Does a meal at a Michelin star restaurant sound good to you? Too expensive you say? If you go to Singapore you'll have a change of heart. There, two ‘street food’ restaurants received Michelin stars, most notably the Chan Hon Meng ‘food stall.’
Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle
In Singapore, most of the restaurants are in ‘food courts’, large open areas surrounded by food stalls. Singapore has the particularity of having a mix of people and this is reflected in the stands installed throughout the city. All the cuisines of Asia can be found there, Indian, Malay, Chinese, Thai, etc. Among these stands is Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle. It is run by Chef Chan Hon Meng, an energetic and restrained 60-year-old Malay. He works 17 hours a day preparing his dishes. His specialty is soy-lacquered chicken. Early in the morning, he prepares his soy sauce, enriched with spices, and he cooks no less than 200 chickens a day to satisfy the long queue that gather at lunch in front of his stand. The prices are ridiculous as well, the various dishes are sold for less than £2.
In 2016, when he was contacted by the Michelin institution which give out the stars, he did not understand much. He thought that stars were reserved for more traditional restaurants. He quickly realised however, that he was being awarded a distinction. He received a Michelin star, thereby becoming the first, and by far the cheapest, street stand to receive this distinction. This reward has only increased the reputation of the Malaysian chef, thus lengthening his queues even more. Customers sometimes wait up to 2 hours for the stall to open. Since then, this ‘little' Malay has become a rock star. But no sunglasses and interviews for People magazine for him because he has chickens to prepare. His customers are waiting…