Wednesday 20 May 2020
Stack rojak ingredients for height, and length was created by brushing the sauce across the plate. Photo: Wolf Blass

Chances are that you’ve thought about having a meal in your favourite eatery, but feel a little hesitant to do that with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, this does not have to stop while we all #dudukrumah and practice physical distancing. It is still possible to get restaurant-grade dining experience, at the comfort of your own home. The secret? Plating.

Dining in at restaurants is an experience we all enjoy partly because we tend to eat with our eyes first. This is why properly plating your favourite takeaways can seriously elevate your home dining experience.

To put together a beautiful plate, we spoke to Wolf Blass and food photographer Chloe Cheng from Singapore-based Daydream Studio on how to recreate Instagram-worthy meals. Here are several plating tips to elevate your takeout:

Tip: The finishing touch of garnishing elevates any meal. Photo: Wolf Blass


Proper packaging

“One of the first few things to watch out for are the cooked ingredients and whether they can stand the test of heat and time,” explains Cheng. It is ideal to request for sauces, gravy or wet ingredients to be kept separate when you order your meal, so that everything stays fresher for longer. “So, when you plate your food, you only have to reheat the sauce.”

Basically, with all the cooked ingredients packed separately, plating and presentation becomes relatively simpler.

The right tableware

Tableware is important as the plate size can influence the perception of the quantity and portion of the food. To give an example, fine dining restaurants typically use dinner plates that are around 30 cm or appetiser plates that are 18-23 cm.

The colour of the plate also plays a role as it can complement or contrast with the food, depending on the impact that is wanted. The white plate is most popular because the starkness puts the focus on the food. Just think of this from a visual arts perspective, where the concept of white space or negative space is important.

Colour matters

Does your dish have colour and contrast? Try to arrange your ingredients such that the colours stand out against the sauce.

Tasteful placement

The easiest rule is that the main ingredient in the dish should take up the most space on the plate. It helps to think of the plate as a clock. Place the protein – or whatever your main meal is – between 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock; the starch or carbohydrate comes next at 9 o’clock and 12 o’clock, and lastly your vegetable is from 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock.

When ordering noodles with gravy like mee rebus, pack the gravy separately and think about tasteful presentation. Photo: Wolf Blass


Height also plays a role. Create height or length on your plate – elongating your ingredients can go a long way towards enhancing visual appeal.

Finish with texture

Finally, use texture to enhance your final plate. Once all the main ingredients are plated, finish by tossing the garnishing all over. This method is commonly used in high-end cuisines to create a mix of textures that would also present a delightful mouthfeel.