Michelin-starred is generally shorthand for “prohibitively expensive” and “endless waiting list”. Two entries in the just-launched Michelin Guide to Singapore most definitely won't break the bank … but yes, you may have to wait.
At Chan Hon Meng’s food stall at Chinatown Complex, Singapore’s largest hawker market, a queue snakes past other similar-looking shopfronts selling Hainanese chicken rice, chilli crab and pig intestines. Its name doesn’t have the ring of, say, a Noma or an El Bulli, but Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle has just proved what thousands of locals already knew: it’s serving up some of the best food in town.
The lunchtime queue forms in the morning and by afternoon snakes through the hawker market. Image via Getty
As for what’s on the menu, that needs little explanation. It’s chicken braised in soy and served over a bed of rice or noodles and it costs S$2 (AU$1.95).
When Chan, 51, was invited to the Michelin Guide Singapore Gala Dinner, he thought it was a joke. “Why would Michelin come to my stall?” he asked. His customers aren’t messing around, though. He’s now serving 180 chickens a day, 30 more than he usually gets through.
Chan Hong Meng hard at work at Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle. Image via Getty
Meanwhile, across town 70-year-old Tang Chay Seng’s Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle is also doing a brisk trade after gaining its own Michelin star. Tang serves up noodles with minced pork for about AU$4.50 a plate.
According to the Michelin Guide, the stall was first opened in the 1930s by Tang’s father. The second generation is now running the stall in the location it moved to in 2005.
Tang Chay Seng outside his Michelin-starred pork palace. Image via Getty