Singapore is a bastion of good food. One of Singapore’s culinary trademarks is the Hawker Stall, little stalls assembled into food courts are scattered throughout the city. They’re all family-owned and operated (and usually have been for generations). They’re focused usually on a single dish which they reiterate to perfection, they’re cheap and they’re fast.
Usually, these types of stalls are not associated with fine dining.
That all changed last month when Michelin announced the new starred restaurants in Singapore at a gala with the country’s top chefs. At that event, to everyone’s surprise, a hawker stall was awarded a Michelin Star for the first time. Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle was that stall. This officially makes it the cheapest Michelin starred eatery in the world. A plate of Chef Chan Hon Meng’s chicken rice and noodle costs $1.50.
There’s nothing extraordinary about Chef Meng’s story. His stall is virtually indistinguishable to almost every other hawker stall you’ll come across in Singapore: family run, perfect dishes, cheap and fast. Well, slower now that the lines will roll around the corner following the Michelin announcement.
This will, hopefully, also be a boost for the hawker stall world, which have faced difficulties in the past, largely due to a lack of people interested in starting up in the business, which is one of the hardest cooking jobs in the world. Michelin notes that “it’s not the venue, it’s the food we judge.” With that, perhaps more fast eateries around the world, with plastic chairs and a rickety fan on the ceiling, might gain hope that they too, one day, can obtain a Michelin star.