A Singapore restaurant with the cheapest Michelin-starred meal in the world lost its only Michelin star

Michellin star chef Chan Hon Meng (Hawker Chan) prepares food during the Bread & Butter by Zalando at Festsaal Kreuzberg on September 2, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.
Chan Hon Meng, founder of Hawker Chan, was awarded a Michelin Star in 2016. Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images for Zalando
  • Hawker Chan, known for having the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal, has lost it star.
  • The food bible’s 2021 guide, released September 1, notably left out the once renowned restaurant.
  • Founded by Chef Chan Hon Meng, the eatery is known for its chicken and rice, priced at $US2.25 ($AU3).
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A chef in Singapore who rose to fame for serving the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal from a food stall is notably missing from the food bible’s 2021 guide.

Chef Chan Hon Meng, who received worldwide acclaim for his simple yet delicious soya chicken and rice meal, owned one of two Singapore-based hawker stalls awarded Michelin stars in July 2016.

At the time, his famous $US2.25 ($AU3) (3 Singapore dollars) dish was served out of a food stall in Singapore’s Chinatown Complex Food Centre. Originally from Malaysia, Chef Meng is well-known for his mantra that “good food should be made simple and affordable,” according to the restaurant’s website.

Four years on, however, Michelin’s 2021 food guide of Singapore no longer mentions Chef Meng or Hawker Chan, his concept restaurant started just three months after receiving his original food stall received its single Michelin star. It’s still found on the Michelin website, retaining a Michelin Bib Gourmand status, which the food bible describes as a “value-for-money” award given to eateries serving a delicious “simpler style of cooking.”

Customers stand outside the Chan Hong Meng food stall in Singapore, Singapore, 26 October 2016.
Chef Meng started his acclaimed hawker food stall in 2009. Kyle Malinda-White/picture alliance via Getty Images

The exact reason Hawker Chan is no longer Michelin-starred remains unknown

It could be related to how Chef Meng’s menu stacked up against the food bible’s five criteria, used to assess whether a restaurant is worthy of receiving a coveted star. According to the Michelin guide website, these criteria include “quality of the ingredients used, mastery of flavor and cooking techniques, the personality of the chef in his cuisine, value for money and consistency between visits.”

Assessments are carried out by multiple “inspectors,” tasked with eating two meals a day, five days a week. They retain their independence by paying for their own meals and carry out their visits under total anonymity, adding to the shrouded mystery of Michelin’s star system.

Chef Meng's once Michelin-starred meal, chicken and rice.
Chef Meng’s famous chicken and rice dish. Kyle Malinda-White/picture alliance via Getty Images

In an interview with CNN, Singaporean food critic KF Seetoh, dubbed the “Guru of Grub” by the New York Times according to his website Makansutra, said Michelin upheld the prestige of its star system following news of Hawker Chan’s absence from the 2021 guide.

“I think Michelin has correctly stuck to their guns and protected the dignity of the stars,” he told the publication.

While there has been speculation as to whether the quality of food dropped as Chef Meng expanded his business, Insider journalist Katie Warren paid a visit to his food stall in March 2021, praising the eatery for its “laid-back yet mouthwateringly delicious meal.”

Both the Michelin Guide and Hawker Chan did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.