CHAN HONG MENG, a cook with roots in the farm, couldn’t have dreamed that his soy sauce chicken and noodle offerings would earn him fame in the culinary world. In 2016, his Liao Fan Hawker Chan stall was granted a Michelin star in Singapore’s first Michelin Guide. Now, Hawker Chan is present in the Philippines, with its first branch opening later this week in SM Mall of Asia.
BusinessWorld, in a press preview of the dishes, sat down to taste this chicken that earned a star, and alongside it, endless lines of people that snake up to a waiting time of two hours. The chicken had a soft, vulnerable skin, all too willing to give in to the diner’s bite. The chicken’s flesh is soft, flavorful, and yielding; with a strong taste of Asia from this region’s favorite condiment, soy sauce.
Hawker Chan’s char siu, meanwhile, had a char that gave a contrast to the gooey, sweetish pork fat.
In all honesty though, there are several other chicken places out there, but for the novelty of eating a version of a Michelin-starred meal, by all means, take a number and line up. Otherwise, I’m really going for the char siu.
Hawker Chan was brought here by Foodee Global Concepts Inc., which also holds the franchises for restaurants that have Michelin stars in their own countries: there’s Tim Ho Wan, Foo’d by Davide Oldani, Tsuta Japanese Soba Noodles, and Kam’s Roast Goose.
Hawker Chan has the distinction of having the cheapest Michelin-starred meals, at only about $3. The Philippine counterpart sells its wares at about the same price, at P128-P148. “If you consider just the food, [even] a hawker can make it [in the business],” said Foodee Global CEO Rikki Dee.
He seems to be very confident about the Philippine restaurant market, considering that beginning with Tsuta, all of the outlets that Foodee has since opened were spaced out in just a few months — the taste of their recent openings still lingers on my tongue.
“The market has matured,” said Mr. Dee. “Filipinos are very up-to-date with the latest trends in the food scene. As long as you price it right, and you have good food, I think you’ll make it.” — Joseph L. Garcia