I love Cai Fan. It is affordable and tasty (most of the time). And I sometimes look at pictures of Cai Fan.
And I’m not the only one. My boss believes in my love for cai png too.
My go-to meal is the sliced potato with brown sauce, tomato egg, whatever chicken they have and I always want jiang (sauce). Depending on where I am, this usually costs me from $3 – $5.
But not all the time.
A Not-So-Economical Economical Rice
On 9 May 2019, Andrew Loh was in Seng Kang General Hospital in search of a meal and decided to have cai fan.
This is what Andrew chose to order: Long beans mixed with minced pork, sweet and sour pork and an unidentified orange square piece of meat. I’m thinking that’s otah.
Let’s analyse it:
Health: Pretty good. The dietician of the hospital would be satisfied. A generous portion of vegetable and not too much meat. The plate seems pretty colourful.
Portion: As a consumer, my first comment would definitely be ‘too little sweet and sour pork!’
As a seasoned cai fan eater, I would estimate the price to be $4.
Why so high?
Because it is in the food court, which means I need to factor in the air con cost and higher rent. The portion of sweet and sour pork seems a little stingy to me, but okay, I will not overeat.
What actually went down
When one goes to a cai fan store, one usually scans the wide array of dishes available and begins to curate the meal for that day.
Andrew probably did not check the price list of the ingredients because how expensive can cai fan be right? Wrong!
To his shock, he was quoted $6.60 for his plate of Caifan.
Thinking he heard wrongly, Andrew double checked with the server if it was indeed $6.60.
To which he was he was replied with cold hard silence and a blank look. What can the server do? He is just following the direction that his boss has taken.
Andrew then decided to take the issue to Facebook to share his dismay at the cost and even said that this just proves #morereasonstocookathome.
The high cost of living
It is no secret that the cost of living is rising in Singapore.
When I read this post, I cannot help but think about the lower wage workers who work hard to make sure that the hospital is running for everyone. I also think about the patients who are probably not from the upper echelons of society (they would be in private hospitals, and even then, the cai fan in Raffles Hospital is only $4.50 #triedandtasted).
$6.60 may be almost an hour’s wage for some.
There’s some who compared hospital food and food places nearby.
Eat fast food instead
Ironically, some commented that it would be more affordable to eat Fast Food than in the hospital.
Pack own food
Others seconded Andrew’s sentiments and said that it might be better to pack their own food to eat as the cost of eating out is getting too high.
While some highlighted that Koufu’s prices are generally quite high.
Income inequality in Singapore
Now, time for my two-cents worth:
There is a growing economic divide in Singapore. With a Gini coefficient of 0.401, the disparity between the rich and poor in Singapore is growing even wider.
It is imperative that we do not make those who earn a lower income feel like a second class citizen, where they cannot even afford a humble meal with honest work.
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