Liao Fan’s Hong Kong Soya Chicken Rice & Noodles has been on my list since October 2016. In 2016, the humble Hawker Chan Singapore located in Chinatown Food Complex was awarded his first Michelin Star. It is not a fancy diner or a French restaurant, rather, a hawker stall. Since then, this stall has the distinction of serving the cheapest Michelin-star meal in the world. The Soya Sauce Chicken and Rice only cost 2 SGD or 1.5 USD. That is a mere 100 rupees.
Before the 2016 Michelin Awards, I had never even heard of Soya Sauce chicken. Singapore was always about foods of the world for us. So, on our last trip to Singapore, we decided to taste the (now) famous Liao Fan Hawker Chan’s stall and find out for ourselves what the food is all about. I’d heard that the queues are massive, and ever since this place got its new-found fame, waiting times could be close to an hour. For that reason, I had given this place a miss during my last few trips. This time around we visited Chinatown on a weekend afternoon for lunch and arrived at the Chinatown Food Complex at about 1:30 PM.
Chinatown Food Complex is the largest hawker centre in Singapore that houses over 260 local food stalls. While wading through the crowd towards stall number 126, I noticed that the stalls here served a whole range of local delicacies such as Chilli Crabs, Hokkien Mee, Barbeque Stingray, Dimsums, Frog Porridge, Carrot cake, at half the prices as compared to the Newton Hawker Center; another popular open-air hawker center in Singapore.
It wasn’t very difficult to spot Hawker Chan. We spotted about fifteen people queued up. While Ajay and our other friends looked around at what other stalls had to offer, I joined the queue.
The queue moved at a reasonable speed. Although when my turn to order came after twenty minutes, the lady managing the queue announced that they only had one helping of Soya Sauce Chicken left. While the place is open until 7 p.m., they sell out much earlier. They were sold out for that Saturday at 02:30 p.m., and I got lucky to be the last customer they served.
We took all the Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken, a plate of Chicken and noodles and some greens to go on the side. We watched Hawker Chan prepare the meals himself. The Soya Sauce chicken was glistening and succulent.
The chicken with noodles was delicious and the greens added just the crunch and texture to the meal. It took us 20 minutes to get our lunch and less than 15 minutes to polish it off. Meal for two was just 12.5 SGD. That is 10 $ or 600 Indian rupees.
On my way out, I noticed another new outlet on Smith Street just opposite to the Chinatown Food Complex. I later learnt that after winning the Michelin star, Chan opened the 80-seater air-conditioned restaurant, and since then many more outlets have started mushrooming all over.
Chan had tried to franchise his restaurants earlier, and there were no takers. Now, he has decided he won’t franchise them and just open as many as he can manage. Sweet Revenge!
We quickly popped inside to take a look. This outlet has more dishes and the pricing continued to stay humble. The 2.5 SGD Soya Sauce Chicken and noodles in the stall were priced at 3.8 SGD here.
Overall, it was a good meal but I’m still not sure if it is the best Michelin-starred meal I’ve eaten.
Tim Ho Wan’s Barbeque Pork Buns used to be the cheapest Michelin-star dish before the Singapore hawker stall got a star, and every time I am in Asia and know of a Tim Ho Wan outlet, I make it a point to eat the pork buns there, including the flagship in Hong Kong.
While I think it was good to try the Soya Sauce chicken, I don’t miss it really, perhaps won’t be back again to eat it. But if you are planning a visit them, I’ll recommend you try the rustic Chinatown Food Complex experience at stall no. 126.
Have you eaten at Hawker Chan? What did you think of the meal there?