THE FOOD CONNOISSEUR:
YONG WEI KAI
Explore wonderful gastronomic delights and food photography
Meet 28-year-old Yong Wei Kai (@yongweikai) - a food aficionado on a mission to explore the wonderful gastronomic delights out there and share his passion for food photography with the world.
As the founder of SGCafeHopping.com (@sgcafehopping), a Café and Restaurant reviews website, Wei Kai is recognised as one of the veterans in the local foodie community. A marketer by day, a food critic by night, the jovial chap gets plenty of invitations to various tasting events, goes on weekly food hunts and has the opportunity to explore different cuisines while living life out loud.
It is no coincidence that Wei Kai is as passionate in food photography as he is in blogging for food reviews. A scroll through his personal and café reviews social feeds quickly reveal his talent and mastery in the art of food photography. For the aspiring foodies, read on to gain meaningful insights and learn from the pro.
1. What inspired you to start SGCafeHopping.com as a cafe and restaurant reviews website?
I wanted to write down my thoughts, experience and chronicle my multitude of café-hopping adventures. That’s where I discovered my passion for food blogging. Today, SGCafeHopping has evolved to feature the best of local food, gourmet, restaurants, cafes and many more. In fact, it was nominated for Best Website of the Year 2018 by the Singapore Website Awards.
2. How do you go about writing food reviews on your website?
My mantra is to give an overall feel or history of the establishment that I am covering, followed by photos, descriptions and my personal take of the dishes I fancy. Actually, I would prefer to call SGCafeHopping a Food Blog that I share my personal food adventures with the world than a website.
3. Tips for aspiring foodies when doing food reviews would be...
The most important thing is to be as truthful as you can. The experience with food is very personal and subjective. What one likes doesn’t equate the same for others and vice versa. Keep your review easy to understand and always give your unbiased opinion with proper descriptions.
4. How will you describe the cafe-hopping culture in Singapore and globally?
I would say the café scene in Singapore is very vibrant. Personally, I love to spend my weekends in a nice café. In fact, there’re so many cafes in Singapore and people are spoiled with choices! Being a fast-paced society, I guess Singaporeans are looking for places, in this case, cafes, to unwind and chill out with their loved ones or friends. Oh yes, many Singaporeans love to work in a cosy and quiet café too.
In comparison to countries with strong café cultures like Australia, Korea or even Thailand, I don’t think we lose out because as a cosmopolitan society, the food offering of local cafés is very diverse.
5. What is a good café and what would you like to see more from cafes in Singapore?
The local café scene in Singapore is ever-evolving and it would be unique to infuse in local elements that celebrate the rich and diverse local food culture in their menus. The music, ambience, coffee and food are important factors to be a café with a good setting. One thing though, service is a key factor.
6. The reasons people go to cafe these days...
I can’t deny that most people head to the café because its in-trend which is evident in long queues when an overseas F&B establishment opens in Singapore. But, I will also say that most people do so because they want to have a nice place to hang out and enjoy a nice meal with good company.
7. Why do you think the café culture is popular with millennials?
Cafes are trendy and provide an unpretentious setting that makes them feel at ease in a casual environment in comparison with an upmarket restaurant. Moreover, more and more cafés are providing value-for-money or special student prices to attract younger crowds.
8. The trend for cafes in the next 1 to 2 years would be...
There’s a strong sustainable movement in recent years in “greening” of cafes and I’m happy to see that. In fact, I believe more and more cafes will be practising sustainability as there is a trend where many customers prefer to purchase from responsible establishments that do their bit to protect the environment.
9. How do you decide which restaurant or cafe you will be visiting next?
I have a sweet tooth! Usually, I scan through the dessert menu before I decide to check out a café. If not, I’ll ask my foodie friends if they have visited the food establishment and if it’s worth checking out.
10. If you could start your own café, what kind of cuisine will you offer?
Definitely DESSERT! It would be Matcha and taro themed desserts. No doubt about it! Both are my go-to desserts when I go café-hunting in Singapore.
11. What do you think is a must-have item in a café menu?
A café definitely should have a proper brunch menu. For me, some of the must-have items include Avocado Toast and Egg Benedict.
12. What is your favourite cuisine of food and why?
I really like our local food! We have such a wide variety to choose from and Singapore is truly a melting pot of food and cultures. When I was in Korea for my exchange programme for 8 months, I missed our local delights dearly! My favourites would be our local carrot cake and nasi lemak.
13. Can you cook? Which style of cuisine do you enjoy cooking most?
I can cook simple dishes but I enjoy eating the most! Haha!
14. What are some of your favourite coffee brews?
I usually go for a cup of Latte, Mocha or Matcha Latte
15. What are some of the most interesting coffee that you have personally tried?
This has to be one of the most unique combinations I came across – coconut cold brew infused with alcohol!
16. Where do you usually get your food styling inspirations from?
The internet is my best friend but honestly, practice makes perfect!
17. What are some tips you would offer to further enhance food styling to stand out?
I would usually go with shots that involve movement such as – pouring shots or introducing other elements such as having hands in the frame.
18. Which mobile apps do you usually use for your photo editing?
Snapseed is one of my personal favourites. Here are some tips – to make the food more flattering, I’ll use ‘Structure’ to further highlight the details of the food. I’ll also ‘Heal’ unwanted spots such as removing stains on the table to make the picture cleaner.
19. How to work with tricky food items (eg: ice-cream/molten lava cakes/whipped
The trick is to have a mood board in place. You don’t have to do a very detailed one, just a skeleton of it would do. For me, I’m used to taking photos of difficult food items and I usually do a mood board in my head before I start. Also, do some test shots at the area you would want to shoot before you actually shoot the dishes.
20. What are some tricks you do for short IG videos?
The attention span of people is getting shorter, so it would be good if you can do a video in less than 30 seconds. Concise everything! I usually put the climax at the start of my videos to attract the attention of the viewers.
SHOP THE STYLE
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