Ending food FOMO: the technologies changing the nature of eating out

Paul Sakkal
Mr Yum's interactive menu in action at Mexican haunt Mamasita.
Mr Yum's interactive menu in action at Mexican haunt Mamasita. Photo: Eddie Jim

The waiter says it's delicious, so you order the squid ink pasta.

It arrives at your table, but nobody told you it was going to be black.

You don't want a black pasta.

Could this have been avoided? Imagine being able to hover your phone over the restaurant's menu and instantly see a picture of the dish you were considering ordering.

A new website called Mr Yum allows diners to view mobile versions of a menus featuring photos of each dish.

It works using QR codes: users hover their phone over a barcode-like logo to be diverted to a website where they can view a menu.

The online menu is interactive and indicates whether dishes are vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free.

It also provides pop-up definitions of those ingredients and dishes that leave you scratching your head. No more awkward questions to the waiter to sort your bibimbap from your baba ghanoush.

Mr Yum is the brainchild of co-founders Kim Teo, Adrian Osman and Kerry Osborn, and is being launched at fine diners in Melbourne including Mamasita and Lucy Liu in the CBD, as well as cafes Proud Mary [Collingwood] and St Ali [South Melbourne].

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"Whenever we went out to eat, we found ourselves spying around the room and trawling social media accounts for amateur pictures of the food, to avoid the disappointment of ordering the wrong thing", says Kim.

Having just signed a partnership with hospitality company the Australian Venue Co – owners of establishments like the Imperial Hotel and the Beer Deluxe chain – Mr Yum will be rolled out at another 50 venues nationally in coming months.

It's one of a host of new technologies changing the way we dine. Many of these clever apps and websites are aimed at smoothing out the rough edges of eating out that sometimes prove cumbersome or awkward.

Groupee, an app created in Sydney, aims to put an end to the mathematical shemozzle diners face at the end of meals when calculating what each person owes.

A "host" invites all other diners on the table to join the group payment, automatically deducting their fair share from their bank account which is hooked up to the app.

Vivino, meanwhile, is a pocket sommelier. Users can can take a photo of a wine label, or even a specific restaurant's wine list, before being provided ratings, reviews, average prices, tasting notes and even suggested food pairings.

If a particular drop makes a big impression, the app even allows users to order a bottle to your home.

So no more meal envy, no more split bill debates, and no more disappointing wine picks. Why would you eat at home?