2020 In (Food) Review: The Trends Burpplers Loved

What a year it’s been! If you’re anything like us, you’re excitedly awaiting the arrival of 2021. Pat your belly in satisfaction and let’s reminisce on the biggest food memories of the year.

What the Burpple community went crazy for:

Brownies and bakes

Photo by Burppler Wei Zhi Chiang

It seems like almost yesterday that hordes of people were queuing up for the famous brownies from BUNDT by The Backyard Bakers. One of them, Burppler Nicole Cheng, says it "lives up to its name. Brownies are so decadent, dense and done so well. Definitely a go-to if you wanna treat yourself to some brownies!" And really, we don't doubt they're here to stay. Nearby, the doughnuts from Korio were another hot sell. Burpple Evan Mua calls them "the fluffiest donuts imaginable", and "its cloud-like fluffiness melted my heart." Remember the popular home baker Puffs and Peaks that rose to popularity during the Circuit Breaker? They've recently opened a physical store in Tampines Central.

Craft beer galore

Not too long ago, it was difficult to find craft beer anywhere in Singapore, but now there's no denying Singapore is ready for a craft beer revolution. This year saw several new spots opening up, starting with The World is Flat in Jewel Changi Airport with its wide range of imported craft beer and curated local selections. In Phase 2, Heart of Darkness Brewery took over Neon Pigeon on Keong Saik Street for a larger high-profile space, while Beer Basket opened in Katong to bring craft beer to the east. Let's not forget King Albert Park's newly-launched Yeast Side, brought to us by the same peeps behind the already largely-successful Orh Gao Taproom.

Oat milk sensation

Photo by Burppler Nobelle Liew

It's almost like no one wants to drink regular milk anymore. Chances are all your favourite coffee shops are now offering oat milk, whether it's in a regular flat white or something more creative like Flash Coffee's Macadamia Gingerbread Oatly Latte. Some places like The Living Cafe, Open Farm Community and Wild Honey also offer other alternative plant-based milk such as almond or hazelnut.

Shake Shack's domination

Photo by Burppler BroodieFoodie 🥳

It's no secret that Singapore loves its burgers, so after opening the first Shake Shack outlet in Jewel Changi Airport last year, the American fast food chain continued its expansion all around the island, to Liat Towers, Suntec City, Neil Road, and most recently, at VivoCity. Of course, we Burpplers simply lapped it all up. In fact, Burppler BroodieFoodie 🥳 said the Suntec City outlet had the "BEST ShackBurger that I’ve had in Singapore. Fries are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Burger patty here is caramelised to perfection!"

Other trends we saw this year:

2020 truly was a year of firsts, affecting not just what we eat but how we eat it. We look at what's changed when it comes to enjoying food in general.

Pop-up restaurants

With chefs having more time on their hands to work on their own projects, some of them have taken this year to start a series of dynamic pop-up restaurants around the island. In Bukit Timah, Marcus Tan, a former head chef at Lerouy started Firebrand, a grill and barbecue pop-up using the space of a defunct steamboat eatery.

Closer to the city, you'll find Prinsep, an interactive and experimental pop-up with a monthly-changing menu by Boon Kuang, who worked at well-known restaurants like Salt Grill & Sky Bar, Esquina, and Meatsmith. Then there are names like Zouk, which launched Capital Kitchen to serve up an array of Asian and Western dishes and platters in its Capital club space.

Rise of virtual brands

Photo by Burppler Ethel Tan

While virtual brands are not new in Singapore, the opening of many more was accelerated by the pandemic. One such brand, which also doubles as a social enterprise is The Social Kitchen, bringing together local businesses like Ming Fa Fishball and Long Black Cafe. The brand also functions as a cloud kitchen operator, launching its flagship kitchen this August at the YMCA of Singapore. There's also Happy Ending Pizza Parlour, which operated from a cloud kitchen space in Orchard before setting up its first physical store this month.

Contactless ordering and payments

As we bid goodbye to DIY buffets for time being, we say hello QR codes for digital menus, touchless ordering and paying the bill! We think this will stick around even after the pandemic and health and safety measure relax, as it's a matter of convenience and speed for both customers and restaurants.

Online table bookings

Gone are the days of passing by a restaurant and popping in for a meal. With such limited indoor seating, getting a table at popular restaurants even on regular nights were impossible without a booking. Online table reservation systems are now more important than ever, and there's the plus of being simpler to use and more convenient than the traditional phone call!

More at-home fine dining

Unsurprisingly, we saw tons of eating at home in 2020, whether it's because of capacity limitations or working and studying from home. During the Circuit Breaker period, many high-end restaurants pivoted to takeaways, allowing foodies to enjoy elevated fine dining experiences at home with fancy cheese, pastries, signature spice mixes, meal kits and more. This looks set to remain even as things slowly return to normal, as businesses come up with elaborate takeaway kits that even come with fancy packaging and cutlery.

What we're hoping for in 2021:

More new hawkers

Photo by Burppler Sarah Peh

Surely you've heard by now that Singapore's hawker culture was listed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage? We're hoping this incentivises authorities to lower the barriers to entry for new hawkers, attracting younger blood to take over existing businesses and start new hawker stalls. With successful modern-day hawkers like A Noodle Story, Rice Bowl Boys, Smith Street Taps, and Mad Roaster, we're excited to see what innovative concepts come around next.

More alfresco dining

Who doesn't like a little fresh air when having a good meal? After months of being cooped up, we're increasingly warming up to the idea of eating out again. While restaurants still have to keep their indoor capacities limited to facilitate social distancing, those with outdoor spaces are trying to maximise the opportunity to serve customers outside — increasingly, authorities are slowly rolling out initiatives to facilitate more outside dining again!

More Beyond merchants that you want

We had a steady crop of restaurants, cafes and bars that joined us on Burpple Beyond this year, including notable names like Putien, COLLIN'S and Dumpling Darlings. If you want your favourite spot to come on board in 2021, drop us a DM on our socials with the places you want to see!