Ele Me?: Concordia's Food Delivery Craze
by Evelyn S., Concordia Applied Journalism
11:30 means lunchtime for the high school, but many students aren’t going to the cafeteria to get their food. Instead, they’re heading for the Huangyang Road gate. Their lunch is waiting for them in the guard house by the gate, wrapped up in plastic and paper bags with order receipts taped to the side. Delivery men, standing by their blue motorcycles, wait impatiently for their waimai (food delivery) orders to be picked up.
It’s clear that the waimai craze has swept across China in the past few years, especially with the debut of apps like Ele.me and Meituan. Ele.me, which is Chinese for “are you hungry?”, is part of China’s tech conglomerate Alibaba, while Meituan is owned by its rival (and WeChat’s parent company) Tencent. These apps have made ordering food - and paying for it - as easy as a few taps on your phone.
“I think waimai got popular due to the increasing busyness of students and adults, which renders less time for them to eat out,” explains student Bill Y. “Instead, they settle for something easier and quicker. I actually ordered a KFC set for lunch using Ele.me today,” he adds.
It’s clear that Concordia has caught the waimai fever. Students order all kinds of waimai for lunch online - pizza, fast food, dumplings, even pasta. It all depends on their preference. “My favorite order is McDonalds 79 yuan meal with 3 burgers,” says Bill. “I like to order Papa John’s pizza,” adds fellow student Anne L.
Throughout the day, students also order food during their study hall, or after school. Bubble tea, coffee, fried chicken, and ice cream are popular choices. “I order fried chicken from Super Chicken about once a week,” says senior Justin C. Among Concordia students, the lemon chicken popcorn from Super Chicken is a favorite. Anne L, on the other hand, likes to order bubble tea from YiDianDian. YiDianDian is no doubt Concordia’s favorite place to grab bubble tea from: it boasts cheap prices and a customizable menu with many choices. Sometimes, one can even sneakily place an order on their phone during class... If you’re fast enough, you can run to the guard house and pick up your order between classes!
“Ordering waimai is convenient and offers more variety. I ordered lunch online when our food provider was down,” Justin says. If you order from a store that is within a few kilometers away, the waimai often takes no more than half an hour to get here!
For many students, waimai, though often more expensive and potentially unhealthy, is considered a better-tasting alternative to school lunch. Anne suggests that “waimai is getting really popular because of its convenience and also the fact that it’s cheap and tasty - better than school lunch. I always order lunch online,” she admits, laughing. Anne is a seasoned orderer of waimai: “I order 2-3 times a week, using both Ele.me and Meituan.”
Not only is food delivery convenient, but it may also serve a de-stressing purpose for Concordia’s busy students. It’s common to see students sipping coffee or bubble tea during class, though carefully so as not to disrupt everyone else’s learning. Perhaps the comfort of ordering unhealthy food - a relief from the stresses of school - is yet another reason why waimai has caught on so well at school.
YiDianDian’s Secret Menu
YiDianDian is no doubt the most popular place to order bubble tea from. Maybe go beyond your basic green milk tea order and try something a little crazy next time:
Chocolate milk with ice cream and oats
Order: 阿华田 (chocolate milk) + 冰淇淋 (vanilla ice cream) + 燕麦 (oats) + 去冰 (no ice) + 无糖 (no sugar)
This chocolate milk/vanilla ice cream combination is a refreshing summer choice! (We are in the middle of winter, but you can try this if you’re daring enough.) You can add oats if you want. The sweet chocolate milk and cold ice cream eliminates the need for more ice and sugar.
2. Black tea macchiato with ice cream and boba
Order: 红茶玛奇朵 (black tea macchiato) + 珍波椰 (small boba, large boba, and coconut jelly) + 冰淇淋 (ice cream) + 去冰 (no ice) + 无糖 (no sugar)
The macchiato itself consists of black tea, with a dash of frothy milk on top. If you don’t want ice cream, make sure to order 三分甜 (30% sugar) because the macchiato is bitter without sugar. This is a nice drink for winter - you can also try it warm!
3. Chocolate milk with pudding
Order: 阿华田 (chocolate milk) + 布丁 (pudding) + 去冰 (no ice) + 无糖 (no sugar)
This drink is almost like a dessert! Make sure to leave some room in your stomach, as the pudding can be quite filling (and sweet - no need for more sugar).
4. Oolong milk tea with red beans and boba
Order: 乌龙奶茶 (Oolong milk tea) + 红豆 (red beans) + 波霸 (boba) + 三分甜 (30% sugar) + 去冰 (no ice)
The oolong tea and red beans give this order a traditional feel. (Personally, I really like YiDianDian’s oolong tea. It doesn’t taste overly sweet or “fake”.) You can switch out 30% sugar for no sugar if you’d like, since the red beans are a little bit sweet. I also wouldn’t recommend ice in your drinks because they tend to water down the taste.