If you have never heard of BonAppetour, you have NO idea what you’re missing out.
Video Source: BonAppetour
Named one of 8 start-ups that’ll make your travel experiences so much better by CNN, BonAppetour is set to change the way you dine while travelling. And get this: BonAppetour is a Singapore-based startup! Woohoo! Yay Singapore!
If you love travelling, I am sure you will be familiar with the likes of AirBnB or Homeaway (where local hosts offer up their homes for travellers) and how they have redefined our accommodation choices. Similarly, BonAppetour is redefining our dining choices by letting travellers visit a local host’s home for a home-cooked meal!
I am somewhat reserved where sharing economy is concerned. While I love the idea of interaction with the locals, I am not ready to stay under the same roof with a host. Last year, during our famhouse stay in Kyoto, our host stayed in the house just next doors and we had plenty of opportunities to interact with him. I knew from then that having the opportunity to interact closely with a local host is a priceless experience that can enhance our travels.
Which is why I was so excited when I found out about BonAppetour. It opened up the opportunity for us travellers to interact closely with locals and visit a local home, without having to go to the extent of staying with them. Though I think my boys were on the verge of staying over at our BonAppetour host’s place – you’ll see why.
- Making flower maki and temari sushi in Tokyo
- Making yakitori, okonomiyaki and udon from scratch in Osaka
- Tea ceremony with traditional Japanese dance and music performance + takoyaki okonomiyaki making in Osaka
- Making mochi in Kyoto
Pretty cool right??
Our BonAppetour Experience in Singapore
We were invited by BonAppetour to try out their service, and to make life easier for myself, I decided to try it out right here in Singapore. I surfed through their range of Singapore hosts and was spoiled for choice. How do I choose between:
- Learning to make Japanese bento
- Peranakan food experience where we could make our own kueh pie tee and popiah
- Singapore Seafood delicacies
- Singapore Laksa with opportunity to tour a local neighbourhood and do leathercraft
So I contacted a few hosts with my preferred dates, checked with them on kids pricing and suitability of the food for my children etc and finally decided to go with Singapore Seafood Delicacies by hosts Alizah & Raja.
Alizah & Raja’s home was located in a typical Singapore residential area. It was a short 5 minutes walk from the nearest MRT station, and you will get a glimpse of regular life in Singapore as you make your way to her humble HDB flat. (HDB flats are our public housing and today, there are more than 1 million HDB flats in Singapore, housing over 80% of Singapore’s resident population. Info Source: HDB website)
We arrived 15 minutes before the scheduled time and Raja was already busy cooking in the kitchen. Alizah welcomed us warmly and made us feel right at home. The boys helped themselves to the TV, the keyboard, the playstation… Gosh, they took the phrase ‘make yourselves at home’ a bit too literally. I was a bit paiseh (embarrassed) but Alizah was totally cool about it.
With the kids well-entertained, Alizah showed us around her home and brought out some drinks for us while waiting for the food to be served.
When the food was served, the kids rushed over to the table to help themselves.
MY attacked the squid first. I dashed over to pop a piece into my mouth to see if they were easy to chew. Because more often than not, when we order fried calamari, they are so hard to chew and the kids end up spitting them out, or worse, choking.
The squid that Raja prepared were so soft and easy to bite! It was such a delight for both kids and adults.
MF, on the other hand, was glued to the vegetable dish. Okay, I think he was more interested in the fish cake in the vegetable dish. And the gravy, which we kept scooping and drizzling all over his rice.
Me, of course, was here for the seafood. Since the salted egg prawn was placed in front of me, I happily helped myself to them. NON-STOP. They were SO GOOD!! Omg, my stomach is growling as I’m writing this, just recalling how yummy the salted egg prawns were.
The other dish in front of me was the clams. I LOVED THEM! I should have taken a photo of the pile of clam shells next to me at the end of the meal. I ate A LOT.
Just like the prawns, the clams were super fresh. And they were so plump and juicy. Mmm…
The chili crab came out last. Singapore is well-known for chili crab, and the ones that Raja prepared was slightly different from what you get at Chinese restaurants like Jumbo. The Jumbo ones are a tad sweeter, whereas Raja’s one was spicier – because he added his own homemade chili mixture. Reminded me of how my mother-in-law would grind her own chili mixture when she wants to make chili crab.
I loved Raja’s chili crab sauce because I love spicy food. As we Singaporeans would say, the chili was so shiok (err.. meaning.. got kick?). And chili crab is usually served with fried buns for us to dip into the sauce. The kids love these fried buns, they would just eat them plain.
By now the kids were done with their food and they had gone off to entertain themselves with whatever they could find in the house.
I was SO glad I was not dining in a restaurant. If you have tried eating crabs when out with kids, you would know it can be a pain. Trying to juggle the kids and the crabs. I have new-found appreciation for home dining – it gets the kids out of the way while I slowly enjoy my food and chatter with the host.
As if we were not full enough, Raja brought out dessert. Which for us was jelly with longan.
And Alizah made us coffee, which we sipped while continuing our chats with her.
Besides the seafood delicacies menu, Raja & Alizah have other menus on BonAppetour:
We learned from Alizah that Raja had appeared on a cooking show before, with his halal bak kut teh. Traditional bak kut teh uses pork, but his halal version used beef. This was not part of the seafood delicacies menu, but Raja prepared it for us to try. It was so unique and the beef was so tender!!
Throughout the whole dinner, I felt like I was dining at an old friend’s home. The conversations flowed freely throughout the meal, and we were there from 7.30pm to 10pm, leaving only because it was the kids’ nap time. Everyone was having so much fun! I am totally sold to the BonAppetour experience. If you visiting Singapore and pondering where to eat in Singapore, how about giving BonAppetour a try?
Heck it, even if you are a Singaporean, there is nothing stopping you from visiting Singapore hosts and making new friends while at it!
Tips for Using BonAppetour
- From BonAppetour’s homepage, I recommend you click on ‘Cities’ use the top search bar to search the city you are visiting. This will bring you to the whole list of hosts for that city and from there, you can browse through their menus and reviews.
- Review reviews, read the reviews. Like all sharing economy concepts, reviews play the most important role in ensuring a safe platform.
- Hit the ‘Contact Host’ button. Don’t be in such a hurry to click ‘Book Now’. Scroll down to find ‘Contact Host’ and send a message to the host to introduce yourself. Raise any special requests you may have (special dietary needs, child-friendly food, pricing for children etc.) first. Also check for minimum party size.
- If you are going to be in the city for a couple of days and are flexible with the date, let the host know. Some hosts are only able to make it for weekends, or do a late dinner on weekdays, due to work commitments. So it would be good to give them a range of dates / timing to work with.
- You can make requests for adjustments to the menu. Make sure you confirm the final menu and number of pax, and the host will accept your booking, stating the final pricing for your party.
- If you are happy with the pricing and menu, proceed to book from your Inbox. You have a choice to pay with credit card or paypal.
- After payment is made, BonAppetour will send you an email with the address and contact information of the host. Make sure you familiarize yourself with how to get to the host’s place and check with the host if you have any doubts.
- Arrive on the day of your booking and enjoy!
Things to watch out for
Just like any sharing economy, it is understandable that there are concerns in terms of safety and hygiene. It takes a leap of faith – just like the first time you booked a BnB or the first time you hopped into a Uber car. Once you have tried it out once, there is not turning back and this sharing economy service is your new best friend. Of course, please read the reviews and chat with the host to get a good feel before booking.
It is also reassuring to note that BonAppetour holds on to your payment and pays to the host 24 hours AFTER your dining. So if you have had any problems with the host (e.g. not delivering the menu as promised), I recommend that you bring it up to BonAppetour IMMEDIATELY after the meal for them to mediate before the payment is sent to the host.
If for any reason you need to cancel your booking (e.g. change of travel plans), full refund excluding fees will be given if you cancel 24 hours prior to booking. If you cancel within 24 hours, refund is at the discretion of the host. (Be fair! They probably bought all the ingredients for your meal already.) >> Read BonAppetour’s cancellation policy.
And just a minor complaint on my part, I felt somewhat handicapped by the lack of a mobile app for BonAppetour, especially while messaging the hosts. Make sure you use an active email account to sign up for your BonAppetour account. I made the mistake of using an email address that is very badly spammed (because I used Facebook to sign up for my BonAppetour account and c’mon, how many of your Facebook email addresses are crazy spammed by now?), so the email notifications from BonAppetour telling me that the host has sent me a message kept getting lost in hundreds of spam mails. I had to log in to BonAppetour site from time to time to see if I missed any messages. I thought a mobile app with a messaging system would solve the problem.
Get USD15 Sign-Up Bonus!
If you are ready to try out BonAppetour, here is how you can get USD15 credit. Simply sign for your BonAppetour account using my referral link below:
> My Referral Link <
Note that the discount code for the USD15 credit is only valid for 6 days upon signing up and for a minimum purchase of USD100. This means that, while there is no restriction on the date of your dining, you have to complete the booking with the discount code within 6 days of signing up.
[disclaim]Disclosure: If you successfully book your BonAppetour experience with the sign-up bonus from my referral link above, I will also receive USD15 credit. Thank you very much! 🙂 [/disclaim]
Read more BonAppetour Experiences
- A Delicious BBQ in Berlin with BonAppetour (By eff it, I’m on holiday)
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Read more reviews on our Singapore Travel Page!
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