By Kennedy Ryan, Foodable Contributor
As you may already know, we at Foodable always like to keep our eyes peeled for emerging trends in the restaurant industry. Chefs and restaurant consumers alike are using technology to enhance the dining experience. Whether it’s using an app to hunt down good, cheap tacos or making sure that meat is cooked to the perfect temperature by using a digital meat thermometer, the proliferation of tech means better meals for everyone.
Living in Singapore was a treat because it was like living in the city of the future. The Singapore skyline could give the cell animators of The Jetsons a run for their money. Seeing as how Singapore is a city that is home to a population that loves to eat and craves the latest technology, it makes sense that the two would come together eventually.
Diners have gotten used to ordering off tablets stateside. It no longer seems sly when a waiter lays down an electronic menu. Even though some of the stodgier restaurant critics may dismiss tablet menus as gimmicks, restaurant owners can use them to renew curiosity in their fare. The Race Course Road branch of the popular Indian eatery Gayatri Restaurant now boasts a set of pixelated menus. Owner Shanmugam Ganesan cites the new system as being responsible for the restaurant’s 20 percent increase in traffic. The restaurant market in Singapore is saturated with Indian restaurants, at every price point and in every neighborhood. By integrating technology to streamline the customers' experience, owners can gain an edge over the competition without having to alter their cooking style or cuisine.
Scientific Food Prep
The ION Mall sits at Orchard D, acting as the gateway to the island’s shopping paradise. Singapore is littered with malls, and each one has as many food stalls as it does retail shops. The ION food hall is a destination in itself. North American fast food has some catching up to do when it comes to providing healthy, tasty food in a flash. Shoppers who descend into the cavernous, white basement expecting to feed their appetites with McDonald’s or Subway will be sorely disappointed. The Hall boasts flagship stalls of all the native Singaporean fast food chains. You have not lived until you’ve had an Old Chang Kee curry puff. It’s a little piece of potato turmeric goodness. On one particular visit to the Ion Food Hall, I discovered a rather strange ice cream parlour. As far as sweet treats go, ice cream is as old fashioned as it gets. The cold dessert recalls Norman Rockwell-esque scenes of nostalgic joy. However, Just Like It! ice cream puts a scientific spin on the familiar cone. Each serving is prepared fresh to order from beakers of cream and flavor mix. The mixture is frozen right before customers’ eyes by pouring liquid nitrogen over the concoction as it swirls in a stand-up blender. Customers can get creative by choosing mix-ins and flavourings to create their own custom ice cream combo. Stop by if you’re ever in the vicinity. The liquid nitrogen “smoke” alone is a feast for the eyes.
Space is at a premium in Singapore. There’s virtually no fertile land, and anything that could have been used to grow crops has long since been razed to make room for skyscrapers. Vertical gardens are a solution to lessen dependence on food imports. Innovation may be a buzzword, but it’s hard to use anything else to describe a uniquely Singaporean solution to making the most of the 274-square-mile island. Vertical farming offers an attractive solution to a reliance on imported produce. The vegetables are grown in a series of troughs in 30-foot-high towers. The farm consists of 120 towers and can produce up to 1,000 pounds of three types of vegetables per day.
Keep on the lookout for technological innovations in your own dining experiences and make sure to share them with us.
Here’s to a new year full of new (and tasty) experiences!