The text messages came rapidly yesterday morning to the mobile phone of Mr Arif Salahuddin, 55, owner of Bismillah Biryani in Dunlop Street and one-north.
They were from customers congratulating him.
He did not know what they were going on about until The Straits Times called him: He had been awarded a Bib Gourmand rating in the inaugural Michelin Guide for Singapore, to be launched on July 21.
The 34 on the list
• Alaturka, 16 Bussorah Street
• Hjh Maimunah, 11 Jalan Pisang
• Ka Soh, 2 College Road
• Kok Sen, 30 Keong Saik Road
• Lagnaa, 6 Upper Dickson Road
• New Ubin Seafood Block 27, Sin Ming Road
• Peony Jade at Keppel Club 10 Bukit Chermin Road
• Shish Mahal, 180 Albert Street
• Song Fa, six outlets, including 17 New Bridge Road
• 328 Katong Laksa 53 East Coast Road
• True Blue Cuisine 49 Armenian Street
• Whole Earth, 76 Peck Seah Street
• Yhingthai Palace, 36 Purvis Street
• Zaffron Kitchen
Two outlets, including 135/137 East Coast Road
Alexandra Village Food Centre
• Zhen Shan Mei Claypot Laksa
Amoy Street Food Centre
• A Noodle Story
• Famous Crispy Curry Puff
• Hong Kee Beef Noodle
• Hoo Kee Rice Dumpling
• The Fishball Story
Hong Lim Market & Food Centre
• Famous Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa
Bukit Merah View Market & Food Centre
• Na Na Homemade Curry
Toa Payoh West Market & Food Centre
• Chey Sua Carrot Cake
Maxwell Food Centre
• Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
Mei Ling Market & Food Centre
• Shi Hui Yuan Hor Fun Specialty
Newton Food Centre
• Alliance Seafood
Tiong Bahru Market
• Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice
• Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee
Whampoa Makan Place
• Balestier Road Hoover Rojak
• Liang Zhao Ji Duck Rice
• Wedang, Block 117, Aljunied Ave 2
• Bismillah Biryani 50 Dunlop Street
• JB Ah Meng Kitchen 2 Lorong 23 Geylang
• Sin Huat Eating House 659/661 Lorong 35 Geylang
In all, 34 eateries were given the rating, half of them hawker stalls. Most of those on the list knew what the Michelin Guide was but were not familiar with the Bib Gourmand award. It is for eateries that offer good value meals, which by Michelin's calculations is $45 here.
The list was released yesterday, ahead of the announcement next week of which restaurants here will receive Michelin's coveted one-, two- and three-star ratings.
Four hawker stalls in Amoy Street Food Centre - A Noodle Story, Famous Crispy Curry Puff, Hong Kee Beef Noodle and Hoo Kee Rice Dumpling - received the Bib Gourmand rating. Zi char stalwarts JB Ah Meng Kitchen and Sin Huat Eating House in Geylang did too.
Peranakan restaurant True Blue in Armenian Street and Indian restaurant Zaffron Kitchen in East Coast Road made the cut, as did Turkish and Mediterranean restaurant Alaturka in Bussorah Street and Peony Jade, a Cantonese restaurant at Keppel Club.
As soon as the list was revealed, foodies were congratulating their favourite hawkers but there were just as many knives out on social media.
Ambassador-at-large Tommy Koh, who has been a judge for The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao Singapore Hawker Masters awards, told The Straits Times: "As a champion of our hawker food, I am pleased that the inaugural Michelin Guide Singapore 2016 contains so many of our favourite hawker dishes.
"I am pleased that two of the winners of the Singapore Hawker Masters competition, namely, Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice and Hoover Rojak, are on the list."
However, others said that Singapore did not need foreigners to judge its street food and criticised the list for not being comprehensive enough.
Civil servant Wong Lok Oon, 62, said: "This list is not a good representation of our hawker culture. I don't see any Malay food stalls, and they have missed out good hawker centres such as Old Airport Road Food Centre, which has great lor mee and zi char, and Adam Road Food Centre for its prawn mee and nasi lemak."
But it was all sweet for Mr Arif from Bismillah, who started his business 15 years ago.
He said of the text messages: "I thought it was all a joke. After all, we make only briyani; we are not a full-service restaurant. I'm not someone who puts out advertisements or does promotions, so I'm glad for the recognition."
Hawker Douglas Ng, 25, who started The Fishball Story in 2014 at Golden Mile Food Centre and moved it to Timbre+ in Ayer Rajah Crescent this year, said he was surprised.
He said: "I hope this shows people that the hawker trade is not a dying one, and encourages more young people to make it a career.
"I think what made my stall stand out is the traditional way of hand-making our fishballs with yellowtail fish meat, using my grandmother's recipe.
"I think tourists will be visiting my stall, with the mention in the guide."
For more stories on Singapore's Michelin Guide, go to str.sg/4wqA