Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle: From hawker to global brand

Chef Chan Hon Meng captured attention worldwide when his hawker stall won a Michelin star in 2016.

One year ago, it was just a nondescript stall among the thousands of hawker stalls spread across Singapore. Today, Singaporean chef Chan Hon Meng’s Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodles is a two-time Michelin star winner with six outlets around the world, with another outlet set to open in Melbourne.

Chef Chan’s original hawker stall at 335 Smith Street was awarded one Michelin star yesterday (29 June 2017) for the second time at the Michelin guide Singapore 2017 Star Event.

The hawker – along with fellow Michelin recipient Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle – captured attention around the world as the first hawkers in the world to receive the star rating last year.

Chef Chan has been busy since receiving the star in July 2016, opening three standalone shops in Singapore and two outlets in Taipei and Bangkok under the “Hawker Chan” name within a year.

Foodies can still get their $2 Michelin meal at the original Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle at the Chinatown Market and Food Center, or choose to pay slightly more at the three Hawker Chan shops locally, which sells dishes at around $5.

Chef Chan at his original Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle hawker stall at Chinatown Market and Food Center.

The first Hawker Chan outlet opened a short distance away from the hawker stall in November 2016, just four months after Chef Chan won the star. Located at 78 Smith Street in Chinatown, the outlet is air-conditioned and can seat 80 diners. It was awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand Singapore 2017 in June this year.

The second Hawker Chan shop in Singapore was unveiled in February 2017 at 18 Tai Seng Street, a short distance away from two other Michelin-affiliated eateries Tim Ho Wan and Tsuta.

Chef Chan made his first overseas venture just two months after the Tai Seng branch opened, with the launch of a Hawker Chan shop in Taipei in April 2017. The Taipei outlet is priced similarly to the existing Hawker Chan shops in Singapore. He also opened another local shop, at 450 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh, in the same month.

He also recently opened his second overseas outlet in June 2017, just days before he was awarded the Michelin star for the second time. Located in the Terminal 21 shopping mall in Bangkok, the shop is also priced similarly to the Singapore outlets.

Chef Chan confirmed with Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore that a third overseas outlet in Melbourne is in the works. This outlet was reportedly set to be launched in October 2017 in Melbourne’s CBD, but chef Chan could not confirm when exactly the shop will open.

“I am opening a new outlet outside of Singapore, in Melbourne, because the people there have an appreciation for Singaporean food. It’s also easier to get licensing in Melbourne compared to other countries. There will be plans to open new outlets overseas in future, but we are currently still carefully considering,” Chef Chan said.

Chef Chan has kept busy since receiving the star in July 2016, opening three standalone shops in Singapore and two outlets in Taipei and Bangkok under the “Hawker Chan” name within a year.

Despite the rapid growth of the Hawker Chan brand since he received the Michelin star last year, Chef Chan insists that he is not rushing to expand.

“I think the pace is just right. By right, we can open a lot of stalls in Singapore in a year but we didn’t dare to do that because we need to find good cooks and look for a location where rent is not too expensive. We need to maintain the existing standard in all outlets, to make sure we can control the process so that there is not much changes to our offerings,” chef Chan said.

He plans to travel to Melbourne every few months to ensure that the quality of the food is not compromised.

“It’s a must [to visit the overseas outlets]. Every few months, we will visit the shops to check on the quality. The Taiwan outlet for example, we will go over to do a ‘spot check’ every couple of months to make sure that they do things right and address any problems.”

He added, “No matter what, we still need to continue to work hard to give customers our best. Even if there are long queues, we will have to continue maintaining our standard.”

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