In the earlier days of our research for XINDOTS, we headed down to the busiest CBD hawker centres to find out what people need. Day in, day out, lunches seemed synonymous with long queues.
Complicated orders and add-ons
Kor Liang Dai, a 17 year-old intern is holding 6 packets of food from different stalls. He is also second in line at the Spinach Soup stall and bless her soul, the owner is taking pre-orders.
Like a machine gun, he raps “spinach soup, more veg, half portion of meat, egg white only, no fried scallion but raw onions on the side”. He is out of breath, and sweat pours down his back turning his G2000 shirt translucent.
Most people avert their eyes, but beside him, Seow Tow Gay, 48, watches from the side, mildly satisfied. This is the initiation of every new intern.
Namely, they are expected to memorise obscenely complex orders, navigate crowds and get all the food back to the office, still piping hot. The interns are paid a grand total of a kopi siu dai for their labour. Companies euphemistically dress up this hazing ritual as a “problem-solving onboarding process”.
CBD hawker centres—hyperlocal or a tourist paradise
In another row, a well-groomed expat, is swooning over the Mee Siam. Is this Mee Siam mai hum? He asks his colleagues, who choke back their smiles. As full-fledged card carrying member of our food paradise, he considers himself conversant in ordering and plans to impress his Tinder Date with a hawker date. He is also one of the siao ones who firmly believe that the longer the wait, the better the food. (This is a myth).
Beside him, Tan Sia Kia whips out his other iPhone X, Tinder is passe, he thinks, with an air of superiority, whilst CMB is too slow. He thinks that we should go local, kind of like the mod-sin hipster food he is eating. It is a $10 meal of salmon with scorched mentaiko on a bed of blue pea rice.
The crowd thins, mainly because the 50 minute lunch break is almost up, and bosses are “sticklers for deadlines”. Everyone is rushing, always rushing.
For all our purchasing power, time poverty and lack of patience, why should we be made to wait in queues for our food? Maybe pre-ordering is the solution to our lunch woes. So birthed the idea of XINDOTS, a pre-ordering app with customisation functions that imposes no surcharge on our orders.
Also, no risk of a subpar delivery, sparing us the agony of food arriving late, or in poor condition, or orders getting mixed up, or orders not arriving at all.