His name is Chan Hon Meng and from 2009 is the chef and owner of the two kiosks “Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle” and “Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle” in Chinatown district in Singapore. Apparently, it’s a street food business like many others, selling tons of rice and noodles in the swarm of one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
Not according to Michelin’s guide, since last year these two kiosks were awarded with a Michelin’s star, which is such a prestigious price that Chan himself could not believe it at first.
But what are the dishes that became legend for local clients? In the first of the two-abovementioned kiosks, a generous portion of noodle with pork meat and a vinegar sauce that has a unique and inimitable taste; in the second kiosk, rise with lacquered chicken seasoned with soy sauce. Prices are absolutely affordable, from 3-4 dollars a portion.
What makes these dishes so special and worthy of such a long waiting line just to taste them? According to Michelin’s Guide: “quality of the products, balance of flavors and coherence in the served meals.” Sergio Lovorinovich (director of Michelin’s Guide for Italy), technically speaking, adds that it was the “absolute performance of the dish” that made a difference.
Whatever are the reasons that brought street food to the stars, there is no doubt that this award is the recognition to the growing importance that street food and eating in the streets is gaining all around the world.
There is also no doubt that this award wanted to reward a city where street food dominates everyday life of each of its citizens. Michael Ellis (director of Michelin’s Guide) explains: “The city is recognized all over the world for its street food and its high level gastronomic scene animated by young and talented chefs that became popular in the last years”.
And here we touch on another interesting aspect that gives an indication of the success of street food: there are always more big chefs that set foot in street food business contributing to elevate its quality and popular perception.
It’s a long way from when fast food was considered a barely acceptable alternative with no money or no time to eat a proper meal.
Gourmet dishes that you could eat exclusively in classic and expensive restaurants, now can be found literally on the streets: kiosks, food trucks and mobile stalls, thanks to good quality ingredients, used in the right way, original and balanced, can propose a wide offer that got nothing on traditional restaurants.
Chan’s success comes primarily from the genuine raw ingredients he uses that brought him up to the most coveted award in the food sector.
We will see if in the next years other will follow. One thing is for sure, street food will continue to grow and, with it, all operators in this sector that will focus on quality and innovation.
Now you just need to book a flight and try Chan’s starred dishes.
Here you have the addresses where to find them:
- Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle > Crawford Ln., 466 #01-12. (Singapore)
- Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle > Smith St., 335 #02-127. Chinatown Complex (Singapore)