When Michelin announced it was going to launch its first guide to dining in Singapore, the question was how the legendary group of anonymous critics would deal with the city’s acclaimed hawker centers. For the uninitiated, a hawker center is like a mall dedicated entirely to food, where small stalls stand side by side, often specializing in a handful of dishes or even just one specialty, preparing it to perfection for dedicated customers. While it is indeed superb food, a typical stomping ground for Michelin, it’s not.
Sure enough, late last month, when the stars for Singapore were handed out, one was given to Chan Hong Meng, the chef and owner of Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle—a hawker stand. It is the first street food stand to ever receive a star from Michelin, not only in Singapore but around the world. A meal there will set you back, er, as little as $1.50.
When a rep for Michelin contacted the unsuspecting chef, who started cooking when he was 15, he asked if it was a joke. Check out this short film, which follows chef Hong Meng from that fateful phone call to the award ceremony.