As true blue Singaporeans, we are definitely no strangers to crazy long queues. And by crazy, we mean queues lasting for a good 2 hours and more. Year after year, we see them forming. Year after year, we joined them. Now that 2016 is coming to an end, let’s do a quick round-up on the food trends that got us voluntarily joining the queues.
1. Michelin-Starred Hawker Stalls
Earlier in July, when two hawker stalls were awarded a Michelin star each, we witnessed people of all ages chiong down in throngs to try their food.
Who wouldn’t, if it means getting to taste Michelin-approved food for less than $5?
Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle at Chinatown Food Complex dishes out its famous chicken rice at $2 per plate. Even its most expensive dish, the Pork Ribs Rice, is priced at $3.
At Crawford Lane, the other Michelin-starred Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle also saw long queues forming. Singaporeans wanted to have a go at their $5 bowl of Bak Chor Mee.
We Singaporeans know our stuff. When we see good deals like this, we flock down like birds, even if it means queuing for hours in the heat.
2. Salted Egg Yolk Anything and Everything
Remember that period of time, when almost every other food item seemed to be infused with salted egg yolk? Even McDonald’s had hopped on the bandwagon.
Snaking queues in eateries, bakeries and even coffee shops became a common sight when the salted egg yolk craze was at its peak. And we reckon it will still be that way in the new year ahead.
3. Cheese Tarts
The cheese tart trend started when Hokkaido based BAKE opened its first store in Singapore in April.
With its signature yellow box, this is a brand most cheese lovers are familiar with. Yet eating BAKE cheese tarts do not come easy at all. It comes at the expense of having to queue for more than 2 hours for them.
In its heyday, cheese tarts were the rage. Even neighbourhood bakeries jumped on the bandwagon and hawked cheese tarts. Prominent bakeries like BreadTalk and Prima Deli created their own versions of the cheese tart too.
Perhaps there is just something about that measured sweetness of fluffy cheese atop a flavourful crust that draws in the crowd.
4. Themed Cafés
The feverish craze for cutesy cartoon characters seemed to have translated to widespread popularity in their themed cafes as well.
When Hello Kitty Café first opened at Changi Airport in May, more than 100 people waited to enter, queuing for two hours or more just to get inside.
Sounds long? Wait till we get to Pokemon.
At Pokemon Cafe’s first opening, which was also in May, fans of Pokemon had to wait for as long as 5 hours just to enter the café.
Yet the most amazing thing is, 5 hours was not any form of deterrence at all.
The latest themed café to open its doors to customers with much fanfare is the Gudetama Café.
Queues stretched for up to 2 hours and are expected to remain this way for the upcoming few months at least.
5. Tai Cheong Bakery
Famous for its egg tarts and other pastries, Tai Cheong Bakery, a renowned Hong Kong brand, made its way onto Singapore shores in mid-November.
With a dine in-concept introduced, it has become common for customers to queue for close to 2 hours to get seats. Yet the crowd just keeps growing.
At a slightly pricey cost of $1.90 per egg tart, egg tart lovers have no qualms about waiting in line to have a taste of the buttery crust that is all the rage in Hong Kong.
It all started with Llao Llao, queues were formed for a cup of frozen yogurt with toppings that cost $6.95. With that, new players entered the fray.
Kokopanda serves your regular froyo, but with a twist. It has a new product called Black Yogo Frozen Yoghurt, which is made from edible activated charcoal as well as roasted coconut husk.
This latest innovation to the frozen yoghurt family has led to long queues for froyo stores once again and it certainly does not look like it’s going to become a dying trend anytime soon.
7. Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant
Unagi may not have caught on with Singaporeans quite as well as some other items on this list, but this sweet Japanese eel looks like it has the potential to become something big.
Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant opened in October this year to healthy crowds and looks set to maintain its strong customer base. Perhaps it might even become a trend of 2017.
Now that we have looked back on the food trends that got us voluntarily joining long queues in 2016, perhaps it is time to take a step back for a quick reflection. Which of these queues resulted in a new experience and were worth our time?
Come 2017, a host of new food options may take our country by storm. But how many of 2016’s trends will remain? Will froyo continue to evolve in 2017 and become more popular? Will our love for cheese tarts disappear?
Whatever it is, I am sure we can all agree that Singaporeans know no boundaries when it comes to food. The amount of time and money that we are willing to spend on food trends is astounding, but at least we can be comforted that our F&B industry will continue to thrive even in a slowing economy.