Hawker Chan draws foodies in Bangkok

Mr Atipol Terahsongkran said that since its opening on June 24, the Hawker Chan outlet at the Terminal 21 shopping mall in central Bangkok has been earning an average of $6,000 daily.
Mr Atipol Terahsongkran said that since its opening on June 24, the Hawker Chan outlet at the Terminal 21 shopping mall in central Bangkok has been earning an average of $6,000 daily.ST PHOTO: YASMIN LEE ARPON

Foodies in Thailand are slurping up soya sauce chicken noodles from a Singapore Michelin-starred food business which has recently opened a branch in Bangkok.

The outlet of Singapore's Hawker Chan restaurant, which was spun off from a Chinatown stall which received a Michelin star in the food guide, has got off to a good start.

The latest franchise outlet, only its third outside Singapore after branches in Taipei and Jakarta, was brought to the kingdom through Dim Sum Wonderland, a joint venture between supermarket operator Foodland and its Singapore partner, Hersing Culinary.

Since its opening on June 24, the outlet at the Terminal 21 shopping mall in central Bangkok has been earning an average of 148,000 baht (S$6,000) daily, said Mr Atipol Terahsongkran, managing director of Dim Sum Wonderland and the eldest son of Foodland founder Somsak Teraphatanaku.

Mr Chan Hon Meng, Hawker Chan's owner, has allowed the company to operate the restaurant in Thailand for eight years. Dim Sum Wonderland had earlier also brought in Hong Kong's Tim Ho Wan and South Korea's Mr Pizza.

Given the good start, Mr Atipol and his partners are eyeing a second outlet for Hawker Chan in Pattaya and a third in a still unidentified location. Each outlet requires a 15 million baht investment, with the firm eyeing sales of at least three million baht per month per branch.

"The reason we picked Hawker Chan is (that) we wanted something easily reachable by people and a brand that is already known," Mr Atipol told The Sunday Times.

The Bangkok staff have received training from Mr Chan's team in Singapore and the local menu is almost similar to the original outlet's except for a few tweaks.

"The soya chicken is, of course, the bestseller," said Mr Atipol. "We tweaked some recipes a little even though the menu is the same, like fried tofu. Instead of using green apple, we're using mango as topping."

They import the sauces and spices from Singapore but all the other ingredients, including chicken and pork, are sourced locally.

The price is almost similar to Singapore's too. "Maybe even slightly cheaper than Singapore because the labour cost is cheaper, rent is cheaper," he said. A soya chicken or crispy pork noodle set, for example, costs 100 baht.

But some, like freelance artist Yongyut Buranatebatorn, 35, who has tried the food in Singapore, still find the prices high. "The taste is good but I think it's quite expensive for this kind of food. A lot of Thai restaurants here offer lower prices and more variety," he said.

Businessman Jim Tongchaikorn, 37, a first-timer at the restaurant, said everything was good, especially the ribs and the tofu. "I saw an article in the media and came to check. The taste is very nice."

While Bangkok is already a haven for street-food lovers, Mr Atipol said the difference lies in offering a Michelin-starred brand at affordable prices, prepared in a different way. "It's not quite 'street' anymore. It's more hygienic and has nicer appeal."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 23, 2017, with the headline 'Hawker Chan draws foodies in Bangkok'. Print Edition | Subscribe