This year’s guide for Singapore isn’t actually the first which the North Star for restaurants appreciated an Asian Street-food for its prestigious guide. November 2015, Michelin enumerated 23 outlets for Hong Kong and 12 stalls for Macau for the first ever Street-food section of the guide in its 2016 edition.
However, these stalls don’t have stars. “We did include street foods for the first time but they don’t have stars. We include street food for the simple reason that Street food is very much a part of the Hong Kong culinary scene. Hong Kong has fantastic gastronomy everywhere but Hong Kong is a city that never stops; it never sleeps. People are out and about all the time and street food has always been a very big part of Hong Kong culture, so we thought it would make sense…” Michael Ellis, International Director for the Michelin Guide clarified to the CNBC’s Squawk Box.
What’s then actually monumental for these two Singapore based street food outlets is, this time they got the elusive STAR. Even before the Michelin inspectors rated these hawkers, their food has always been preyed by patiently queueing curve-eyed predators. Asians are such unconditional patrons. Reminiscing the struts I had in Hong Kong prepared myself that queues would always be part of the experience. What off guarded me though for Singapore’s starred hawkers is, I did not expect the length. The queue was lengthy, meandering and transcultural. The food? Here’s my take.
Liao Fan’s Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle
Two SGD for a Chicken rice is actually cheap in Singapore. Chicken rice meals like I had in mall food courts actually range 5-7SGD, without second thought I opted not to choose one between the noodle or the rice, I ingested it both!
A local couple preceded me stressed that “Aside from its taste (It wont be starred if it isn’t savory of course), Liao Fan’s portioning is actually one of the most generous inside (the complex)” which I agree. Seems like they are serving almost half part of a chicken in a meal. They bought about five plastic bags of varied meals and chopped of two whole soya sauce chicken. They could just actually eat somewhere else but like me, they also waited almost three hours — for a take out. I was even starving already when I was 5th from the one being served (bring with you some crackers and water. Not flavored drink, just water)
Cooked just right that it is still soft, juicy and easier to shread from the bones. Chicken skin is uniquely savory with the soya sauce still palatably evident as the main marinade, perfect in your spoon with the rice steamed with chicken broth. Noodle was also tendered just perfectly right to stimulate your chewing when it is already inside your mouth housepartying while the sauce flavor-jockying your tastebuds with intermittent sweet, salty and Hongkie spiciness.
Worth a take out or else you’ll queue again. Bring home a whole chicken. Drooling!
“partaking the food in a shared table with the bustles of the sidewalk as the background music, sensing how sated they are evident from how contagious to me their appetite as I observe how they eat the food, which we all spent not just minutes but hours to be served. Those just boost my satiety to a higher, subjectively distinct level. Those appraise more the value of every Asian currency I handed to the hawkers as I received my portions.”
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
The serving includes the plate with the noodles and a sauce and a separate bowl with soup. I was actually looking at the other tables how they eat it. Should I or not mix the soup with the noodle. I mixed it and it was better for my buds.
The food house is like a neighborhood (Barangay) noodle house where when you’re starving after playing with your neighbors back in your childhood, you could just sit and eat with familiar faces in the next tables. It is like a refuge noodle house when you came from a stressful workshift. Moments between chews felt like I was partaking a soup prepped by my mom when I skip from work or school because of sickness. You could feel the portions were served with thoughtfulness while you eat it. Whether you’ll consume those pieces in chunks or by bit, the whole serving is just steamy and spicy redeeming! Sharing actually the sensations I felt eating it rather than the food feature itself since being exceptionally delicious is generally a default when you got a Michelin star.
I could just chow down back here. I don’t care about another queue. I wish Tai Hwa is just stairs down from our flat (few steps from our house).
Started queueing at 10:15am. Got my turn by 12:50 and had my first chunk of the Michelin starrred chicken by 1:02pm. Not all of them actually have known about the Michelin Star earned by Liao Fan. The group of Indonesian friends next to me told “We just fell in line thinking that this stall might be serving the best meal inside the complex since it has the longest queue. We wanted some local foods after strolling around the Street Market. Something that’s memorable to our appetite from this trip.”
I repeat, It pays to know short cuts! You are all welcome for these alt routes I have known the shortest versus the Mobile Map, thus far.
📍 Way to Liao Fan:
1. Chinatown Exit A. Just go straight through Pagoda Street, a street market but don’t be tempted yet to look around and buy stuffs. Do that after!
2. Turn Right when you reach the corner resto Chinatown Seafood house with a porch.
3. Straight until you’ll reach the left side of the Chinatown Complex – the cradle of Liao Fan 😂!
4. Facing the facade, proceed to your left. Don’t use the main entrance! You’ll be lost with the maze of food stalls. Just dont!
5. When you’ll arrive late, you’ll see this when you reach the right side of the complex (your left facing the complex). Yes they are queing for Laio Fan.
6. Take the stairs below this bridge and on the next floor you’ll might already see the tail of the queue.
7. Enjoy the queue. What could you possibly do while falling in line? I’ll blogpost about that. Stay tuned.
📍 Way to Hill Street Tai Hwa
1. Lavender Station. Exit A.
2. Proceed walking left. That is a wide parking lot in Kallang Walk (Road for pedestrian). Look for the pedestrian bridge traversing Rochor River on your right. Take that bridge.
2. From Lavender station, Just go straight through Victoria Street. When you’ll reach a bridge. You’ll see this hotel. On your left, you’ll see a bridge for pedestrians which connects from the parking lot of the Immigration office to a residential space. Victoria street would be your landmark when you want the Side trip to Arab Street and Haji Lane after your chow.Take the stairs down from the bridge, and pave your way across to the pedestrian bridge.
4. Get throught the compound to reach the sidewalks of North Bridge Road. Walk throught two more residential buildings then you’ll reach Crawford lane.
5. Start queueing. Tell the person next to you (or front of you) that you’ll be back. Ask the counter first because at times they have this token system to make the queueing more organize. Ask for it when they are implementing it on that day. When I had my visit, they were just few in line so it wasn’t applied.
I’ve never been the kind who is for shopping, theme parks and adventures. Since I started traversing Asia, I have always been a foodie for endemic food stalls. It has always been a fetish to me to immerse with the locals. The sensation of being like one by queueing next to them, eavesdropping their usual small talks about life and partaking the food in a shared table with the bustles of the sidewalk as the background music, sensing how sated they are evident from how contagious to me their appetite as I observe how they eat the food, which we all spent not just minutes but hours to be served. Those just boost my satiety to a higher, subjectively distinct level. Those appraise more the value of every Asian currency I handed to the hawkers as I received my portions. The moment I have consumed all what’s inside the bowl, though I can’t really use the chopsticks well, due to lack for a better word, is an orgasm. A wander orgasm, an addictive meal-driven dissociation which I’ll always be urged to travel for, uniquely in every destination.
Michelin has its criteria of course to classify these starred carts. Their taxonomy has been the gold standard for eateries, but those triggers above which you and every other eater could experience, just make the food even more delicious than how it palatably appeals. I know their inspectors couldn’t agree with me more. Hunt!
The moment I have consumed all what’s inside the bowl (though I can’t really use the chopsticks well), due to lack for a better word, is an orgasm for me. A Wander orgasm, an addictive meal-driven dissociation which I’ll always be urged to travel for, uniquely in every destination. HUNT!
AFTER LIAO FAN
☝🏼️ Souvenir Shopping through Chinatown Heritage Center. The oldest Hindu temple in SG could also be found at the mouth of the Pagoda Street.
AFTER TAI HWA
☝🏼️ Stroll through Victoria Street, Haji Lane and Arab Street.