It seems like every single working person in the big cities nowadays uses a food delivery service to get food sent directly to their offices. I ordered in nearly every single day when I was an intern at Refinery29. It was so convenient: instead of having to answer to the cattle call of “WHAT DOES EVERYONE WANT FOR LUNCH, ONE AT A TIME PLEASE” or having to actually step outside the office and obtain sustenance on my own (hello! lowly, overworked intern that has to cover the reception phone)–I could order my own lunch from my own restaurant of choice hours before, it would be delivered straight to my office, and no tipping/cash-exchange needed. It was such an ingenious business model that I wondered when someone would bring it over to Taiwan.
So I was thrilled when Foodpanda contacted me & told asked me if I’d like to try out their food delivery service, starting up in Taipei.
Their website is extremely easy to navigate, and offered in both English and Chinese. It’s absurdly simple: enter your approximate location (you enter your exact address when you check-out) and up comes a list of restaurants willing to deliver to your area.
The thing that really determines the success of a food delivery service is, naturally, the range of restaurants they partner with. (If I eat Subway one more time, I swear…) To be honest, I still eat Western-style food more than 60% of the time in Taipei, so I was happy to see many of the Western-food heavy-hitters included on the list: Dressed, California Pizza Kitchen, Second Floor Cafe…You can search by category, and once you find a restaurant you’re interested in, you can click through to their menu. I found that most restaurants include an English/Chinese menu–and some even included pictures, which was extremely helpful. There’s also a Yelp-like rating system, which I assume will become more helpful in the future as more people review. Each restaurant has its own particular delivery fee, usually ringing in at around $100-150NT or so. It’s quite steep for a one-person order, and since there’s also usually a delivery minimum, the best way to use Foodpanda would be to consider pooling your order with another person/people as to reach the minimum & make the most of the delivery cost.
Since I don’t work in a corporate office setting, I set my delivery to be sent to my apartment. Though a service like Foodpanda would probably subsist on the office crowd, I realized that it’s also perfect for a demographic directly opposite to white-collar corporates: super lazy people. I often hear about restaurants from my friends, but if they’re not directly in the Shida/Gongguan area where I live, I rarely make the effort to go unless I have a huge block of time set aside. However, in the meantime, I’m dying over my friends’ Instagrams of the food, and take every opportunity to harass, annoy and bother them with constant complaints of how I still haven’t tried that one place!
Such was the case of Pizza Cut Five, I’d heard about Pizza Cut Five, which was opened by what appears to be some kind of hip, Taipei-based clothing/food-service group called the EM group. However, all the stores seemed to be located fairly far from me–they appear to have outposts in Ximending, which I vow never, ever to go to–and near SYS Memorial Hall…which might as well be SRI LANKA, judging by the number of times I’ve made it over there in the past year. Thanks to Foodpanda, a foodie dream of mine was able to come true! Pizza Cut Five, delivered straight to my door!
Once I’d selected my order, it was a hop and a skip over to check-out. Like Seamless, Foodpanda lets pay by card (and I assume they also let you keep one on file to order from) or you can pay by cash upon delivery.
I ordered around 4pm and set my order to arrive around 6pm. I got a phone call as soon as the clock ticked over to 6:01pm–it was the deliveryman; he’d gotten my address confused and arrived at my door a few minutes later. The food was kept in a warming box, and WOOGO Juice had even been kind enough to send along a few of their smoothies to sample. To get a good range of the different types of food that could possibly be delivered, I got a basil pizza, spaghetti with meatballs, a Caesar salad, and a bowl of soup. Everything arrived fairly hot, although the pizza had to be re-baked agin in my oven.
The delivery worker was so kind as to suffer through some of the questions I had, and I discovered that although the majority of restaurants work with Foodpanda‘s own in-house delivery service, there are some that send their own delivery people. Though each restaurant ultimately handles its own food packaging, Foodpanda ultimately coordinates and troubleshoots the deliveries; their phone number is listed prominently on the website, and they even have a type of chat program that allows you to contact them directly.
Taiwan is a hard market to crack, with its numerous amounts of convenience stores and cheap little street stalls. However, in many of the industrial parks and office areas, it can be near-impossible to take the time to go further and get something different to eat besides sesame noodles and pork fried rice (as good as they are!) Foodpanda is doing a valiant effort to provide an alternative; although prices for Western food in Taipei are generally high ($150NT-400NT for an entree, as a general rule).
As I said before, at this point it makes more sense to pool your order together with others in the office and split the delivery fee. It’s obvious that Foodpanda is a great source for meetings and special events; since it essentially provides to-the-door catering at a fraction of the hassle and cost.
And since many office environments can be isolating; it’s common for each person to go off to grab their own lunch & bring it back to eat in the cubicle. Although it might not be realistic for most to order from the restaurants listed on FoodPanda every day, why not have ‘Pasta Fridays’ or ‘Panini Mondays’, where the whole office orders something together, eats together, and makes the most out of lunch hour?
And speaking to the lazy people such as myself, I’m personally already planning a night with my best friends, The Hobbit (gotta re-watch the first part since the second movie is coming out soon, right?)–
–fresh smoothies from WOOGO Juice (the ones I tried were amazing)–
– and tacos from the new Taipei- Mexican joint DOS CHINOS (which I haven’t yet tried since they had the audacity to open all the way in the Xinyi District…!)
It’s going to be amazing, and Foodpanda is going to make it happen.
Meal sponsored by Foodpanda, but opinions my own.