5 signs that Singaporeans are starving for food fads

May 13, 2016

I've been biting my tongue on this issue for a while now, but I can no longer do so anymore as things have escalated to a feverish pitch nowadays. Maybe because we are such a small country with high GDP with a lack of recreational activities. Maybe because we are an Asian cultural melting pot with a very short history (50 years) of our own. Maybe because food is culture we can understand. Whatever the reasons, I'm here to speak up about Singaporeans who are lapping up food fads like they have been locked up in dungeons and starved.

Singapore food blogger
Some of them which I can recall include bubble tea, Lao Ban beancurd, Krispy donuts, Korean fried chicken, cupcakes, truffle anything, bingsu, waffles or toast, lobster rolls, salted egg croissants, salted egg anything, cheese or egg tarts...

Being a food blogger in Singapore, it's inevitable that I'll want to try out new restaurants or cafes when they open. However, it's been quite a turn-off when I realise I could be contributing to the hype that turns something into a food fad. And you, dear readers, might be too so here I'll show you the 5 signs of when you are part of a food fad --

1. You have to queue or wait for long time 

The queue for cheese tarts
Credit: The Straits Times

Anthony Bourdain mentioned in one of his interviews that when in Singapore and you don't know which stall to eat at in a crowded place, go to the one with the queue. I guess we just transport our understanding of quality = queuing to everything.

2. You can only buy in limited quantities or it sells out in about a second

Sold out fish & chicks
Credit: Burpple

Like what happened when I tried out Fish & Chicks in Ang Mo Kio the first time - I went at 1pm seeing that the opening hours are till 2pm, and found out that it was sold out so I had to go back again another day. It was friggin' at the heartlands in a random coffeeshop, but it was that popular because of the salted egg sauce!

3. It's Instagram-famous

Populus Cafe Instagram
Credit: The Populus Cafe


Every Instagrammer or blogger has been to it or received the media drop already and let's you know. Bonus points if the cafe/product has their own Instagram account only, no website. Maybe a Facebook Page.

4. It's more expensive than normal


Though normally it's a small price item like donuts, which is relatively more expensive than it's more 'inferior' original. $22 waffles, $14 sundaes, $7 croissants, $3 donuts. Simple economics - if demand is > supply, prices naturally go up.

5. It's famous elsewhere

Tai Cheong egg tart queue Hong Kong
Credit: DanielFoodDiary




Maybe Michelin-starred in HK, invented in New York, long queues in Taiwan.. All these are the hallmarks of instant success when transported here.

To end off,

I really do wish that we Singaporeans could be less gullible when it comes to shelling out money or spending their time to chase these food fads. They are usually unhealthy too, which could lead to high cholesterol or diabetes, which we are already at risk of getting by eating white rice, surprise surprise (no actually there is no direct link). Can the Straits Times do an article about how each food fad we eat is equivalent to a litre of juice (that people could carry around all day)? That might wake people up!

My sister also had a good point, which I will quote: "Our hawkers or food vendors who neither get fame nor long queues but are faithfully waking up at unearthly hours to churn out consistent, good, dependable, accessible food.. not "life-changing" but certainly shapes our local food culture.. and people should continue to support these instead of buying into food fads. They always go unnoticed but when they're gone, even if you want to eat it, you can’t."

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