Building his reputation online as an anonymous food critic, former Kuching Food Critics’ Facebook admin and food blogger Ah Ong, shares his previous experiences being a food operator and also about his latest endeavour.
A new level of authenticity
Among the many food groups on Facebook, one that is prominent with over 120,000 members is ‘Kuching Food Critics’ (KFC). Popular for its brazen content of constructive criticisms toward food operators, the group founder and former admin Ah Ong hopes to see the local food industry grow positively.
Speaking to the food blogger who wants to be known only as Ah Ong, he decided to create KFC 13 years ago, from Friendster to Facebook, to find the best places to eat. “People always ask me whether I opened the group to let them know the best places to dine in Kuching. On the contrary, it is because I don’t know where they are, so I was hoping to get the info from other members of the group!”
Another reason he created the group was that he hopes consumers could spend their hard earn money eating food that are worth the value. “Through KFC, food operators will be more vigilant when serving food. They will practise quality control and from the feedback, their service can improve. As customers, working from day to night, of course we hope to enjoy good food with our hard-earnedmoney.”
Speaking from his experience as a former food operator, the 36-year-old shared that his family used to own a bakery. “We employed two workers to run the bakery. However, after five years, our sales dropped drastically. We only earned a portion of our average sales.”
Thinking it was due to external issues, Ah Ong and his family thought nothing of it. “Until one day, the neighbouring shopowner told me that my worker always went away during operation time. According to him, after I delivered the baked goods to the bakery, she would arrange it and then left with her boyfriend for the whole day. She would only return at 5pm, as she knew I would come at 6pm.”
Furthermore, he added that the worker would change the expiry dates of the bread and resell it. “And the money will go into her own pocket. So all this mishaps made me wonder whether there is a platform to inform business operators. So when someone complains, at least we would know.”
However, he shared that nowadays, many business owners are not open to criticism. “They always refer to it as if people are trying to bring down their business. But actually, critics can be good if you take it positively and try to improve.”
Ah Ong Food Diary
Recently, Ah Ong left the KFC group, and founded his own personal group ‘Ah Ong Food Diary’ to continue sharing what he loves — food.
Wanting to get away from the stress and time-consuming affairs of administering the KFC group, he continued his original journey as a food blogger, “Instead of being responsible for a group of people sharing their thoughts on food, now, I only need to be responsible for my own actions and words.”
Despite no longer being an admin of the group, he still chose to remain anonymous. “I hope to stay this way as I can present my critics freely. If I let everybody knows who I am, they would ‘specially’ prepare my food, and I don’t want that. I want to enjoy the food as it is.
“For example, let’s say some people complain that a laksa at a certain place only has three prawns inside. If I go there and the food operator knows that I am Ah Ong the Food Critic, they would put in 10 prawns inside in the hopes that I will promote them. And that is what I try to avoid.”
“Furthermore, the owners would not ask me to pay in return for a promotion on my page. To me, this feels like bribery!” he opined.
Making a comeback through his personal account, Ah Ong also introduced a new concept of sharing food. “Now, for each food comment, I would also share the measurements.” Using either a ruler or a measuring tape, the food connoisseur would measure the size of the contents for his followers.
“Initially when I started the concept, I was so embarrassed to take out my ruler to measure the food,.” However, his followers loved the concept, describing it as a new level of authenticity.
Asked whether he gained any weight ever since he started food blogging, Ah Ong said, “I used to be skinny. But I just love to eat and will dine out almost every day.”
Ah Ong revealed he would eat at least three meals a day. “But sometimes, I would go for as much as five meals a day including supper and titbits.”