Update, September 3, 2021: After spending some time in the spotlight earlier this year, Hawker Chan, known for having the cheapest Michelin-starred meal in the entire world, has lost its Michelin star. CNN reports that when the Singaporean edition of its Michelin guide published on September 1, Hawker Chan was not listed.
After his food stall was originally awarded the star, founder Chan Hong Meng went on to expand to multiple locations across several other countries. The expansion very well could have taken a toll on the quality of the chain’s food; CNN says that some customers were disappointed in their orders as Hawker Chan got bigger.
KF Seetoh, a local Singaporean food expert featured on Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, agrees with the change. He told CNN, “I think Michelin has correctly stuck to their guns and protected the dignity of the stars.”
Whether or not you agree with the Michelin star system, it has a palpable effect on a business, sometimes changing the course of a restaurant’s success overnight. But its judging criteria is known to be a mystery, so we may never know why Hawker Chan lost its star.
Original post, March 3, 2021: I don’t know about you, but as soon as I hear the term “Michelin-starred” I involuntarily feel my wallet shrivel up and hide away. Keep that Stay Puff-lookin’ troublemaker away from me. I can’t afford to be near him. The Michelin Man’s name is Bibendum, by the way. If I have to know, you do too.
Not all Michelin-starred meals have to cost you a month’s rent, however, and the world’s cheapest can be found in Singapore. It’s a humble dish of chicken and rice, and you can get it at a hawker stall called Hawker Chan’s in Singapore’s Chinatown neighborhood. Insider went for a visit and documented the experience, and now all I want is to be able to hop onto an airplane and run around Singapore eating anything that isn’t nailed down to the floor.
Chan Hong Meng opened up his stall, Liao Fan Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle, in 2009. Since then, he’s trimmed the name down to Hawker Chan and has opened up two more locations in Singapore, along with franchises in multiple counties. There’s always a line, but it moves quickly. The signature dish is soya chicken rice, and at 3 Singapore dollars (or around $2.25 American), it sounds like a steal. That’s even cheaper than a fast food value meal.
The chicken is marinated and braised with soy sauce and 10 different herbs, then served with sauteéd soybeans. But how is it?
According to the writer of the article,
The chicken was impossibly tender, and the sauce had a rich, balanced flavor. It was a perfect portion size for a filling yet not too heavy lunch.
Sounds good to me. Pair that with eating this outside during the middle of a sunny day, and you’ve got my ideal lunch. Cheap, al-fresco, and quick. Who wants to meet me at the hawker stalls for lunch today?