MICHELIN-STARRED SOYA SAUCE CHICKEN

Will you queue to eat Michelin-starred hawker food?  And how long are you prepared to queue?

Well, I have decided to give it a try when I was in Chinatown recently, although I don’t normally like to queue too long for food.  It turned out to be a good 45-minute wait during non-peak hours (after 3pm), on a weekday.  Perhaps this is considered not too long the wait, given its popularity way before being awarded one Michelin star last year.

S$12 for half a soya sauce chicken and S$6 for a mixture of char siew and roast pork.  Very affordable prices for its “status”. 

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Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle – one of the two hawker food stalls that was awarded one Michelin star in 2016.  The other was Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle.

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The queue was divided into two parts : one in the air-con area inside the shop and the rest outside

I noticed that the queue was made up of mostly foreigners/tourists.  How not to be attracted to this cheapest Michelin-starred meal in the world if you are touring Singapore?!  Moreover it is the first time in the Michelin history that an Asian street food has been given this prestigious award.

It took me about 25 minutes just to have my take-away order taken, and then another 20 minutes to wait for my order to be ready.  There were no separate queues for eat-in and take-away customers but overall the queue was moving smoothly and the wait was pleasant.  🙂

A very pleasant, senior-in-age male staff  who was in charge of clearing and getting ready the tables for the eat-in customers, doubled-up his roles in managing the queue too.  He was so nice to even offer me a stool to sit at one corner while I was waiting to collect my order.   Such a nice gesture of customer care has definitely won my heart!  I just hope that this uncle’s job is not too strenuous for his age.

I wonder how many chickens, and how many kilos of roast pork and Char Siew are sold each day?!

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Basically there is a good numbering system for order-taking and collection of food/order.  There was even a self-service order station!  Cool!  Unfortunately, it was under utilised based on my observation.  Most people seemed to still prefer the manual ordering system over the cashier counter.  I also noted that the staffs were pleasant, friendly and efficient.

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So, was it worth my 45-minute wait?  Yes, definitely!  While hubby and I think that the char siew was quite good, the roast pork was nice but nothing spectacular.  The star i.e. the soya sauce chicken, was definitely outstanding.  The meat was tender, sweet and has a nice herbal fragrance.  Oh, I also love the chilli which has a very shiok sourish taste that went very well with the chicken!

Together with my home-cooked Chinese spinach soup, we had a lovely dinner that day.  I would surely want to go back again someday and to eat there instead.

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HOME-MADE CHAR SIEW

I have not been eating pork since my secondary school days.  I am not a vegetarian (as you can see from my postings on food) and I can never be one since I love seafood.  It is also not due to any religious reason but a scary story about some sort of bacteria found in pork (if not cooked properly) that my biology teacher told the class in my secondary school.  Since I trusted my teacher (and I suppose all students do), and there was no way to verify the truth of that story then (internet was not available yet), I became paranoid and kiasi (a Hokkien word meaning afraid to die).  So I stopped eating pork completely.

Many years later, I did try to eat a bit of pork again but I have somehow become very sensitive to its smell, and still don’t feel comfortable eating it.  Memory of that scary story can’t seem to go away too, even after such a long time.  So, you can imagine that my hubby has been deprived of pork at our dining table but I am trying to make a change, though not a drastic one.  I began to cook pork in recent years but only very occasionally, so that hubby can have some rare treats.  I had been able to do only two pork dishes – Lor Bak (Chinese braised pork) and Bak Kut Teh (pork ribs soup with herbs and spices).  A few months ago, I expanded my list of pork dishes a little bit by adding Char Siew onto it.  It was my third time making Char Siew yesterday, so we had Char Siew rice with braised beancurd for dinner.  I could see that hubby was satisfied with it, and of course, that made my day.

Hubby’s portion with a lot more Char Siew. 

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My Char Siew was prepared with reference to the recipe found on this website called Guai Shu Shu (click here for the recipe and instructions).

I used fresh pork fillets which are normally lean and suitable for Char Siew, according to the butcher in the Fairprice Finest outlet that I went to.  About 250g only.

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Pork was marinated with lots of ingredients as per the recipe with quantity adjusted to fit the amount of pork used.  I also used less five-spice powder and sugar but more honey, and I did not use the red fermented beancurd since that’s more for colouring effect.

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The meat was kept in the chiller for 3 days.  I took it out every day to toss it around in order to get a more even marination.

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I used a different method to cook it.  It was a two-step method which I came across somewhere on the internet.

Firstly, it was cooked in a wok, using small fire, until the gravy turned thick (see next photo), and then it was roasted

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Since I didn’t have skewers, I used bamboo sticks instead.  A cake tray lined with aluminium foil was used to hold the sticks.  The cooked meat was brushed with honey before being put into the oven.

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It was roasted at 180 degree Celsius for about 8 mins, brushed with another layer of honey, and put back in the oven for another 7 mins. 

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You would probably wonder why I put a layer of aluminium each in the baking tray and also on the chopping board (above).  That was just to make it easy for my cleaning.  Just see how dirty the base of the tray was after the Char Siew was removed.  It would be a chore to scrub the dirt off.

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The Char Siew tasted great but I would say it didn’t have the same exact taste as the Char Siew bought from stalls.  The missing reddish look did not really matter.  So, it was nice to be able to have home made Char Siew this way.