With the high rents in Hong Kong, dining out or getting delivery can often be a costly affair, especially if you’re looking for something more exquisite.
So for someone who (almost) doesn’t cook, when I found out about an app that links me to perfectly good food from restaurants, cake shops etc at a discounted price, I immediately downloaded it to give it a try.
Even better than its promise of discounted delights is the app’s potential environmental benefits. Phenix – which originated from France – was designed to help eliminate food waste, since the items that are on discount would otherwise have been discarded.
For those of you who are worried about eating expired food, the app states that retailers are not allowed to sell food that has passed its use-by-date.
First, you have to download Phenix from your relevant app store.
After signing up for an account, you’re ready to search for what deals are available.
As I only started looking for deals after work at around 6pm, there weren’t many on offer.
But as someone with a sweet tooth, a patisserie basket from dessert shop Jouer Boutique immediately caught my eye.
The page described the basket as containing six pieces of macarons and other delectable sweets. I tried to find out more about what I would be getting for HK$110 (US$14), but there wasn’t more info.
But as I read more, I found out that it was because retailers cannot foresee their unsold items, so it is not always possible to know what the contents of the discounted packages will be in advance. But they do offer a general description as well as information to help customers with dietary restrictions decide.
A bit of a gamble to be sure, but I was up for being surprised.
After paying for it, the order was completed. For this particular order, I just had to get to the cake shop in Causeway Bay to collect it with the app on my smartphone by 8pm.
As much as I love desserts, I needed something savory for dinner with my friend as well. So I scrolled through the list of eateries and found this deal by Oolaa Petite in Wan Chai, about 20 minutes from the first location.
As my friend’s place is in Wan Chai and we don’t eat too much for dinner, two soups for HK$50 (US$6) sounded like a good offer.
After completing both orders, I headed out to collect the items.
I first went to Jouer Boutique at Lee Garden Two as the second order was only ready for collection between 8pm and 9pm.
The shop assistant was friendly, and collection was quick and convenient as I just needed to click and swipe a few buttons on the app.
I then headed to Oolaa Petite along Star Street to collect the soups.
I reached the restaurant around 8pm and was half expecting some warm or cold soups packed in a corner for me to collect when I arrived, but after I was greeted by a staff member and told him about my order, he quickly asked the kitchen to reheat the soup, which I thought was a nice touch.
With all the food ready, I went to meet my friend.
We first had the soups, which were hearty and filling. The bread that came with the soups also tasted delicious.
As I was in a hurry when I collected the desserts, I didn’t look closely at what was in the surprise basket. It was only when I opened it at my friend’s that I realized there were so many items.
There were four tarts – passion fruit, sweet potato, apple and chocolate – and six small macarons.
We only ate the passion fruit and chocolate tarts, and I brought the rest home. The passion fruit tart was refreshing, while the chocolate one was rich and even had a bit of liquor.
My family also enjoyed the other two tarts and especially liked how the macarons were not too sweet.
HK$160 (US$20) for a dinner with my friend and desserts for my family was a really good offer, and I’m glad that, in the process, I also saved some food from going into the landfills.
My only issue with the app is the lack of choices, with most offers being bread baskets.
But the app is still relatively new in Hong Kong, so maybe as more retailers and customers use the app, more options will become available in the future.
Overall, if you’re willing to be flexible about picking up your orders and are okay with taking a gamble on what you may get, the Phenix app can definitely help you score some great food at a great price, with the added bonus of feeling like you’re doing something good for the environment at the same time.