Singapore’s food scene has perhaps been best known for its abundance of delicious cheap eats. A chicken rice at many hawker centres could cost as little as SGD2.5 (just over USD2 or less than HKD15). Despite its almost inconceivably cheap prices and simplicity of food, Hawker Chan has even earned itself a Michelin star.
With the inevitable hype around what may be the cheapest Michelin star ‘restaurant’, I wasn’t surprised to hear all the mixed reviews: “don’t bother, it’s so overhyped” versus “it’s the best chicken rice!!!” I had to check it out for myself.
There are two different outlets
Hawker Chan was initially just a stall in the Chinatown Complex Food Centre – go up to the second floor and when you’ve located the long queue, you’ve probably found Hawker Chan.
Since earning its Michelin star, they opened another outlet across the street. It’s a little more pricy, due to the improved seating arrangement and environment. We decided to go old-school and visit the original stall.
35 min wait on a Monday morning
We expected a queue. In attempt to beat the crowd, we arrived at 10:50am on a Monday morning. I wasn’t too surprised to see a mini line of around 15-18 people already formed. However, given the quick nature of hawker stall food, especially something as modular as chicken/roast meat rice/noodles, I was expecting the line to move quickly. It moved frustratingly slowly and we ended up waiting for 35 mins.
Soya Chicken with Noodles *must order*
To be clear, Hawker Chan serves Hong Kong-style soya chicken and roast meats, and not the local Singaporean “chicken rice”. A local friend had specifically emphasised this point to me, paring my expectations a little (I’m from Hong Kong). Nonetheless, I was excited to see how Singapore would’ve adapted a typical Hong Kong dish.
We tried almost everything that was on their menu and agreed that their signature soya chicken was the best thing on offer. The chicken was good quality and pretty juicy too. We specifically asked for the chicken leg, which requires an extra SGD2. I’d also recommend getting the noodles instead of the rice – they had a pleasant chewy al dente texture. You don’t often get noodles mixed with these types of sauces in Hong Kong, so I enjoyed that localisation tweak.
Char Siew Rice
As our dishes were prepared, I was most excited for the char siew rice. The BBQ pork looked so perfect in terms of fat and meat ratio. The colours of the char also looked good, but didn’t have the odd caramelised edges I was hoping for. The char siew tasted good, but also wasn’t anything special or outstanding.
Roast Pork with Ho Fun Noodles
I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the roast pork. It had a good crispy skin and the meat was succulent. But for the sake of being critical, it’s not hard to find this quality in Hong Kong. The ho fun noodles were only OK – definitely go for the fine egg noodles instead.
At such low prices, it’s almost impossible to argue against the claim that it is excellent value for money. The food was good, but not as extraordinary as the hype of gaining a One Michelin Star has curated for it.
The verdict: If you’re a curious foodie, temper your expectations a little, go and give it a try. But if you’re visiting from Hong Kong, then you’re better off trying a whole lot of other actually-extraordinary stuff Singapore has to offer!
Smith Street #02-126
Chinatown Food Complex
Spend per person: SGD2.5-5