Good food can be found at any price, and the Michelin Guide, more often associated with fine dining, thinks so, too! The Michelin Guide is the oldest European hotel and reference guide and awards up to three stars for excellence to selected restaurants. In the culinary world, the acquisition (or loss) of a star can make or break restaurants and chef’s reputations.
While the Michelin guide recognizes restaurants that offer moderate prices, it only recently introduced a street food category. In 2016, the more than century-old guide awarded a star to the humble hawker stall Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle in Singapore.
Customers line up even before the stall opens to catch the Michelin-approved chicken in Hong Kong-style soya sauce, which only costs US$1.50!
Though recognized as one of the more expensive countries in the world, Singapore is also famous for delicious and inexpensive food. Out of hundreds of hawker stalls in the country, many looking so much alike, the quality of the food and word of mouth often spells the difference between the common and the sublime.
Most hawker centers will have something for everyone, but the queues will tell you which stalls are better than others.
At the Chinatown Complex Market and Food Centre, Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle stood out even before it was awarded the Michelin star! The stall is operated by Chan Hong Meng, who has been preparing the beloved and now world-famous chicken dish for more than 35 years.
Knowing precious little about the Michelin Guide, he was surprised with the recognition, thinking that Michelin stars were only awarded to what he called “high type of food.”
The queues have become even longer, with many customers lining up and taking photos and posting them on Instagram and Facebook, happy to have the chance to taste the cheapest Michelin-starred dish in the world!
The Michelin star has certainly been a boost for business, as it initially raised the number of chickens Chan Hong Meng prepared per day for guests eager for a taste of budget-friendly Michelin-level food.
Since then, the chef-owner has parlayed his well-earned fame into a quick service restaurant in partnership with Hersing Culinary. Together, they opened Liao Fan Hawker Chan a few meters away from the original stall.
Business has been so good that interested customers won’t even have to wait for a chance to fly to Singapore to try Chan Hong Meng’s food. More branches of Hawker Chan have since opened in many other countries in Asia as part of a global expansion plan. Change comes with a price though, but not by much!
Dining is more comfortable compared to muggy conditions in an open air food stall. But at Hawker Chan, clients can still enjoy excellent soya sauce chicken rice and noodles and char siu or roast pork for around US$4, stressing the restaurant’s commitment to affordability and world-class quality.
Pretty soon you might be able to enjoy Michelin-level chicken at a Hawker Chan near you!
Watch Chef Liao Fan’s amazing story below:
Photos via Liao Fan Hawker Chan Singapore