Touted as the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal, Chan Hon Meng’s soya sauce chicken with noodles or rice costs just $1.50
Demand for the $1.50 plate of braised chicken and rice skyrocketed since award
What began as a humble stall in the heart of Singapore’s Chinatown, Chan Hon Meng’s soy sauce chicken business has skyrocketed since he received his highly coveted Michelin star from the world’s most prestigious food guide last year. Now, says the chef, he has set his sights on opening outlets in every country in the world, and wants to be Asia’s answer to fast food giant KFC.
Hawker Chan – the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal is already expanding
Hawker Chan is the spin-off of chef Chan Hon Meng’s humble Hong Kong-style soy chicken and rice stall which shot to stardom last year for being the only "hawker cart"(street vendor) to win a coveted star in Michelin’s Singapore guide.
As is quickly becoming a pattern, the growth specialists at Hersing Culinary swooped as soon as the accolade was announced, partnering with Meng and beginning a march across the globe.
An 80-seater restaurant was quickly opened near the original cart in Chinatown, followed by branches in Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia. A 100 seat outlet opened in Melbourne, Australia, last month.
Key dishes at all branches are Chan’s trademark crispy-skinned soy chicken as well as plates of char siu (barbecued pork), cleaved to order and served with rice or noodles.
“I have not raised prices for the last 10 years,” — Chan Hon Meng
“Before Michelin, my business was already flourishing,” said Chan in Mandarin, his native tongue, in an interview for The National. “I really wanted to partner with someone to open a few more stalls … [but] no one wanted to start a business with me."
The tables turned after the Michelin award. More than 10 people approached Chan for partnership deals but he picked Hersing Culinary – a brand management firm that owns several other Michelin-starred franchises. The company promised to expand his business beyond Singapore.
Today, there are five branches of Liao Fan Hawker Chan eateries – three in Singapore, one in Taiwan and another in Thailand. The Philippines and Indonesia are due to open new Hawker Chan eateries in the next two months. “It was a dream that was impossible to fulfil before,” he said.
But Chan is not about to stop dreaming. “I want to become the second KFC one day, to bring my soya sauce chicken to every part of the world,” he said.
He would also consider setting up shop in the Middle East “if someone there is willing to partner with us”.
Touted as the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal, Chan’s soya sauce chicken noodle or rice costs only 2 Singapore dollars – cheap even by local hawker standards. “I have not raised prices for the last 10 years,” he said proudly, while admitting the new branches charge twice the amount due to higher rents.
Singaporean Gene Lim, 63, has been a regular customer for the last six months. “As long as there’s a long queue, the food must be good,” he laughed. He said Chan’s soya sauce chicken is tender and unique. “Not everyone can do it in such a way.”
Another customer, who called himself Lim, comes regularly from Malaysia and usually buys four to five whole chickens for his family in Kuala Lumpur. He has queued for up to two hours before but says “it’s worth the wait”.
Check out Chan’s journey below.
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