Jump to content

Economy rice

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Economy rice
Three plates of economic rice
Alternative namesMixed rice, jaahp faahn, tsa̍p-tshài-pn̄g, keng-tsè-puīnn, pick-pick rice, zhap fan
Region or stateMalaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong
Serving temperatureHot or warm
Food energy
(per serving)
430 kcal (1800 kJ)

Economy rice or economic rice (simplified Chinese: 经济饭; traditional Chinese: 經濟飯; pinyin: jīngjì fàn; Jyutping: ging1 zai3 faan6; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: keng-chè-pn̄g) is a type of food or food stall serving many dishes accompanied by rice, commonly found in hawker centres, street vendors or food courts in Malaysia and Singapore. Specifically in Singapore, it is commonly known as cai png, from the Hokkien 菜饭; cài fàn; chhài-pn̄g. In recent times, due to COVID-19 restrictions and its associated economic impact, this concept has also become popular in Hong Kong.[1]

Economy rice stalls typically consist of a case containing anywhere from 10 to 15 troughs of cooked dishes, including meat, vegetables, eggs and tofu. Customers select any combination of these dishes, which are served accompanied by a portion of steamed white rice, which sometimes is served with curry slathered on the rice. In Singapore, it is more common to find the food on open troughs kept warm by hot water and an electric heater below.



Economy rice is thought of as a predominantly Chinese food; it is roughly analogous to the Malay or Indonesian concept of nasi padang or nasi campur (mixed rice). It is what most Chinese Malaysians and Singaporeans think of when they refer to "home-cooked" food, as it is similar to what would be eaten at home, with rice forming the basis of the meal, accompanied by various cooked dishes.[2] Thus, there is no specific origin for the dish; instead it blends dishes and ingredients from the region they are cooked in.[3]

Economy rice stalls thus evolved as a way for the general public to obtain a quick, and most importantly, cheap meal option outside of home. An economy rice meal is usually one of the cheapest options available for a meal at a hawker centre (hence its name), especially if one is judicious in choosing the less expensive dishes (generally vegetables and tofu).

Common dishes


Common dishes offered at an economy rice stall can include sweet and sour pork, braised tofu, braised cabbage, steamed egg custard, stir-fried Chinese vegetables, fried eggs, and an assortment of deep-fried items.

True to its Chinese origins, most of the dishes on offer tend to have their roots in Chinese cuisine.

Other names


Economy rice is known by several other names, and in general conversation it is rare for anyone to refer to it as such, even though many stalls tend to proclaim "Economy rice" on their signboards.

Other names for economy rice include jaahp faahn (Chinese: 雜飯; pinyin: zá fàn; lit. 'mixed rice') in Cantonese or tsa̍p-tshài-pn̄g (Chinese: 雜菜飯; pinyin: zá cài fàn; lit. 'mixed dishes (with) rice') in Hokkien and, colloquially, "point-point rice", named for the method of ordering one's meal which involves simply asking for a plate of rice and then pointing at the various dishes desired, due to most people not knowing the Chinese names of the dishes.

Similar cultures in other places


Hong Kong


In Hong Kong, there is a kind of similar dish known as "two-dish rice" (Chinese: 兩餸飯; Jyutping: loeng5 sung3 faan6), and its name may vary with the number of dishes included in a set. Some people also humorously call this kind of dish as “this this rice”, referring to way to order. Due to its low price, "two-dish rice" has gained increasing popularity, particularly among the grassroot citizens of Hong Kong during the economic recession brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.[4] Before the pandemic, this kind of dish has also been already popular in university and staff canteens.






  1. ^ Cheng, Selina. "'Rice with 2 sides:' How Covid-19 dine-in bans helped a Hong Kong working class staple gain popularity, online and offline - Hong Kong Free Press HKFP". hongkongfp.com. Retrieved 2023-03-26.
  2. ^ "Chinese economy rice – Food, travel, recipe & sights".
  3. ^ Tham, William. "Economy Rice Stalls – A digest of Malaysian struggles". Penang Monthly. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  4. ^ Wang, Vivian; Dong, Joy (2 May 2022). "In Epicurean Hong Kong, a Humble $4 Lunchbox Is Now All the Rage". The New York Times.