There is more to Tingkat than just having food served to your doorstep every night.
So the Tays just recently completed a round of 10 days Tingkat trial with Hong Choo Catering. The 10 days passed without a hitch, except one day when I wanted to cancel dinner for that night as we decided to bring baby to see the doctor but wasn’t allowed too as it was too late. Food was delivered fresh every day, and the soup was often still warm when I opened the package at about 6:30pm.
For variety’s sake, I decided to give another company a chance to impress me next week. That’s not to say I didn’t like Hong Choo’s service and food though, I was quite decently impressed.
I realised from my posts on Facebook that many people have either considered Tingkat (but are too afraid to try because of the multitude of bad reviews on the Internet), or have themselves tried it with varying degrees of satisfaction.
Many have asked me why don’t I just dabao from a coffeeshop on the way home? First of all, I suppose it’s partly because I drive, and so it’s really troublesome to find parking, alight the car and buy food. Especially when there are parking charges and wardens everywhere. Secondly, Bukit Panjang, where we live, is a food desert. Thirdly, I honestly can’t see how Tingkat food is any less nutritious than Chup Chye Png. In fact, I think it probably is healthier and more hygienic. Fourthly, honestly, with a newborn in tow from infant care every evening, even dabaoing is a challenge. I had gotten really tired of thinking of what to eat and where to buy food every night.
For me, I think there are some points to consider when ordering Tingkat:
1. Manage Your Expectations (Like seriously, big-time.)
I mean, all the Tingkat companies will blow their own trumpets with amazing photos of food (not necessarily theirs) and make all sorts of claims. But honestly, this is Tingkat. It will NOT taste like your mother’s cooking, and most likely it will not taste like your cooking (that depends on how decent a cook you are). I think a reasonable level of expectation is that it should at least taste similar to a decent, cooked-by-Malaysian chup chye png at the coffee shop. I’m not even asking you to compare with those old school mom-and-pop shops which tend to taste better and use better ingredients.
Any higher level of expectation and I think you are just setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment.
2. Hot Food always tastes better than cold food.
Make it a point to warm up the food properly. If you are too lazy to even pop it in the microwave, then I have nothing to say. If you have no microwave, I have even more nothing to say. Or at least steam the food. Not just to kill bacteria, but because hot food always tastes better. Really, don’t complain the food is not fresh and tastes bad if you eat it cold la. This is not salad.
3. Read Blog Reviews
Many mummies and daddies write about their tingkat experiences on their blogs. Go take a look at the photos they post and decide for yourself how the food looks.
I’d say, forget about the Forums though. They are too often just a place for ranting and it’s very hard to judge from the reviews there as people just have very different standards and expectations (just like Tripadvisor). Blogs are better because you can see the pictures and then make your own judgment call which company is worth a shot.
4. The Paradox of Choice
Strangely, having eaten Tingkat dinner for the past 2 weeks, I found myself experiencing The Paradox of Choice.
Basically, Barry Schwartz’s thesis is that while we think choice makes us happier, it in fact makes us more unhappy because of factors like ‘missed opportunities’. Studies have shown that the huge array of choice presented to us often make us more unmotivated and even depressed.
It’s true. When I buy a dinner and it doesn’t taste as good as I hoped, I am often frustrated and spend the night thinking about my frustration and how I could have tried this other food or that other stall.
With Tingkat, in some ways, I just learn to give thanks for the food that is on the table, whatever it is. It fills my tummy, and off I go with the rest of the night. It’s surprising for a foodie like me, but I actually feel more satisfied even when objectively the food is less satisfying.
Could thankfulness really make food taste better? Can gratitude really satisfy? Try it for yourself and let me know.
Maybe Tingkat is moulding my heart’s attitude towards life.