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We often associate Michelin-starred restaurants with glitz and glam, class and cash, the types of places you wouldn’t be able to get into unless you had been on the waitlist for three years and also had a personal friendship with both the owner and the chef. But a small food cart in Singapore is changing our notion of what it means to hold a Michelin star. Selling his Michelin-rated meal for under two bucks, chef Chan Hon Meng is giving everyone the chance to eat well.
Meng’s specialty is his Soya Sauce Chicken, a whole chicken braised with garlic, ginger and a variety of spices (including Meng’s very own secret spice), then served with rice or noodles. Inspired by a visitor from Hong Kong who brought the idea of braising chicken to Singapore, Meng opened his food cart back in 2009 and has been serving up Soya Sauce Chicken ever since. In 2016, Meng was awarded a Michelin star for his Soya Sauce Chicken, an achievement he was both honored and surprised by. This is the first of only two street food locations to ever receive a Michelin star.
Meng didn’t let his newfound glory go to his head though; although the acclaim brought a good number of new customers to his stall, Meng made the decision to keep the price of his famous Soya Sauce Chicken the same. After all, he felt the honor was given due to his customers, and they deserved to continue to enjoy his chicken as they had before. The whole operation is still run by just Meng and two assistants, who help serve hundreds of customers a day in one of the busiest food stall locations in Singapore.
Meng now serves upwards of 100 Soya Sauce Chickens a day and says the Michelin honor definitely brought many new customers to his stall. People can sometimes expect to wait up to two hours just to try some of his famous chicken. He’d like in the future to share his creation with the rest of the world—hopefully, still, for just $1.50.
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