HUNTING HAWKERS: Michelin Starred Street-foods Singapore 2016, Short cuts, Side trips

You want to spend shorter time queueing to explore nearby attractions after an unforgettable chowing down of Michelin starred street meal? Hunt!

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.

READ :REAL GUIDE to the 2016 MICHELIN StreetFood Outlets Hong Kong, PHOTOBLOG

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

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The wallet friendliest Michelin Meal to date, 2SGD Chicken Rice plus 2.50SGD Chicken Noodle. All at 160 PhP!

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

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Minced meat noodle at 6SGD serving. You’ll never know how those dried fish and pork liver blends the soury spicy nature of the noodle sauce. 5, 8 and 10SGD serving choices are also available.

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).


SHORTEST ROUTES

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MEANDERING and TRANSCULTURAL. There are at least 8 more people from my back. Then the line changes angle with those westerners. Then from that lad with the yellow shirt, the line tails until the left wing of the Chinatown Complex which is joint to a commercial space – residential building. It pays to know short cuts!

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.

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Chinatown Station for Liao Fan. Lavender Station for Tai Hwa. Exit on Exit A for both. Fares vary from your starting point. Borrowed a reloadable card from uncle so I just loaded it with 30SGD for my whole 5days trip. Still has around 7SGD when I left. One way tickets are available in the stations though. Chinatown. Lavender. Exit A.

📍 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.

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Corner signage points the Chinatown Complex!

3. Straight until you’ll reach the left side of the Chinatown Complex – the cradle of Liao Fan 😂!

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The facade. Facing it, proceed to left.

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.

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Take the stairs below this overpass.

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.

OR

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This will also be your landmark when you want to do a side trip to Arab Street and Hadji Lane. Famous for hipster vibes with neighborhoods of quirky streel murals and quaint coffee shops and boutiques. Remember Asia’s Next Top Model.

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!

Let's eat?!

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!



SIDE TRIPS:

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.

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Affordable souvenirs, heritage-themed snaps along Pagoda Street!

AFTER TAI HWA

☝🏼️ Stroll through Victoria Street, Haji Lane and Arab Street.

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Mural along Victoria Street. This child is Gigantic. Sneak so you wont awaken that wild cat! lol

SIGNS TO SPOT a Michelin Hong Kong Street Food Outlet

12765607_10208778844136352_351008123_oBeing a tourist in a destination which most of the establishment signs are in Mandarin or Cantonese characters, hunting your subjects turns to be more exciting. When we had the rove around the recently Michelin cited 23 Hong Kong street food outlets, we had noticed the following helpful ocular traits to notice in order to validate your quest and chow down exactly in one of the street food outlets recognized by Michelin as deserving to be in their Guide for the FIRST EVER Street Food Section.

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Not all of the 23 outlets have this Michelin seal sticker yet, January 23-25, 2016

 

Note that when you vaguely understand the direction of your Google map and you are not able to see the Michelin seal sticker in the facade, these five could help you as confirmatory spots.

1: THE QUEUE

It goes with the recognition of these outlets that they are serving really good food. Thus, patrons do not care how long they will be waiting just to indulge in the quality of food to be served to them. Locals are enjoying the queue, day and night. We have never seen anyone irritated nor annoyed while waiting for their turn. It seems like everyone understands that they have to wait just to taste the food. When I asked a young professional next to me, he said that falling in line, no matter how long would that be is already part of the culture when you want to immerse yourself in Hong Kong street food scene. Most of these stalls open by 12 noon and close at 9pm.

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(LEFT) 7:03PM, Locals who have just logged out from work fall in line for the EGG WAFFLES of LEI KEUNG KEE in North Point. (RIGHT) 10:43AM, Locals from blocks near market in Sham Shui Po queue for HOP YIK TAI’S RICE ROLLS. Yes that’s me falling in line for the second time while chowing down our first plate. The sauce is really magical. It’s like a more watery mixture of peanut butter and soy sauce. I chose a chilli version for our second serving and that made our lips really hot red.

2: THE FLOCK

Stores might have both the line and the flock or just either. For those who serve “take away” only or does not have enough space anymore for those who wanted to dine in, you would find an obvious flock of locals waiting for the call of their food being packed. “Take Away” is their term for take out. Just like seeing the locals patiently waiting in the queue, this scene would really make you rationalize that these stores really are worth listing in the Michelin since their food are really being patronized compared to other street food stalls on the same block or others who offer the same menu. That simply means they are serving distinctly delectable food.

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(LEFT) Young professionals and students from nearby schools in Kowloon City, waiting for their “take away” SATAY-NASI GORING meals in LAN YING.(RIGHT) Ppy smirks with impatience while Hong Konger ladies flock in front of KEI TSUI for their CANTONESE PUDDINGS. She’s just waiting for her turn for a 12HKD-WALNUT COOKIE.

3: POSTERS

As their signage is written with a non-English font, reaching these stores is not really that easy. What they post though on their walls would help you validate your quest. Aside from locals, HK celebrities have also invested their time to taste how sumptuous these recognized street foods are. Actually, these personalities have long appreciated these foods way before Michelin did their list this 2016. Printed articles from blog features are also being posted. In fact, we have confirmed that we have arrived at Soupreme, in Tai Ko Tsui when we stopped awhile and read some of the articles in their glass wall.

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(LEFT) Among the 23 outlets, DOGGIE’S NOODLE in Jordan which is famous for their FRIED PORK FAT NOODLES, has the most number of arrayed celebrity pictures that stretch from their order counter to the walls of the dining area.(RIGHT) Those printed blog features are indeed helpful tools to identify SOUPREME in Tai Kok Tsui since obviously in the photo, their store streamer is even slightly detached. The relieving feeling of sipping their signature CANTONESE DOUBLE BOILED SOUP compensates the hard to hunt journey though. Really worth the searching, especially when you eat it with their drunken eggs in a wintry breeze.

4: DINING TRAFFIC

For those stores which possess a part for dining, it is noticeable that the tables and chairs are always almost occupied. Locals just simply have to stand minutes after partaking their orders since others who do not choose to pack their food for take away, earnestly wait for a table to be free. If there is a third sign next to enjoying the QUEUE and patiently waiting in the FLOCK that I am really appreciative with the discipline and kindness of Hong Kongers, It would be this. They are selfless enough not to stay longer seated, seeing others who are waiting to eat. This scene may be true to all Hong Kong restaurants, but it is in these few Michelin listed stalls where you could really appreciate it more since a lot of locals really lord over it.

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(LEFT) Inside KAI KAI in Jordan which is known for their GLUTINOUS RICE DUMPLINGS IN GINGER SOUP, there’s an assigned personnel who supervises as to where a just arrived guest shall seat. (RIGHT) Just in front of Kai Kai is DOGGIE’S NOODLE, though has a more street stall appeal as chars and tables are just assembled almost occupying the side walk, the influx of customers are equally overwhelming.

5: RED

When we finished the collage of the facade photos of all the Michelin street food stalls, this was a common characteristic we have noticed, their business names are all in RED font. To be precise, 16 out of the 23 outlets have Red or shades of red colors in their signage. Especially those stores which have been really existing for significantly long years, their streamers are as simple as red letters in white background.

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(LEFT) KUNG WO TOFU in Sham Shui Po is so identifiable despite of the street market tents in front because of the bold red-white combination of its streamer. Their PAN-FRIED TOFU SNACKS opened my appetite to start eating tofu not just because it’s healthy. Yes, because their recipe just made tofu taste not tofu. (RIGHT) The back lighted red-yellow design of CHIN SIK in Tsuen Wan is very effective in catching your attention strategically so it wont be out shined by other signage nearby as it is found just beside a big shopping center. CART NOODLES here are perfect for a colder breeze being in New Territories. Try it with their chilli paste.

The palate memories from the foods served from these recognized street food outlets would definitely pull you to visit this gifted island state again. However, that particular behavior you have acquired of searching for a food house that thoroughly stretches your senses and that rewarding emotion of finally arriving and eat an internationally acclaimed meal? That made this wander indelible and such a unique, “checked-as-done” itinerary in our patented bucket list. You will be stuffed from head to the stomach, to the sole.

 

Trending Boracay Spots and How to Mix it with the Island’s Classic Fame

imageCelebrated as TripAdvisor’s 2015 Traveler’s Choice Awardee being the Best Beach In Asia, unarguably White Beach, Boracay Island of the Philippines has really the most severe dissociative effect to someone who would choose the beach life over the stressors of reality.

imageSince ranking of beaches was startled, Boracay had never been lowered from the first ten spots. So what keeps it on the list aside from the expected and praised powdery sand and superb sun-sinking-in-your- horizon views? I think, it is how the Island’s distinct fame are modified.

STATION 2 with the World’s Biggest Pearl

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Tagged as the station for the mid class, ironically Station 2 recently has been a cradle of a private gem. Deep inside the premise of Crown Regency Resort and Convention Center, tourists would deliberate whether or not they are really in a close encounter of the World’s biggest Pearl ever discovered in the waters of the Philippines. 8.9kgs, 8 inches diameter.

STATION 3 with the thrilling Reverse Bungee

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Admired by those who wanted to be solely intimate with the beach away from the crowd, station 3’s brand has always been for the loner beach lovers. It has been venues for pre nuptial pics and sunbathing while reading your favorite book. Recently, St3’s whispers will be chopped with electrifying screams from the reverse bungee. Imagine a giant swing but it doesn’t sway. It just bounces up and down while coaster is suspended in the air with its elastic cables.

D MALL with the quirky Breathing Statues 

imageimageBeing the only beach mall in the Philippines, D mall itself is an only-in-Boracay spot where aside from shopping and eating out, is a perfect spot for people watching and free fashion runway of beach goers on their beach town outfits. However, there are just 3 to 6 quirky clad humans whom you’ll be confused with being mannequins. They are the phenomenal photo mates found just near the entrance of Tides Hotel Boracay.

EPIC BAR with the Beach-side Bonfire Dance Floor

imageAny beach party goer would agree that thus far, Epic Bar at the junction of stations 1 and 2 is the most respected beach rave authority of the island. Well having that reputation, Epic’s dance floor is jam-packed almost nightly. With such stimulus, other party goers ignited a bonfire fronting the bar where they could still dance with the music from the bar’s mega speakers, still let drunk with the bar’s liquor, still meet the bar’s teasing inter racial guests.

PUKA BEACH with You. Yes You!

imageimageRanked as 5th Best Beach in Asia, Puka Shell Beach in the northern side of the island embraces those who wanted a break from the mainstream of the three stations. The leftmost shore have equally impressive beach views with that of the white beach, only with courser sands, without the hotels, bars and restaurants. The rightmost shore is bizarre, that facing the Carabao Is. Romblon. The waves are mildly wild crushing the colossal stone formations along the shore. Puka beach for me is the best beach in the Island. However, its glory is shaded with the popularity, accessibility and commercialization of the white beach stations. Thus, it takes you to visit there. Take more pics and upload it to your cyber profile.

THE GROTTO with the mermaid

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The stone islet existing like a mole along the shore of Station 1 has long been famous for picture taking. And So, why not dramatize your photos with you being a mermaid with the trendy mermaid suits!

This so called 24/7 island has always a lot to be marveled for. It is not just its natural morph worth to be titled as the Best. Along the coming years, it could also be appreciated that the Island’s world class features are malleable enough to adjust with what kind of spice the emerging touring populace would love to experience. Making it a tamed but still natural pandemic entry of every traveler’s bucket list. Don’t be left out with the trend. Visit Boracay. Now.