A number of people have asked, “Are you rich? How come you can eat at good restaurants so often? How could you have eaten at 25 out of 29 Michelin-starred restaurants in Singapore? They are not cheap.” Well, I’m a full-time PhD candidate. So no, I am not rich. I’ve freelance work now and then to pay for bills, but mostly I’m concentrating on my dissertation.
In case you’re thinking that I go for invited free food, no. I pay for most of my food, and reject more than 90% of tasting invites.
Do I have rich friends to pay for me? No. On the contrary, I am the one who treats my friends. Recently, I even treated my entire family for a one Michelin-starred meal. Me, a student, treating!
So how do I eat so well? In times of economic uncertainty, there are ways to feast without breaking the bank. You don’t have to restrict your usual lifestyle, you don’t have to skimp on your restaurant visits. You can still enjoy the good life when you know these little tricks:
1. Go for set lunch, eat dinner cheaply. Good restaurants usually offer set lunches for a fraction of what their dinner costs because restaurants see lunch as a quick meal before you return to work, whereas you may linger during dinner. What you’re paying for during dinner is the time that you’re occupying the space; you’re paying rent for the restaurant, that’s why dinners are almost always much more expensive. Sometimes dinner can cost 300%-400% more than lunch.
When you go for lunch, you get to enjoy the same service, ambience, and food for a much lower price. For dinner, eat at hawker centres, or cook dinner at home. If you need to hang out with friends, why not do potluck at a person’s place and buy cheap wines? Why pay expensive alcohol tax at restaurants and bars? A house is a better environment at night to have h2ht than a rowdy bar anyway.
2. Watch out for deals. After Groupon and other deal websites, we are all quite jaded and cynical about deals. Those websites offer deals on restaurants that are either on the brink of collapse or tired and lousy.
But Chope has a new initiative, and you guys know Chope’s reputation; it collaborates with new restaurants, and Michelin-starred restaurants. The new initiative is that Chope is selling e-vouchers of restaurants, such as Equilibrium, Garibaldi, Izy, Jamie’s Italian, Lokkee, Pepenero, Saveur Art, and Summer Palace.
Usually, you can buy vouchers at The Chope Shop to get up to 10% off your meal at top restaurants, but on Chope Visa Friday, paying with a Visa card gets you an additional $10 off per cart order when you purchase $100 vouchers.
Furthermore, I’ve negotiated a deal with Chope to get another $5 off: type in discount code [first6digitsofVisaCard]VFRERG**. For instance, if the first 6 digits of your Visa are 123456, the discount code is 123456VFRERG. That’s a total of 25% off, or in other words, your eating partner and you pay $75 out of $100, or $37.50 per person. You may use multiple vouchers at a restaurant.
3. Minimize trips to chain and fastfood restaurants. Chain restaurants and fast-food restaurants are attractive because they serve acceptable food at midrange prices; they don’t open outlet after outlet by serving lousy food. But the experience at these restaurants is such that everything is homogenized. Would you rather eat (1) 4 times at hawker and once at a good restaurant, or (2) five times at various mediocre chain restaurants?
I prefer the first option because hawker food is awesome and I am not compromising on anything.
That, my friends, is how I can afford to eat at fancy restaurants: eat lunch at good restaurants; good deals; and cutting down on chain restaurants.
**Terms and Conditions for the Discount Code
– Discount must be redeemed by 26 August 2016.
– Discount only applicable to products listed on Chope Visa Friday.
– Payment by Visa only.
– Valid on Fridays only.
– Discount code entitles users to a $15 off discount on products listed on Chope Visa Friday only.
– Valid for one-time use by new customers only.
– Not to be used in conjunction with other discount codes.
– Chope reserves the right to cancel suspicious orders without prior notice.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.