When it comes to mealtime, Singaporeans are generally too busy to cook or lack cooking skills – according to IKEA’s Life at Home survey. That said, we won’t go hungry as there are too many dining options to choose from. Also, it is convenient to takeaway or order food via delivery services. However, sometimes you just feel like having home-cooked meal.
That’s where Dine Inn comes in. Dine Inn — a one-stop online community marketplace that connects aspiring home cooks with people who are looking for home-cooked meals — is the brain-child of celebrity chef Eric Teo and F&B entrepreneur Luke Lee.
With the proliferation of food delivery services like Foodpanda, Deliveroo and UberEats, what makes Dine Inn stand out from the rest?
Why Dine Inn?
- Enjoy authentic home-cooked food either at the comfort of your own home or an intimate dining experience in host’s home.
- Offers catering for small quantity orders.
- Flexible arrangements for both host and guest. Host can change availability at his/her own convenience and guest can make bookings whenever the need arises.
- Unique and customisable culinary experience. Just chat with the host via Dine-Inn’s in-web messaging system to make the arrangements.
- Instant confirmation of bookings upon successful payment, followed by email confirmation.
How Dine Inn works
First, you have to create a Dine Inn account. Creating a Dine Inn account is a breeze as you can either sign up with your Facebook/Google account or by keying in your particulars. Once that is done, just log in and you can search through the different hosts and their available listings.
Here’s a walk-through on how to order via Dine Inn’s website.
This is what you will see when you log in Dine Inn’s website (http://sg.dine-inn.com). You can either use the search function on the right or simply click “Browse all Hosts” on the top left hand corner.
After clicking “Browse all Hosts”, you will see a list of all the hosts. There are currently 47 hosts (at time of this article). More hosts will be added periodically.
Once you click on a host, you will be redirected to their page where you will be able to see their listing, information about the host and reviews.
For this particular host, Natasha, she provides three types of services – Dine-in (at host’s house), Delivery and Self-Collection.
Once you have decided on your order, click on the particular item.
Place your order by choosing your preferred booking date, time as well as quantity. Do note that not all the dates and time will be available for order (subject to host’s availability).
Click on the “Cart” icon (circled in red).
You will be redirected to a page where you can see details of your order. There is also an “Add Notes” section where you can provide additional information or indicate any special requests or dietary restrictions.
Choose either Delivery or Self-Collection on the next page. If you choose Delivery, there is a delivery fee added to your total bill. Also, be prepared to wait for (up to) 60 minutes for the food to arrive your house as the time you choose is actually the pick-up time from host’s house.
If you click on Self-Collection, you will be able to see the host’s address and can collect your order(s) on the stipulated date and time.
Click “Book and Pay” and you are done! All bookings are confirmed instantly upon successful payment. You will also receive an email confirmation of your order.
Aspiring Home Chefs
Love to cook or want to open a F&B establishment but lack the capital? If your answer is YES to both questions, join Dine Inn as a host where you get to showcase your culinary skills as well as earn an income from your passion for cooking. But before you can upload your listing, you have to attend a one-day Basic Food Hygiene Course (approved by Workforce Singapore) and obtain a Statement of Attainment (SOA).
Why Join Dine Inn as Host?
- Registration is FREE. No need for capital to start-up your business. Hooray!
- Full control over menu, pricing, type of service and availability.
- Welcome kit worth S$60 for first 1,000 hosts.
- Enjoy exclusive savings of up to 25% from Dine Inn partners such as FairPrice Online, GoFresh, Baking Blocks, etc.
- Protected with a public liability insurance coverage for up to S$250,000.
- Receive payment directly to designated back account within 72 hours after booking is fulfilled.
NOTE: Dine Inn charges a 20% administrative fee for every successful booking made through Dine Inn.
Experience with Dine Inn
We ordered from several hosts (10 to be exact) and our experience with Dine Inn has been pretty good so far.
We opted for self-collection and delivery service for our bookings. Wanted to try dine-in but unfortunately, we weren’t able to find a common date to dine-in at a host’s house. Also, most dine-in requires at least 4 pax (or more). We felt that it will be best if they have an option for 2 pax.
For self-collection, the hosts are usually punctual and collecting the food is a breeze. Delivery service is a little tricky though. The time you select at the time of booking is important. What do I mean by that? Say you opt for 12pm delivery, it means that the delivery guy (arranged by Dine Inn) will pick up the food from host’s place at 12pm. So, expect another (up to) 60 minutes to receive your food.
So far, the delivery has been prompt except for one. One of the deliveries took way longer than expected (to the point of ridiculous) but it was of no fault of Dine Inn or the host. In fact, both Dine Inn and the host kept us updated of the status throughout. Anyway, there was a mix-up at the courier side, hence the delay (this was explained to me by the courier uncle when I questioned him). Other than that, the rest of the deliveries were prompt. We received the food around 30 – 45 minutes after pick up from host’s house for the other deliveries.
The food arrived warm on most occasions, which is a plus point. Well, the food might not look visually-appealing in takeaway containers but the taste is definitely not comprised. Yes, there are bound to be hits and misses but then again most of them are home cooks, not trained chefs. For me, I prefer home-cooked food anytime!
There is no fixed pricing and prices varies. There are some good dishes at affordable prices. Some prices are too steep in our opinion. However, bearing in mind that the hosts do not have economies of scale (like restaurants do) and that Dine Inn charges them a 20% administrative fee for every successful booking, most of them don’t profit that much.
As the adage goes “What comes from the heart, goes to the heart” and it did. Many of the hosts are very passionate about cooking and are happy to received feedback (be it good or bad). A good example will be Peter. I ordered a pasta dish from him and the next day, he dropped a text to ask about what I thought about the food and if there is anything he can improve on. He then went on to share that the herbs used are actually home-grown! Wow!
Most of the hosts are very responsive and friendly. Some even go the extra mile to inform that food has been picked up and we should expect the food to arrive anytime soon. A few wrote personal notes and thank us for ordering from them. One of the hosts, Annie, packed the food in a thermal bag to ensure that the food will still be warm by the time it arrive and I thought it was a sweet gesture!
All in all, Dine Inn is a good option for people who are looking for home-cooked meals without the hassle of whipping up a meal themselves.
*This post is brought to you in partnership with Dine Inn. However, all opinions about our experience in this post are solely ours.