Dining

Hong Kong Soya Chicken and Rice Is Worth a Trip Around the World

The signature dish from Singapore's Michelin-starred food stall is even better than you think
Soya Sauce Chicken Michelin
Photo: Jess Lindsay, Time Out Sydney

When Michelin awards a star to a street food stall for the first time everHong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle in Singapore—we pay attention. When Chan Hon Meng, the man behind the magic, travels around the world to cook for a three-night pop-up, we follow.

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Hawker Chan, as he's informally known, has been cooking in NYC as part of a three-night dinner series called Tiger Streats, put on by Tiger Beer. His partner in the kitchen is Christopher Kostow of Napa Valley's three-Michelin-starred The Restaurant at Meadowood. Kostow is serving an appetizer of whelk lasagna agretti, Hawker Chan is serving the chicken that put him on the map and the two are collaborating on a dessert of coconut pudding with tang yuan and red bean. The purpose of the dinner series, which started December 7, is to pair fine dining with street food.

As the man behind the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant puts it, "We are showing diners that street food can share a spot at the table with fine dining fare."

At a seating late last night, the room at Indochine was energetic with the quiet, communal excitement that happens when you know you're in for something really special. The volume picked up when diners applauded Hawker Chan as he came out of the kitchen to say hello, followed by a gracious Kostow. After dessert, no one wanted to leave. Tables kept pouring themselves mugs of beer, and the party lingered. Everyone knew the meal could never be replicated.

When we asked Chan how he felt about his Michelin star, he answered, "I did not even think it was conceivable that Michelin would come to my humble hawker stall to taste my meal. I am very honored and was surprised when I learned that I was awarded one Michelin star."   

He may have been surprised, but his signature dish speaks for itself. The lacquered chicken comes with cucumbers, a bowl of his special sauce and a steaming bowl of rice—that's it. It's so satisfying, it requires nothing else to merit the hours-long line that forms at the food stall in Singapore.

"I believe the honor will allow even more people to taste my food, which has always been my goal," he said of his recent recognition. "So many aspects of the world today try to keep us apart, and I value how street food brings people together from all walks of life."

Tonight is the pop-up's last night, and if you can't score a table, there's a street stall calling your name in Singapore.

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