Tips To Maximise Your Cai Png Buck
Cai png, or economic rice is the staple food for Singaporeans.
Sold in every hawker centre, coffee shop and food court available, it’s to go-to meal for when you’re looking for a quick, and most importantly, cheap meal — apart from cooking at home, that is.
While many of us have heard of tips such as repeatedly pointing at the dish or ordering the meat first to get the most out of your money, the truth is, none of these tips work in real life.
Here are 10 Dos and Don’ts when ordering economic rice, according to a cai fan xiao di who answered questions on a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA).
1. Avoid the kang kong
According to the store helper, a dish to absolutely avoid would be the kang kong.
Vegetables are generally washed twice en masse as part of cooking preparations. However, some are tougher to clean than the others for various reasons.
Because of the crevices in the stems of the kang kong, they’re usually the hardest to be properly cleaned.
As such, the bugs within these hollow passageways might not come out, despite washing them in water.
Which is why according to him, if you were to “find a vegetable that has the most worms, it’s probably those”.
A better alternative? Try the broccoli.
2. Go for egg and tofu instead
If you’re looking for clean food, a good option would be to go for the ever-popular egg and tofu dishes.
In addition to tasting really good, these ingredients generally require no washing due to the way they were packed — or in the egg’s case, hatched.
So you won’t have to worry about any getting any unwanted guests or stomach problems after if you stick to them.
3. Don’t go for meat with tons of sauce
Aside from containing a ton of sugar, some sellers use the sauce to mask the actual amount of food. Which means you’re actually getting smaller than the standard portion — which most of you already feel regardless.
He also lists the dory fish as an example of a meat to avoid as it’s simply “dodgy cream dory masked by sauce”.
Furthermore, he adds that some of the meat you see may simply be leftovers from the previous day with sauce thrown onto it for a fresh flavour.
In fact, a lot of the dishes available are actually the same vegetables and poultry with different sauces on it.
4. Har cheong gai has the most bang for buck
For food with the most bang for your buck, the har cheong gai (prawn paste chicken) is probably the most worth it in terms of value.
Although he generally feels that any food with the least amount of sauce on to mask the amount is worth selecting.
On the flipside, the cabbage and beansprout dishes are the most profitable for stall owners, due to the ease in preparation.
5. For hot and fresh food, just ask
Most of the food you see on display had been cooked hours ago and are kept warm by heat conduction through the metal plates below holding them.
Which is why it’s not uncommon for the food served to be cold.
When asked about actually getting hot and fresh food for your meal, his answer was simple — just ask the person what was freshly made.
They’d be more than willing to point out what was the most recently prepared.
Pro tip: If the kangkong has evolved into a dark forest-y green colour, don’t get it. It’s been left out for far too long.
6. Repeatedly pointing at the food doesn’t get you a bigger portion
Ah, the infamous cai png “life hack” of simply slowing down your order and repeatedly pointing at your desired food.
By doing so, you’ll be able to subconsciously prompt the cai png seller to give you additional scoops while waiting for your next order, right?
Not likely. What you’ll get instead is asked if you want a second portion — which kinda defeats the entire purpose.
While it’s true that rushing through orders might result in being given a lesser amount, it’s more so because adequate time wasn’t provided for the owner to give a proper serving instead.
Not because your finger has magical influencing abilities.
7. Nor will ordering the meat first
And no, ordering the meat – or the more expensive dishes – first won’t result in getting bigger portions either.
The seller won’t think that you’re a baller willing to spend big by selecting the most expensive dish first.
There’s portion control, no matter which order you select the ingredients in.
Depending on the dish, one serving is generally 4 small pieces, 3 big ones, or one kiap of the tongs.
Although it’s possible that getting the vegetables last may strategically be the most beneficial due to its smaller size, but that’s about it.
8. Asking for less rice doesn’t result in more ingredients either
Same goes with asking for less rice.
See above for portion control.
9. Be friendly and kind to staff
This one kinda goes without saying — you shouldn’t even be rude to others in the first place. But more often than not, showing someone kindness and friendliness could result in unexpected benefits.
Benefits in the form of additional ingredients.
Cai png sellers are people too. People with feelings who wouldn’t mind giving you more if you’re super happy and bubbly.
However if you’re talking on the phone and holding up the line or generally being rude, you can expect the minimum serving.
Alternatively, you can try being a chiobu. It’s confirmed that they get more scoops.
10. Order during off-peak periods to save money
As the cai png sellers are human too, they’re prone to making mistakes as well.
Which is why you shouldn’t be surprised if you notice a slight change in price for the same dishes at times.
This is because during peak periods such as lunch and dinner, simple tasks such as basic math functions and counting change while packing the food become immensely more challenging. Hence there might be a difference when ordering during peak and non-peak periods.
But don’t be too alarmed, the difference is usually just a few cents — which we’re sure you can afford anyway.
Your newfound knowledge of eating cai png
There you have it, 10 dos and don’ts to improve your cai png eating experience.
The next time you decide to eat at one, try out some of these tips and see if you notice a difference.
At the end of the day no matter who you are, cai png is life.
Featured image from Wikimedia Commons.