After reading the posts from Scribbling Girl and Quirky Hill about how to order ‘Cai Fan’ like a pro, I am inspired to write about what I have learnt during the years of buying ‘Cai Fan’ aka economical rice (杂菜饭).
I only started eating ‘Cai Fan’ regularly after I began working. When I am outside, I seldom eat ‘Cai Fan’ as I think they are not as good my mum’s 三菜一汤 (common asian dinner for the whole family with 2 meat, 1 vegetable and soup accompanied with a tub of rice).
Reasons for eating ‘Cai Fan’
- Cheap. It is so much cheaper than chicken rice, wanton noodle or yong tau fu in the food court.
- Full. It is considered as a balanced diet with rice, meat and veggy. Therefore you will not get hungry so easily after meal.
- Fast. The store may have the longest queue but the queue is usually very fast. The store helpers are well-trained in serving and collecting the money. At least much faster than those highly rated food store.
- Variety. So many type of food, you can eat different combination everyday.
Actually after years of eating ‘Cai Fan’, I am more or less experienced to handle the tricks by the unethical food seller. Below is the tips to prevent you from falling prey to overpriced ‘Cai Fan’ and lousy food
5 Tips on how to order ‘Cai Fan’ for beginner
- Figure out what combination you want.
- Meat-veggy-rice, meat-meat-rice, veggy-veggy-rice, meat-veggy-veggy-rice…
- Best combination is meat-veggy-rice. Balanced and value for money. Can be as cheap as $2 for this combination.
- Double check with the food seller whether the dish you pick is considered as meat or veggy type.
- Mushroom and broccoli dish sometimes may group under meat dish as it contains barely visible minced pork.
- Steamed egg with and without minced meat cost differently.
- Seller may recommend you to buy their special dish which cost double the price of meat dish.
- Food you seldom see like squid, clams and chicken feet usually cost more.
- Chicken drumstick, whole fish or slice of fish also cost more.
- The way you say more rice make a difference too. For kind seller, if you say 多一点饭, they might give you a fuller scoop of rice without additional charge while 加饭 will add 20 cents more.
- Remember to add gravy. You get an extra taste without the extra cost.
For those new in Singapore and want to save on their meals, you can follow the above tips for eating good and cheap.