A Singapore Food Stall that Serves $1.50 Noodles Just Earned a Michelin Star
The noodles at HK Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle are only $1.50, but there's often a two-hour wait.
The world of Michelin fine dining is a grand one—if you can afford it. Unfortunately the $325 per head it will cost you to go start to finish (drinks and foie excluded, of course) at three-star Per Se is a little steep for some, and even at the one-star-level prices are generally well north of 100 bones per head by the time you're through.
But if you want a taste of Michelin prestige without emptying your wallet, there's hope. You can now score Michelin-approved fare for less than the price of a bagel with cream cheese. You'll just have to fly to Singapore to get it, and you'll be eating standing around a food truck instead of seated in finely upholstered chairs.
The Hong Kong-style soy sauce chicken noodles being served up at the aptly named HK Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle—priced at the equivalent of about US $1.50—just became the first street food to earn the Michelin seal of approval. Chef Chan Hon Meng has been cooking his house specialty for 35 years, and Michelin honors weren't exactly on his mind when the Michelin man called.
"When I received the invitation, I was uncertain. I asked them, 'Are you joking? Why would Michelin come to my stall?'" he asked. "Can even a hawker be nominated?"
You bet it, Chan, and HK Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle is now in the inaugural Michelin Singapore guide. Michelin even sent along a camera crew to film Chan at the award ceremony, and in the touching video, Chan says that he hopes the Michelin recognition will bring more attention to Singapore's culinary offerings as well as its street food scene, which Chan says he is honored to represent.
While chowing down on a plate of HK Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle's special might seem a world away from sitting in Paul Bocuse's legendary hall of gastronomy, Chan's food has more than just a Michelin star in common with the heavy hitters of the fine dining world. If you want to eat there, you're going to have to wait. Lines form before the stall opens at 5:30 AM and the wait can be up to two hours at lunchtime.
Chan also had some advice for all chefs, whether they're flash-frying in a food truck or adjusting microgreens with tweezers. "I hope that every chef will put in their best effort as if he [the Michelin inspector] were tasting your food at every moment," he said. After the award ceremony, he was at his stall the next morning when to open up at 5:30.
HK Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle joins a growing number of more affordable restaurants in the Michelin ranks. Recently, a Tokyo ramen restaurant earned the honor, and a Michelin-starred Hong Kong restaurant, Tim Ho Wan, offers dim sum for under a buck. And soon you won't have to fly around the world to get some Michelin food on the cheap—Tim Ho Wan is opening a New York outpost.
Maybe HK Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle can open an NYC stall, too—we're looking at you and your perpetually delayed Singapore-style hawker center, Bourdain.