After his hawker stall was awarded a prestigious Michelin star, hawker Chan Hon Meng, 51, decided to open 45 minutes earlier than his usual 10am.
On Thursday night, right after the awards were announced, the owner of Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle at Chinatown Food Complex said: "I know more people will come. I want to open earlier so the crowds will be more manageable."
He was right. Some customers were there as early as 8.50am. By 9.15am, a queue had formed and it grew to more than 20 people at 10.30am.
Oil refinery technician Tommy Sim and his wife Priscilla Luan, both 34, were among the early birds, and had travelled from Eunos to sample the food after reading about the news online.
Mr Sim said: "We want to try the chicken to see how good it is. I won't try many of the restaurants which received Michelin stars because they are expensive. But the food at this stall is affordable."
GOOD AND BAD
The good thing is that we now have a Michelin-starred eatery below our block. The bad news is that the queue now will be as long as the Great Wall of China.
MS LYNN CHEN, 42, a part-time telemarketer who lives in the same block as Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle in Crawford Lane. She has been patronising the stall two or three times a week for more than a decade.
Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle
Chinatown Food Complex
Soya sauce chicken noodles: From $2.50 a plate
Soya sauce chicken rice: From $2 a plate
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
From $5 a bowl
Saleswoman Cynthia Ang, 46, was less enthusiastic. She works nearby and patronises the stall every week.
"Although I think the food is good, I'm surprised that it won a Michelin star because I don't know if it is really the best there is," she said.
The stall's signature dishes are soya sauce chicken rice ($2 a plate) and soya sauce chicken noodles ($2.50 a plate). A whole soya sauce chicken costs $14.
Mr Chan, who was born in Malaysia and is now Singaporean, has been cooking chicken rice for about 20 years and opened his stall in 2009.
He currently sells more than 100 chickens a day.
His wife, Madam Irene Quek, 40, who sometimes helps at the stall, said: "He has been working very hard for so many years. I'm glad that he finally got this recognition."
They have a 10-year-old daughter and live in a three-room Housing Board flat in Chinatown.
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle in Crawford Lane, the other hawker stall with one Michelin star, also saw a longer queue. The stall sells about 400 bowls a day, with prices starting at $5 a bowl.
Customers said they usually stand in line for about 45 minutes but yesterday, some queued for more than an hour.
Ms Lynn Chen, 42, who lives in the same block, started queuing at 11.10pm, but got her food only at 12.15pm.
The part-time telemarketer, who has been patronising the stall two or three times a week for more than a decade, said: "The good thing is that we now have a Michelin- starred eatery below our 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 customers lose.
"But I will still queue because my husband and I like the food."
Full-time national serviceman Frederick Ann, 20, travelled from his home in Commonwealth to Tai Hwa for the first time to sample the noodles.
He said: "I like to try new recommendations, and will also make a trip to the soya sauce chicken rice stall in Chinatown soon."
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle's owner, Mr Tang Chay Seng, 70, said he would not be raising prices, hiring more workers or expanding for the time being.
"If the waiting times get too long, I will just have to tell customers to come back later."
His late father, Mr Tang Joon Teo, started the stall in Hill Street in 1932. In the 1980s, the stall moved to Marina Square. In 2004, it moved again to its present location in Crawford Lane.
"I am sure my late father would be very proud to see his recipe honoured this way," Mr Tang said.