Customer shocked by S$6.60 economical rice at Koufu in Sengkang General Hospital
Update on May 14, 9:15am: A Koufu spokesperson supplemented that the beverage ordered by the customer (Teh C Kosong) costs S$1.10 for dine-in.
Cai png, also known as “economical rice”, is usually seen as an economical option for meals.
But one Andrew Loh did not find that to be the case.
Pricing not a mistake
On May 9, 2019, Loh, one of the co-founders of socio-political site The Online Citizen, wrote a Facebook post about his meal at Koufu in Sengkang General Hospital.
According to the post, a plate of economical rice with two meat dishes and one vegetable dish had cost him S$6.60:
In disbelief, Loh asked the server about the price, who broke it down to S$2 per ingredient, and another S$0.60 for the rice.
However, the vegetable dish may have been counted as a meat item, due to the minced meat used.
Elsewhere, the average price for the same portion is around S$3.50 – S$4.
With a cup of tea at S$1.80, Loh’s meal totalled S$8.40.
This was Loh’s Facebook caption:
“This plate of food, $6.60. Koufu at Sengkang General Hospital. Got a shock. I asked the server: how come 6.60? Ya, he said. 2 meat and I veggie – each $2. Rice $0.60.
I looked at him and said: it’s very expensive. I repeated it. He just looked at me.
Bought a small cup of tehsi kosong. $1.80.
Total: $8.40 for that meal.
Pricer than the average foodcourt
A quick scout at the foodcourt confirms that the prices match Loh’s Facebook post.
More expensive items are marked out in blue, for S$3:
More menu options:
In an article on May 12, Lianhe Zaobao also reported that Koufu at Sengkang General Hospital is indeed pricer than the average food court.
In fact, most other items cost around S$5 – S$6, although certain stalls, such as chicken rice and noodles, have items below S$5.
Speaking to the Chinese daily, a 28-year-old customer observed that prices at this foodcourt are comparatively higher than other hospitals’ foodcourts.
“With a drink, a meal will cost at least S$7 – S$8. My family and I would rather visit other independent eateries in the hospital or the shopping mall opposite. Prices are about the same, but the quality of the food is better than the average foodcourt’s.
Another resident argued that the prices shouldn’t be that high, as those who visit the public hospital are average citizens.
Koufu: Different operating costs
In an interview with Zaobao, a spokesperson for Koufu explained that the operating costs at Sengkang General Hospital differs from that of other areas, therefore affecting prices.
The spokesperson added that since last year end, stalls have been selling value meals for S$2.80, and hospital staff enjoy discounts as well.
“We’ll gather the public’s feedback and reflect if there’s a need to adjust the prices of certain food items, in order to ensure that it’s something everyone can afford.
An industry insider explained that the food at hospitals’ food court may be more expensive due to its location and longer operating hours, which raises overhead costs.
Additionally, there might also be less competition at such locations (including airports), which leads to higher rent and thus, higher-priced products.
Top image by Zhangxin Zheng and Andrew Loh
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