'Cost price of 1 piece of batang is $8': Stall owner in $11 'cai fan' debate says pricing is reasonable

As food prices increase, consumers aren’t the only ones having a hard time coping. 

On Wednesday (June 15), a Reddit user took to the online platform to lament about paying $11 for a packet of rice with a piece of fried batang (mackerel) fish and some yong tau foo

The user’s post sparked a debate among netizens, some of whom described the meal as a rip-off. Conversely, there were others who felt that the price was justified given the premium ingredients the user chose. 

Since then, the stall owner, a 64-year-old woman known as Cai, has come out to give her side of the story. 

Speaking to Shin Min Daily News, she said she is aware of the heated discussion that her food has sparked online.

She has been running the cai fan stall together with her husband at Mayflower Market & Food Centre for the past 12 years. 

She added the customer who bought the $11 meal was not a frequent customer and was perhaps unaware of the stall’s usual prices.

Batang fish is generally more expensive and has become even more costly given the recent inflation. 


Cai went on to explain: “There are different grades of batang. The ones I pick are better and they are thickly-sliced. The cost price of one piece of batang is about $7 or $8 and I only charged him $9. I didn’t charge him the rice and takeaway container, how is that expensive? 

“I also informed him that the batang would be more expensive and confirmed if he wanted to choose the dish.”

Cai also told reporters from 8world that she only buys fresh fish as opposed to frozen. “I’m different from the others, I always buy the expensive ones.” 

Although she does not clearly state the price of each specific dish at her stall, Cai will take the initiative to inform customers if there’s a price increase for any dish. 

Reporters from Shin Min also spoke to the stall’s regular customers, who echoed similar views. 

One of them, who declined to be named, said he’s been patronising the stall for about 10 years because of the freshness and variety of their dishes. 

“Some items are more expensive than others. Everyone who’s been buying fish and vegetables know that everything has increased in price lately. If you’re scared of paying more, then ask [the stall owner] before buying, you shouldn’t [complain],” he commented.


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