In Singapore, one of the cheapest meal deals you can find in the local hawker centers or food courts are the “Economy Rice” stalls. Also known as Chap Chye Png (杂菜饭), Cai Fan or Mixed Vegetable Rice, they sell pre-prepared dishes such as sweet and sour pork, curry chicken, braised tofu and eggs, steamed fish, lemon chicken, sambal fish, omelette and many other vegetable dishes.
To order, you join the queue and pick the side dishes to go with your rice. The price of your meal is determined by the number of meat and vegetable dishes you have on your plate. The more meat dishes you order, the more expensive your meal will be.
So how can you order your plate of economy rice like an expert, where you get to save some money and still have enough to fill your hungry appetite?
Here’s a trick or two for you to try out when you next order your economy rice.
1. Make the correct first move – Meat dishes are more expensive than vegetable dishes. Don’t let the stall owners think that you are a cheapskate. Go for the meat dishes first when you place your order. The stall owner will tend to give you a larger portion.
2. The pointing game – When ordering your food, point at the dish you want as long as you can until that person stop scooping so that the stall owner will subconsciously give you more.
3. It’s all about timing – Don’t rush when ordering. Give the stall owner time to scoop your dish before pointing to the next dish. If the stall owner ask you what other dishes while he is still scooping your first order, ignore him till he finishes with your first order. This is because if you are in a rush, the stall owner will scoop a lesser portion and move on to the next item quickly too.
4. Choice of words – If you are very hungry, you can ask for more rice. But, do say you want more rice (多一点饭) instead of add rice (加饭). The stall owner will probably give you more rice and not charge you extra. This applies to the side dishes you are ordering to go with your rice.
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