Can you put a price tag on novelty?
You can put a price tag on delicious food. It’s been proven. A tasting menu at one of the world’s best restaurants can easily eclipse the $500 per person mark – pre tax, and astonishingly, at some establishments, you may still not even be full when the aria of fine tastes reaches its climax. Of course, that could come in handy when the final bill, sans gratuity arrives. But not in Singapore’s Hawker Stalls. Once the secret of Singapore locals, the lid quite literally blew off the chicken pot in 2016, when a random stall near downtown Singapore was awarded a coveted Michelin star. For novelty, and for nourishment, we went in search of answers. Here’s everything you may have wondered about dining at the one and only Hawker Chan Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle in Singapore…
When we think of Michelin star meals, we think fancy plating, rare ingredients and extortionately high prices, usually with a side of pretentiousness – but this restaurant really could not be more different. Hawker Chan Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle was awarded its first Michelin star in 2016 and is literally the cheapest Michelin starred meal in the entire world. You’ll find the original hawker stall on Smith Street in Chinatown, upstairs muddled within the sea of other stalls; but since popularity hit the roof, there’s also a sit down, slightly more touristy, version on the ground floor.
Wait Times: Before you go, you should be aware that you’ll probably have to wait in a queue. Queues for Hawker Chan range from 15 minutes to well over an hour, depending on what time you go and what luck has in store. The restaurant is an extremely popular place for lunch, so try and hit it early around 11am or after the main rush circa 2 o’clock. But be warned – when Hawker Chan runs out of chicken and pork, they’re truly out. We arrived around 2pm and after a 22 minute wait, we were amongst the very last to be served, despite a long, eager line. Eager patrons behind us were turned away. If this happens to you, head to the sit down restaurant below, or just look for the stall with the next longest line, and you’ll still be in for a treat.
Hawker Chan Prices: Most dishes at Hawker Chan in Singapore range from a wapping S$2-S$3, with the famous star winning Soya Sauce Chicken Rice just S$2. The only dish out of this range is if you want the whole chicken, which is S$14, or S$7 for the half. For reference, S$3.00 is about $2.20USD or £1.79. Food at the sit down, tourist oriented spin off in the air conditioned location downstairs are more expensive.
Even though people will tell you that you can find equally great dishes without the wait, the food really was delicious! The chicken itself was extremely moist and tender with truly excellent, bold soy flavors running throughout the dish. The additional accoutrements, such as the deep, dark sweet soy are absolutely divine and unlike many most travelers will have experienced. There are nine dishes to choose from, and you’ve definitely gotta try the Soya Sauce Chicken Rice or Soya Sauce Chicken Noodle as they are the classics, but the Char Siu pork and vegetable dishes are equally tasty – and for those prices, why not try them all?!
There’s something quite charming about eating Michelin Star food off a polystyrene plate, in a non air conditioned, above ground area which makes a college dining hall look refined, especially in a city known for extreme luxury. The food is genuinely outstanding, the price is absolutely right and you just can’t put a price on amusement! Well, you can, but at S$2, not many people ill mind. If you’re in Singapore, this meal is definitely worth it at least once, and once you’ve knocked the Michelin starred version off, hitting all the other fantastic hawkers is the next step. It’s cheap, it’s fun, it’s delicious. Just do it.