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Hawker Chan’s Michelin star to delight Yangon’s Singapore Festival 2020


There has been a buzz around Yangon recently, as the upcoming Singapore Festival 2020 approaches. The last festival was in 2018, and featured a street party that attracted more than a hundred thousand people to Bogalay Zay Street. It was the talk of the town for weeks after.
But last year the festival disappeared. So when the Singapore Tourism Board recently announced their return to Yangon this year, many wondered what would be on offer.

This year’s Singapore Festival will be a glamorous garden party, held on the grounds of the historic Chin Tsong Palace. The dates are February 1 and 2. Festival-goers will be entertained with live music DJs. The Festival will also bring an Art Walk installation to town, showcasing lots of instagrammable art works for Yangonites to enjoy.

However, the most memorable thing from the last festival will be returning – the delicious dishes from top Singaporean and Myanmar chefs. And Singapore will be bringing its finest for the event, with chefs Aaron Wong and Jeremy Cheok preparing their magic at the Rangoon Tea House and Shwe Sa Bwe. Another blockbuster Singapore-Myanmar combo will be Hawker Chan at the Pan Pacific Yangon.

Chan Hon Meng, affectionately known as Hawker Chan by his many fans, is famous as the world’s first Michelin-starred street hawker chef. Most Michelin-starred chefs work at fine-dining restaurants, spending their time crafting expensive menus. Hawker Chan stands out from this elite group, making his name while working at the humble Chinatown Complex Food Centre in Singapore, serving his dishes for three dollars or less.

Even after gaining his Michelin Star status, his prices didn’t go up. That makes Hawker Chan’s meals some of the cheapest Michelin-starred meals in the world.

And is the secret behind Hawker Chan’s success? Well, it’s his soya sauce chicken rice of course. It’s a deceptively simple-sounding dish: he marinates his chicken in soya sauce, roasts it, chops it, cooks the rice with chicken fat, and then serves it. But with his magic touch, he makes it into one of the most delicious things in the world.

“Chicken is a universal dish. You find it in cuisines all over the world” Hawker said “But each country and culture has its own special twist on how they cook chicken. Through my soya sauce chicken rice, I just want the people of Myanmar to experience Singapore’s own unique take on this meat.

I visited Yangon in 2018 for the last festival, where I was glad to meet and serve my dish to the people here. I am eager to see them again. I hope more people will come to try my soya sauce chicken rice”.

This soya sauce chicken rice is exactly what Hawker Chan will be serving during this festival. For those who love the dish and would like an up close and personal encounter with Hawker Chan before the Singapore Festival on 1 and 2 February, consider this. For one night only on 31 January, lucky diners will be able to taste the famous soya sauce chicken rice alongside other dishes by both Hawker Chan and Pan Pacific Yangon chefs, as part of a special four-hand dinner event organised by Pan Pacific Yangon.

With all the unique dining experiences on offer at the Singapore Festival 2020, Myanmar foodies will get a taste of Singapore’s very eclectic dining scene. No matter what kind of tastes you’re passionate about, they can be satisfied in Singapore. From authentic, traditional, and multicultural cuisine, to full-scale three-Michelin-star haute cuisine, Singapore will fulfil your every gastronomic desire.

For those who are keen on tasting Hawker Chan’s soya sauce chicken rice at the Singapore Festival 2020, as well as a whole host of other dishes by top chefs from Singapore and Myanmar, you can find more details at https://www.facebook.com/events/444349939827796/.

To find out more about the culinary talents behind the name, Metro interviewed Hawker Chan about his approach to food and about the upcoming Singapore Festival 2020 in Yangon.

How and when did you start your food business, and who inspired you?

I have always been inspired by my family. My culinary journey began back in my teenage days when I prepared meals daily for them. This early exposure to cooking developed my passion.

This culinary passion is strongly based on the belief that good food should be simple and affordable. Then at a young age of 15, I left school and my hometown to go to Singapore to find work.

During these early years of my apprenticeship under a Hong Kong chef, I learned and developed the soya sauce chicken recipe.

When did you open your own restaurant in Singapore?

In 2009, I started my Liao Fan Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle hawker stall in the Chinatown Complex Food Centre in Singapore. Then in 2016, I started my first quick service restaurant at 78 Smith Street, Singapore.

Can you explain about the dishes you’re most famous for, including the soya sauce chicken rice dish?

My signature dish would be the “soya sauce chicken rice”, which is made with different types of herbs and spices. It’s a recipe I created after doing a lot of research, then spent some time perfecting to get a consistent taste. To make it you have to simmer the chicken in the special sauce, and keep it cooking under the controlled hear for hours to make it tender and savoury. It’s served with fragrant rice.

My pork dishes are also quite well known. For example, I like to make roasted pork that is juicy and tender. It has crispy skin and tasty fat, giving it a real “melt-in-the-mouth” sensation. Another pork dish is “char siew”, which is barbecued pork meat.

Each piece is marinated in a sweet savoury sauce and barbecued to produce a sweet, charred piece of caramelized pork. It has a tasty combination of lean and fat textures. Finally, I also have pork ribs, which are marinated and roasted to soft tenderness. The overall taste is a delightful mix of saltiness and sweetness.

What is your secret to making such delicious food?

There is no secret to making delicious food. Most of us are capable of doing it. It’s all about passion and persistence towards what you are making. Personally, I only use premium and fresh ingredients to make my dishes. I also think it is important to be consistent with the taste and food quality.

How did you feel when you found out you were being awarded a Michelin star?

I received the Michelin Star from the Michelin Guide Singapore in July 2016 and it gave me great pride. It was beyond my imagination that my humble soya sauce recipe would be recognized by the prestigious Michelin Guide and awarded the title of “The World First Hawker Michelin-starred Meal” and “The Cheapest Michelin-starred Meal in The Word”.

How did the Michelin star impact your career?

It allowed me to expand my business! I am honoured to get to travel around the world and be exposed to food-related events and business opportunities.

How do you keep the price affordable and not increase it like other restaurants?

Compared to other Michelin eateries, our prices are lower due to inexpensive rental and low employment expenses. I keep my prices low because I am grateful to my regular customers who have supported me through these years.

Where have you travelled to show off your dishes, and what’s your favourite foreign dish?

I have shared my dishes in countries across America, Europe, Middle East and Asia. Curry Sausage in Germany is my favourite foreign dish so far.

Source: Myanmar Times

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