Singapore Eating: LiaoFan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodles
Address: Blk 335, Smith Street #02-126, Chinatown Food Complex, Singapore 050335
Visited: July 2017
Price: less than 10SGD per person
If you know about LiaoFan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodles, it’s probably because you know it’s officially the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world. The hawker stall, located in the Chinatown Food Complex, already had long lines before it gained world reknown in Singapore’s 2016 Michelin guide. Now, after being named once again by Michelin in 2017, the line is even more bonkers.
Quick note: The owner, Chan Hon Meng, sold the rights to open up franchises with his stall’s name to Hersing Culinary, which then built an 80-seat air-conditioned fast food-esque restaurant just across the street from the Chinatown Food Complex. We hear it’s not bad, and the owner still runs back and forth to check the chicken quality… but this is not that. Much like the many people who were in line with us, we went for the OG deal.
Back to the line. I highly, highly recommend going with a group of friends, just so that you can have someone to do some snack and drink runs to the many other stalls around the Chinatown Food Complex. The other people in line don’t seem to mind, and the order limit of 8 boxes per person is laughably generous.
And there’s a lot of other great stalls in the Chinatown Food Complex. Right across from the lineup, for instance, is a pretty good snack stall to get some fried Chinese donuts and youtiao. Directly behind that in the stall facing the other way is a drinks shop that will deliver you a very welcome cold kumquat tea. And all around are stellar places for Kaya Toast, fried fish cake, xiaolongbao, fried bee hoon, pork porridge and much, much more. In fact, it might be a challenge to have stomach left over by the time you get your chicken.
And it WILL take a long time to get your chicken. On a Tuesday workday mid-morning, we began waiting at 11am, reached the front of the line at noon, and then waited an extra 15 minutes for them to get the order ready. The total cost was insanely cheap: around 20SGD for one whole chicken, one chicken rice, one chicken noodle, one charsiu and one kalian.
So how was it?
The chicken was as advertised: succulent, tender, whatever adjectives you want to throw at it to describe amazing chicken. Whatever homegrown recipe the man has for marinating chicken, it is definitely extremely special. You can already see it in how plump and appetising each bird looks in the window of the stall, and when it’s down on your plate, combined with their special soya sauce and the egg noodles, the whole thing is marvellous.
While I prefer the noodles over the rice version, the rice was a sublime vehicle for their modified soy sauce.
As for the rest: kalian was a welcome addition to the mix, and the shoots were both tender and a fresh balance of sweet and bitter. It helped add a bit of lightness to what otherwise would’ve been almost just meat and carbs.
But the charsiu…
Well, I think you’re better off just sticking to their main offering.
Which makes me wonder, what exactly does a Michelin star represent anyway? Sure, Liaofan Hawker Chan is probably “a good place to stop on your journey, indicating a very good restaurant in its category, offering cuisine prepared to a consistently high standard,” but for one type of dish specifically. Especially when they already have something for “quality food at a value price” named the Bib Gourmand.
On the other hand, I guess there’s no reason for me to really nitpick this, and the only other thought I have is – good on ya, Hawker Chan and thanks for the chicken!