Taking a bite out of food delivery
SINGAPOREANS have been getting their fast food delivered since '6235-35-35' became an ubiquitous hotline thanks to its catchy TV jingle.
But in recent years, as technology enabled the proliferation of online on-demand services, more companies have jumped on board to serve our favourite pastime on a plate.
The most recent entrant is UberEATS - run by the multinational online transportation network company Uber, which launched on Wednesday with over 100 eateries.
We gave five food delivery apps a test drive.
The Uber brand has gathered a following from both drivers and riders alike.
So far, the app serves over 100 restaurants and is limited to only a few central zones. It doesn't allow for advance orders but at least the app's interface looks as sleek as the original Uber, and it allows you to track your rider in real-time.
Our rider was slightly late and tacos from Baja Fresh were less fresh than we would've liked. But it is their first week, so there's no reason to think they won't be able to improve.
Deliveroo boasts some impressive stats - over 1,200 restaurants, more than 1,100 riders and it's going islandwide by the end of this month.
The app is straightforward to use, and comes with a tracking system, so you can watch your rider making his way towards your location.
Delivery also costs a flat S$3, and there's a minimum order of S$25 if you want to avoid a S$5 surcharge. Most of the existing food options are restaurants.
Our order from the nearby Fix Cafe arrived earlier than the estimated time, with the nachos and quesadillas still in good condition. But the fish enchiladas were a soppy-looking mess and the amount of guacamole was stingy.
Having our lunch delivered meant we could not highlight this directly to the service staff.
A lunchtime rush risks the app shutting down certain overwhelmed zones and refusing to take on anything other than pre-orders.
In some unfortunate cases, it could mean your 12pm lunch order arrives only at 1.45pm.
The saving grace was that our baked rice from Kaye Peri Peri Grille Pasta (10 minutes away) was still piping hot, although the same could not be said of our soggy onion rings.
As the app lacks a tracking function, customers will have to check the order status, or wait till the delivery man calls.
Even though there are more than 300 stalls listed on the app, many have erratic operating hours, often displaying an "offline" status even at conventional lunch or dinner hours.
One of the plus points is that Hawker.Today offers the option of topping up an additional distance fee for orders exceeding a certain delivery radius - this gives customers more options.
But the app crashes and, sometimes, the order status doesn't update in real time.
Our noodles from Jia Le Roasted Meats arrived warm, intact and fast (around half an hour), plus the delivery man's name, photo and phone number were provided in case of last-minute requests.
This new site is still in beta phase, so don't expect much unless you're ordering a simple dinner or supper from their test zone in the west.
Of the four eateries available, Al-Azhar and Boon Lay Power Nasi Lemak stand out as popular and affordable choices.
To order, you must submit a request online, which will be confirmed via SMS within 15 minutes. They will call you if deliveries take longer than 60 minutes.
Our food arrived a little later than expected and it was a drive-by system: A couple of honks brought us over to a sheepish driver who handed over the warm packets.
Delivery charges are reasonable at S$3.50 for distances under 5km, with a minimum order of two packets.
THE BUSINESS TIMES