Cheap, yes. Nasty? No way. Two street food stalls have just made history by being awarded Michelin stars.
As any foodie knows, the acquisition — or loss — of a Michelin star can have a dramatic impact on a restaurant’s fortunes.
29 Singapore dining establishments got a nod from the Michelin gurus in their first ever guide to the area, including the French contemporary Joël Robuchon restaurant, which scored the maximum three stars.
That’s a big deal, for sure, but the real story here is street food stalls Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, who have become the first such stalls to be awarded Michelin stars.
It’s an honour that usually goes to high-priced establishments with strict dress codes and impeccable décor, but in this case, it’s gone to ‘hawker’ stalls located in food centres with shared dining spaces and no air conditioning.
“Singapore is a real crossroads of trade and commerce, with multiple culinary influences and a repertoire that is enjoyed by both locals and visitors,” Michael Ellis, international director of the Michelin Guides, said in a statement.
“Here’s where our inspectors have discovered real jewels.”
Tang Chay Seng, the owner and chef at Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, is pleased — but a little bewildered — with the attention his stall is receiving now.
“There was a queue even before I opened my stall at 9:30am!” he told CNBC.
“I was very happy to win the award. Why did they pick me? I don’t know. I’ve heard of Michelin before but didn’t think it would have anything to do with my hawker business.”
Chan Hon Meng, the owner and chef at Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle, had a similar reaction.
“I am very excited. Never knew hawker food can go global,” he told NBC News.
“Hopefully the next generation will also pick this up.”
The signature dish at Hong Kong Soya Sauce is Chan’s chicken rice dish, which he serves roughly 150 times per day. It’ll set you back S$2.50 — that’s AU$2.46.
At those prices, it’s almost worth the cost of a plane ticket to give it a try…