryman – or Roo-men as they are called – about the late delivery and he tells me apologetically that he is from the Aljunied zone, but has been sent to Toa Payoh instead. Deliveroo’s delivery strategy keeps riders in specific zones to minimise delivery time.
While my food is no longer hot, it is the most well-packaged among all the delivery companies I try. The food comes in a Deliveroo paper bag with my receipt attached.
The two types of chicken wings – honey soy and spicy – are neatly separated in a sturdy paper box. I also receive the Choo Choo rice that is a side dish for the burger. However, the burger is missing.
Unfortunately, I realise this too late. When I call eight days later to ask, I am told such issues need to be raised within 24 hours for Deliveroo to check with the restaurant.
By Eunice Quek, The Straits Times, 19 June 2016