Last night, culinary history was made in Singapore.
Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle 香港油雞飯麵 at Chinatown Food Complex and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle 吊桥头大华猪肉粿条面 at Crawford Lane were both awarded One Michelin Star in the inaugural Singapore Michelin Guide 2016.
“It signifies that these hawkers have managed to hit the ball out of the park,” International Director of Michelin Guides, Michael Ellis said using the cliched baseball metaphor.
Credit: Public domain photo
The Michelin guide which recommended restaurants in Europe for over 100 years, now also covers America and Asia. While it's methods and recommendations are not without it's detractors, conflict of interest allegations and other controversies, there is no doubt about it's authourity and influence, especially as a tourist reference.
It took me a while for the significance of last night's awards to sink in. Here are ten reasons to celebrate the newly minted Singapore Michelin hawker stars.
1. Singapore street food made world history as the first to be awarded the coveted Michelin Star. That's good news not just for Singapore hawkers but street food vendors from around the world. Isn't it great to know that it all started with Singapore? 😃
2. This award will enhance Singapore's status as a complete culinary capital, offering memorable, delicious experiences from gritty street level eating to exclusive cloud 9 level fine dining.
3. With Michelin starred hawkers, more people will come to Singapore to try our hawker food, making our hawker stalls tourist destinations - not just food to fill hungry stomachs while in Singapore.
4. That means more business for hawkers and it augurs well for the survival, preservation and even renaissance [pardon the bombastic word 😝] of our culinary heritage.
^ Click for the Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken story
5. Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle have kicked open the door for more Singapore hawkers to receive Michelin Star recognition. (The Michelin Star Award in the same class as fine dining restaurants, not in a separate "second" division for street food only.) I was really delighted. It's a coup d'etat for street food. No longer standing outside at the door but on the same party, same stage, same table as the fine establishments.
6. The award proves that good food will be recognised whether it is at a hawker stall or in an exclusive fine dining restaurant. Every good hawker has a fighting chance. This will encourage hawkers to keep on doing their best, improving their craft. The standard of Singapore street food as a whole will rise up further.
7. Being a hawker is as respectable as being a chef or any other profession. Many young Singaporeans have already joined the ranks of our next generation street food warriors. With Michelin Star recognition for Mr Chan (Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken) and Mr Tang (Tai Hwa bak chor mee), more young people will consider hawkering as a career with excellent prospects. One that rewards hard work, entrepreneurship and perseverance.
^ Click for the Tai Hwa story
8. Bak Chor Mee 肉脞面, a true blue, invented in Singapore street food dish now has the Michelin Star stamp. Wait. That means our humble but well loved bak chor mee is the first true street food in the world to be awarded the Michelin Star. Isn't that something? 😃
9. Now, everyone can have a Michelin Star meal. Really. A serving of chicken rice at Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle costs SGD2 (USD1.50). A bowl of Michelin starred bak chor mee at Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle starts at SGD5 (USD3.70). These must set the world records for the most affordable Michelin Star food. That would dent Singapore's reputation as the most expensive city in the world 😃
10. Patronage of Singapore's hawker centres has been declining among the young. The Michelin Star recognition may spark a revival of interest and pride among Singapore youth about our culinary heritage. And, with that, hopefully more youth will visit and lead the rejuvenation of our hawker centres and culture.
👍 This is only the beginning. Suddenly, the doors are flunked open, the possibilities are limited only by our imagination. Together, let's take world street food to the next level, starting from Singapore yummy 😋
Once again, our heartiest congratulations to Mr Chan (HK Soya Sauce Chicken) and Mr Tang (Tai Hwa), and as the French say, Bon Appétit everyone.
🙏 Please help me add more good reasons to this list with your comments 😃
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