SINGAPORE - Less than 12 hours after his stall was awarded one star in the inaugural Singapore Michelin Guide, Mr Chan Hon Meng, 51, was back at work whipping up his signature soya sauce chicken dish for customers at Chinatown Complex.
A queue of 10 people had formed at his Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle outlet even before it opened on Friday (July 22) morning. As of 10.30am, there were 21 people in the queue.
Following his award, Mr Chan is considering introducing new dishes and opening another outlet. He told The Straits Times he has no plans to raise prices, but "you never know what can happen in the future".
He said: "Even if I increase prices, customers will definitely not have to pay more than $20 for a chicken.
"When I was opening my stall, I felt that a lot of chicken rice in Singapore was cooked in the Hainanese style, so I wanted to present a dish in a different style.
"Now that people know I've won this award, I'm a bit afraid of disappointing them."
Mr Chan's wife, Madam Irene Quek, 40, who helps out at the stall sometimes, was pleased to see her husband recognised for his culinary efforts.
She said: "When I heard the news, I was very happy. I am very proud of my husband. He has been working very hard for so many years. I'm glad that he finally got this recognition."
Salesgirl Cynthia Ang, 46, said she has eaten at the stall every week for more than five years, praising the food as "cheap and good".
"Although I think the food is good, I'm quite surprised that it won a Michelin star because I don't know if it is really the best there is.
"That also means I have to wait longer, which is an inconvenience. I am willing to wait for 45 minutes, but no longer than that."
Aircraft technician Lin Wai Hung, 56, said he drops by once a month to buy half a duck or a whole chicken for a family meal.
He said: "I like the food because the meat is tender, juicy, and not oily. I'm not surprised that it won a Michelin star because the food is good, although I haven't tried soya sauce chicken dishes elsewhere.
"Normally I can queue for up to half an hour. Now I think the queue might be even longer. But I don't mind because it is good for the hawker. If his food is good, of course he deserves the business."
After hearing about the stall's Michelin award, oil refinery technician Tommy Sim, and his wife Priscilla Luan, both 34, travelled from Eunos to sample the food.
He said: "I won't try many of the restaurants which won Michelin stars because they are very expensive. But at least the food at this stall is affordable.
"To be honest, I wouldn't place too much emphasis on Michelin giving this stall a star. It is just a guide and provides suggestions as to where people can eat. Everyone has their own tastes and favourites. If the food here is no good, I will also not come back again."
Over at Crawford Lane, a queue of 36 people had formed at 12pm at the Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle stall, which also earned Michelin's one-star award.
Part-time telemarketer Lynn Chen, 42, who has been patronising the outlet two or three times a week for over 10 years, said she enjoys the tasty noodles and the deep-fried cuttlefish and seaweed included in the dish.
She said: "The good thing is that we now have a Michelin-star eatery below my block. The bad news is that the queue now will be as long as the Great Wall of China. The stall wins the award, but we - the customers - lose."
First-time customer Frederick Ann came from Commonwealth after reading about the stall's award online.
The full-time national serviceman, 20, said: "I don't think I will be visiting the restaurants who won Michelin stars because it is outside my budget.
"And I take the Michelin's guide with a bit of salt. Even if the food is very good, this stall is very far from where I live."
• For more Michelin-related stories, go to str.sg/4wqA