Singapore’s Unique Approach to Food Takeaway Packaging 

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Walk into any hawker centre of food court in Singapore and you would probably hear two words thrown in the air: Ta Pow! This Hokkein phrase is a uniquely Singaporean term for taking away food, equivalent to having your food “doggy-bagged”. We Ta Pow our food in various forms and perhaps our creativity will give you some inspiration on how you handle takeaways in your own restaurants!

1. The Styrofoam Box

One good thing about these styrofoam boxes is that it contains the heat of the chicken rice inside the packet, making sure that the chicken rice is still as delicious after a long journey home.

2. The White Cardboard Box

White Cardboard boxes are best used for zi char dishes, fried rice and our local favourite: chilli crab.

The thin layer of plastic makes sure that the sauces from the dishes do not spill over into the cardboard box and stain it. Instead it makes it easier to separate the food from the box and into your own sturdy bowl at home for easy consumption.

3. The Oil Paper

The Oil Paper is a cardboard piece of paper that is lined with wax and is used for tons of hawker food – from fried noodles, roti prata to chicken rice as well! This is understandable as it is a quick and easy fix for the busy hawker, needing to merely place the food in the centre of the paper and fold it along the edges and later securing it with a rubber band.

The only downside: Although the oil does not seep through the packaging, it does stick onto the wax which can be easily become a mess while eating. So watch where your arms go!

4. The Opeh Leaf

The opeh leaf is basically the upgraded version of the oil paper. After local food is wrapped up in the opeh leaf,  it’s flavour is enhanced and given a subtle woody scent.

Local dishes like chwee kueh, char kway teow and hokkien mee are usually wrapped in the opeh leaf. However, this type of packaging is rather rare nowadays due to increasing costs. Let us know if you taste a difference if you do get your hands on this rare opeh leaf yourself!

5. The Banana Leaf

Just like the opeh leaf, the banana leaf enhances the flavour of the food with a subtle sweetness. The banana leaf is also said to have additional health benefits! It has anti-bacterial qualities that makes sure that dining is kept hygienic as well as anti-oxidants that fights free radicals and prevents diseases.

Dishes such as nasi padang, nasi lemak, nyonya kueh and otah are served with the banana leaf. These dishes really do not look complete with the banana leaf, illustrating how essential packaging has become to Singapore’s local delights.

6. The Paper Bag

The paper bag is used to ta bao or takeaway satay sticks, you tiao’s and steamed buns. These little snacks means that the paper bag is perfect packaging as it makes these local delights easy to eat on the go.

The paper bag is also arguably more environmentally friendly and is comparable to paper disposable packages used in restaurants. This shows that paper is really the way to go!

Actionable takeaway:

Try to infuse local influences into your packaging and packages should compliment the dish instead of being merely of utility. Be creative with your packaging disposables.


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