Monday 18 December 2017

Why 2017 has been a cheesy year in food (and how to pronounce Llaollao)

Dear food,

We need to talk.

Looking back at 2017 and all we’ve been through together, I think now is a good time to re-examine our relationship.

We can’t go on like this.

It’s not me. It’s yogurt.

Frozen yogurt, to be exact.

To be more exact, it’s Llaollao frozen yogurt.

Is it leaving or staying?

I already said my goodbyes when it was announced that all the Llaollao outlets in Singapore were closing down just as I was getting used to pronouncing Llaollao as “Yaoyao”

You know, because apparently it’s Spanish.

Then last Tuesday, Llaollao Singapore announced on Facebook:
“The company (D+1 Holding) with which we have been developing our brand in Singapore has unilaterally decided to close all the establishments in the country and reopen them under the Yolé Frozen Yogurt brand...

“We would like to emphasise that we have absolutely nothing to do with Yolé Frozen Yogurt.”
Llaollao Singapore added: “We will be back with new stores soon, much sooner than you can expect.”

What’s with this yoyoing between Llaollao and Yolé?

Quit playing games with my heart. It’s not a toy.

Of course, Llaollao wasn’t the only one that cheated my feelings this year.

It’s not yogurt. It’s tea.

Bubble milk tea, to be exact.

To be more exact, it’s Gong Cha, which was replaced by Li Ho in May and then returned to Singapore a couple of weeks ago.

In mathematical terms, Llaollao=Gong Cha and Yolé=Li Ho.

Remember the long queues for the Li Ho cheese tea when Li Ho first opened?

Who knew Singaporeans are such cheeseheads?

So much so that McDonald’s had to respond to complaints last week that its Cheese Loaded Fries turned out to be more like Cheese Lite Fries.

The fast food chain said on Facebook:
"We know that sweet dreams are made of cheese (and sour cream) and it's nacho fault. We've relooked our processes to ensure that we load up the right amount of sauces so you won't get cheesed-off."

It was gouda McDonald’s to address the negative cheddar about its Cheese Loaded Fries, but ricotta done without the cheesy cheese puns.

This wasn’t even the first time McDonald’s cheated my feelings this year.

In July, the company launched the nasi lemak burger to celebrate National Day only to have the burger sold out weeks before National Day and then brought it back weeks after National Day.

So even though it was supposed to be for National Day, you couldn’t actually get the nasi lemak burger on National Day.

That was just brie-liant, McDonald’s.

Of course, McDonald’s wasn’t the only burger restaurant that disappointed me in 2017.

In June, Burger King introduced the gingery Hainanese chicken burger, which made me ashamed to be Hainanese.

A post shared by SM Ong (@sm_ong) on

Then in October, the company unleashed the Stacker, a burger that was touted to have as many layers of meat and cheese as you wanted.

But as I discovered, the tallest Stacker that Burger King would pre-stack for you was only five layers.

If you wanted more, you were provided with the additional meat and cheese separately, and you had to build the more-than-five-layer Stacker yourself.

Hey, Burger King, I just want a burger. Not play Jenga with my food.

Not to be left out, KFC also broke a few hearts with the Chizza, which got me most excited in February.

It was like a Hawaiian personal pizza but with fried chicken as its crust.

For people who think pineapple on pizza is a crime against nature, the Chizza would probably be a capital offence.

In other chicken-related news this year, Ikea stopped selling its fried chicken wings in May because “our chicken wings have not been meeting our customers’ satisfaction recently”.

But like the nasi lemak burger and Gong Cha, the wings were back soon after.

Did absence make the stomach grow fonder?

Or just created bogus pent-up demand?

I like you, food, but I just can’t take much more of this emotional ping-pong.

I wish I knew how to quit you.

Just when I thought I was out, you pull me back in with the Long Cheesemas Burger.

Because of you, I’m getting feta every year.

I guess no one wants to provolone.

Good thing I’m not lactose-intolerant.

So it’s adiós (that’s Spanish for goodbye) — until the next meal.

- Published in The New Paper, 18 December 2017