This Is The World's Cheapest Michelin-Starred Meal

Mention Michelin stars and you might already feel your wallet getting lighter. While many Michelin-starred restaurants are recognized as fine dining institutions serving lengthy tasting menus brimming with creativity, not all fit into this description. The best example that defies this image of luxury is a food stall in Singapore's Chinatown Complex Market & Food Center called Hawker Chan (previously Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle).

If you're surprised the Michelin Guide made it here, you're not the only one. Chan Hon Meng, owner and chef of Hawker Chan tells CNN he thought it was a joke when he first heard that Michelin had an eye on his stall. The Malaysian-born chef began his cooking career in Singapore, training under a Hong Kong chef (via Hawker Chan). This experience led him to open his stall in 2009, ready to serve the dish he had mastered.

Chan's signature dish which gained international recognition is Cantonese soy sauce chicken with rice and soybeans, sold for the equivalent of $2.25 (via Insider). Chan begins early in the morning by marinating the chicken in soy sauce and ten spices and continues braising it by hand throughout the day. Chicken and rice sound pretty standard, but the preparation for this decades-old recipe and the quality of the ingredients are deemed worthy of a stop, according to its Michelin star and numerous satisfied customers.

Success near and far

Predictably, as mentioned in the guide and by countless visitors, there is "always a queue" (via Michelin Guide). Apparently, 80 chickens or about 600 portions are sold every day. After visiting, Katie Warren at Insider said the stall works like a well-oiled machine. Orders are taken and paid for, plates are prepared (often by Chan himself), and before you know it the next person in line takes your place.

Upon receiving the star in 2016, Meng experienced a rise in business and decided to open a dine-in location to accommodate the increase (via CNN). As well, Hawker Chan partnered with a branding agent to open 12 franchises in six countries (via Hawker Chan). The stall received a star for the next three years; however, the awards were canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic (via Michelin Guide). Though slightly more expensive at double the price, the Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle hawker stand in Singapore has also received a Michelin star (via Michelin Guide).

Singapore is well known for its hawker centers, large communal dining areas with hundreds of food stands serving traditional dishes to hungry locals and tourists (via National Geographic). The centers go far beyond sustenance and are deeply ingrained in Singaporean culture, playing a significant role in the community, notes UNESCO. While they are a part of daily life, the presence of a Michelin star demonstrates that high-quality food doesn't always entail an expensive and extravagant experience.