Nervous South Korean man orders 'cai fan' for first time, here's how he prepared for it

Nervous South Korean man orders 'cai fan' for first time, here's how he prepared for it
Song documented her Korean boyfriend's experience buying 'cai fan' for the first time.
PHOTO: TikTok/feliciasonggg

With the wide array of colourful dishes to choose from, ordering 'cai fan' can be complicated and overwhelming, and even more so when you are a foreigner. 

To prepare himself for the unfamiliar task, this Korean man decided to write down the steps of ordering 'cai fan' to practice beforehand. 

His endeavour was documented in a TikTok video posted by his Singaporean girlfriend, Felicia Song, on Saturday (Sept 16). 

In the video, Song's boyfriend can be seen studying his notebook while walking to a coffee shop in Bukit Panjang, passionately calling out phrases such as 'cai' (vegetable in Mandarin) and 'bu yao' (I don't want in Mandarin). 

When they finally reached the store, he let out a flustered laugh, exclaiming: "I'm nervous!" 

Sparing a quick glance at his notebook when it was his turn to order, he confidently said: "Fan (rice in Mandarin) dabao."  

In true Singaporean fashion of 'this and that' while pointing at dishes at the stall, he listed his order in Mandarin as well: "Zhe ge rou (this meat), na ge cai (that vegetable)." 

While checking his notebook for the next step, Song then prompted him to choose a gravy. 

"Curry!" He firmly declared. 

Overcome with excitement after completing his order, he heaved a sigh of relief, breaking into a happy dance.

Looking at his 'cai fan' order of two meat and one veg, he jokingly commented: "Actually, I don't know what I ordered?"

Nevertheless, he dug into his meal, affirming that it is "delicious" in Korean. 


Song shared with AsiaOne that it is her boyfriend's second time in Singapore and he has been here for a few weeks already.

Wanting her boyfriend to experience more of Singapore's culture, she suggested that he should try his hand at ordering 'cai fan' "like how Singaporeans do". 

"Even though he could order in English, it was an interesting challenge to try ordering in Mandarin like how most of us do," Song elaborated. 

As ordering 'cai fan' can be a rushed and complicated affair, her boyfriend wanted to prepare himself beforehand "and thought it'll be best to write it down on his notebook just in case he forgets", she added. 

After Song had briefly explained the process of ordering cai fan to him, he had also "practised a few times" before the couple went out to buy lunch. 

She said he eventually paid $5.40 for his 'cai fan'. 

During her boyfriend's previous visit to Singapore in February, his first coffee order of kopi-o peng from a coffee shop was similarly recorded in a TikTok video by Song. 

"So proud of being able to order coffee in Singlish, the first real-world practice after simulation at home," she wrote about their experience then. 

As stressful as taking an exam?

Back in 2021, local artists Benjamin Kheng and Annette Lee wrote The 'Cai Fan' Song, a Mandopop love song dedicated to fellow 'cai fan' lovers.

The lyrics soulfully describe the nerve-wrecking experience of ordering 'cai fan': "Because before I can even decide, you already ask me what I want. All I can say is... this and that, this and that, this and that. My heart doesn't know what to eat... this and that."

Another line also mentioned how ordering 'cai fan' can be as stressful as taking an exam.

Their emotional delivery of the 'cai fan' song evidently impressed netizens, racking up a combined total of 417,000 views on TikTok across both their accounts in two days.

ALSO READ: 'This looks filthy in the best way': Korean YouTuber Doobydobap gives hawker centre food tour and tips, netizens impressed

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