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A man was so turned off by his hefty bill from a mala xiangguo stall at a food court that he has vowed never to return.
Chen Weijian, a 35-year-old salesman, visited the Xiao Man Niu Mala Pot stall at Food Republic in City Square Mall and was shocked to be charged $26 for his meal.
He shared a photo of his receipt with Shin Min Daily News, showing how he had ordered seven types of ingredients: Luncheon meat, fish cake, prawn, sausage, cauliflower, spinach and instant noodles.
Chen said he has had similar mala xiangguo with the same dishes and portions at other coffee shops and hawker centres in Jurong East and Boon Lay, but paid just over $10 at most.
Hence, he did not understand why his meal at the food court was so pricey.
Chen said he questioned the stall's staff but was told that "mala xiangguo is usually this expensive".
When Shin Min visited the stall, an employee said that they have been operating in the mall for over a year and no customer has ever complained about their prices for being unreasonable.
The employee clarified that Chen had ordered higher-end ingredients such as cheese sausages, which are priced at $1 each.
He also explained that the cost of ingredients have risen along with shipping rates as some of these food products are imported.
However, Chen said: "This pricing is too expensive. I find it very unreasonable and will not patronise the stall again."
Diners are charged according to the weight of ingredients and can choose other items if they are not satisfied with the price, added the employee.
The stall also has a minimum order of $10. If customers do not wish to select their own ingredients or find this expensive, they may opt for the Mala Fragrant Pot Set.
The set meal for one person costs $6.80, while the two-pax meal will set you back by $16.80.