Tuesday, 11 October 2016

What Some People Do at "Chap Fan" Stalls.....

Coming on the heels of a piece I wrote on sushi etiquette, I'm going to do another one, this time (one closer to home) on "chap fan" or mixed rice etiquette...if there's even such a thing! :D

Chap fan is probably one of the most frequently eaten food in our country.  It consists of rice on which we pile our choice of (usually) two to three types of dishes on the rice from a wide selection of various dishes such as meat, seafood, tofu, eggs and vegetables available.  

We'd eat it at least a couple of times a week, some even have it on a daily basis.  It's what some would consider as fast food's cheap, it's fast and it serves the purpose of filling one up.

Over the years, I've eaten my fair share of chap fan and also noticed some undesirable action that some people do at chap fan stalls that prompted me to share some of what I've seen....just for a bit of not-too-serious fun! ;)

#1 - Do not hog the chap fan line

Some people take an eternity to decide what dishes they want.  They'll stand in front of the dishes, looking left and right, but not taking anything and not realising that there's a bunch of people waiting behind.  So, do not hog the chap fan line, make up your mind fast or let those behind you go at it first if you're undecided.

#2 - Do not take forever to choose the parts you want of a particular dish

Closely related to the first one, some people like to pick and choose particular cuts of meat.  For example, the other day I was standing behind this woman who decided on having nam yue fried pork belly...but wanted the lean parts only and picked them out one by one.  And there was your truly, standing beside her, waiting on her, for what seemed like an eternity.
Yes, I can understand that some of us want specific parts of chicken or pork (I do too) but do not dig and dig and dig (like you're digging for gold) it quickly if you must!  Just take a few scoops and if you find the parts you want, fine (you win some, you lose some).  I'm sure our parents would have taught us that it's impolite dining etiquette to turn a dish inside out just to find the specific parts we want. 

#3 - Try not to use another ladle that doesn't belong to the dish

Each dish in a chap fan stall usually comes with a ladle or large spoon for us to pick up the food.  Due to the crowd and impatience of some customers, some tend to use another ladle to pick up the same food that another customer is picking up because they don't want to wait.  I'm not saying you can't use another ladle (if you're pressed for time) but use your common sense to use the 'right' ladle.  I've seen people using the ladle used to scoop up curry to scoop vegetables or one that's used for a dish full of sauce to scoop up something dry...thereby 'staining' some of the other dishes.

#4 - Do not put back what you've already taken

I've actually seen this happened before where a customer will scoop what she has already taken from her chap fan box back into the tray after realising she has taken too much of that dish.  Yes, even though you've not eaten your box or plate of chap fan yet, we don't want your "has-beens" with (sometimes) grains of rice sticking to them! O_o

#5 - Try not to cross over someone else's hands when taking your food

There were also times when an impatient customer will reach for a dish over your hands (whilst you're still scooping that dish).  It's just unbecoming behaviour in my eyes.  Be patient and wait your turn.

#6 - Do not return to the chap fan stall to scoop more sauce

I've also seen customers, who had already dug into their plate of chap fan, returning to the stall to scoop more sauce.  Eww...we're not looking forward to the spoon touching your already eaten (aka 'contaminated') food (even if you're careful to not let it touch your food)! >.<
Even though some might ask the stall helpers to spoon more sauce for them, it's still not pleasant for other customers to see, so scoop enough sauce the first time, people!

#7 - Try not to scoop sauce from a particular dish until there's none left

I know there are some of us who can't eat rice without sauce (me included) but I've seen people scooping sauce (from a dish that he or she's not even having) until it's dry (like the Sahara desert).  I do that too sometimes (and by that I mean I do take sauce from a dish I'm not having) but I make sure I choose one where there's still a lot of sauce to go round.  Have a heart and think about those who'd want to appreciate the dish...with the sauce intact! ^_^ 

#8 - Do not push, nudge or elbow your way to the front

Probably the most annoying behaviour is of those who try to nudge and push their way to the front because of their impatience.  As much as I'd like to see people queue (in a single line) in these chap fan stalls (like I've seen in some stalls and ramadan bazaars), I know it's also physically impossible to do so because of the way some chap fan stalls are set up.  Whatever it is, wait your turn, people, and do not try to 'elbow' your way to the front! >_<

As much as I dislike what some people do at chap fan stalls, it's still one of the most common (and cheapest) meal options we have.
So, how many of you have experienced or seen one (or more) of these scenarios when having chap fan?  Or which ones are you most peeved about? ^_*


  1. Haha, I like this post, so real! But I never see people go back for more sauce, most probably I normally just tapao & leave :P

    1. Glad you liked the post. If you have your chap fan in the shop, I bet you'll see that one day.

  2. I like this post very much! I have experienced #1 and #2. It makes my blood boil!!! I do choose my chicken/pork parts but I make sure that I am not holding anybody up or if there are other people around, I will go get the other dishes and then come back. I usually go early when there is less people around.

    I have even experienced people who take their time to stir and stir the gravy and then take many tiny scoops to put on their rice. Grrrr....

    One chap fan boss complained to me that one rogue customer dug out all the pork from the sweet and sour pork dish, leaving only the vegetables behind. Of course he was charged accordingly hee..hee...

    I have been guilty of #3 because sometimes, the ladle of some dishes go missing. But I make sure that the ladle used is the right ones as you suggested.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post. The missing ladles is the result of impatient customers using them for other dishes that they were not intended for. Some customers have no regard for others...the guy deserves to be charged for picking out just the pork from the sweet & sour pork! >.< Why need to stir and stir the gravy? Gravy is gravy, just take lah!

  3. A wise etiquette list - reminds me of some of my pet peeves back at the chap fan kiosks when I was studying in usm Penang. And some of these tips would also apply for hotel buffets! ;)

    1. I see you've encountered some of these pet peeves too. What, it happens also at hotel buffets! O_o You've given me an idea, I may write a piece on this in future...haha! :D

  4. You know, I think #5 and #8 behaviors are probably direct reactions due to #1 and #2 dilly dallying. Not that I condone all these behavior anyway.

    I've never seen people returning for more sauce after they have paid and are in the midst of eating though. I'm not sure whether to think you are lucky enough to witness it or I am the lucky one not having to witness it. That's the rudest behavior out of your list here, to me personally. To me, once you're paid and done, you're done. Go sit down and eat and don't come back to the buffet line!

    1. This returning for more gravy, I've seen it more than once! Some do it themselves while some get the stall helpers to help them scoop more sauce.

  5. Ha ha, good advice in any place I think.

    1. Yeah, some of these rules apply in general...though some are specific to our chap fan culture.

  6. That is a stonking chap fang👍👍.

    You guys crack me up with your comments. Thanks😊 for brightening up my morning.

    What do you do when someone peeve you off with one of the above pet hates?

    1. I sulk in silence....and, hey, I'm glad this post brightened up your morning :-)


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