Review: Hawker Chan, Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle, Singapore

The Michelin Guide launched in Singapore in mid-2016. The one big revelation in the guide that got everyone talking was the awarding of a Michelin star to an unassuming little hawker stall in Chinatown markets, Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle. Costing mere dollars for a plate of their signature soya sauce chicken, it’s quite possibly the cheapest Michelin-starred eatery in the world.

Since it won the Michelin star, its fame has spread far and wide. The small hawker stall in Chinatown markets can no longer handle the amount of traffic it receives, and sells out by 2pm in the afternoon.

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That’s why we found ourselves heading to the brand-new sit-down restaurant opened as a larger branch of the hawker stall for a very late lunch one afternoon during our stay in Singapore. It’s still located in Chinatown, and is just opposite the markets so not too far from the original hawker stall.

The line is still long, but manageable. With sufficient seating and more than a dozen staff bussing tables, manning the till and preparing food in the kitchen, you’ll wait less than half an hour for a seat. Not bad!

Soya Sauce Chicken Noodle, $4.50SGD
Soya Sauce Chicken Noodle, $4.50SGD

The Soya Sauce Chicken is obviously the star of the show, and I can see why. The meat is ridiculously soft and tender, with the slightest hint of the soy braising. Where the soy is really highlighted is in the sauce which comes with the chicken no matter if you decide to have it served with rice, noodles or hor fun. It’s a fantastically rich, dark soy which tastes beautiful mixed through the noodles.

Char Siew Hor Fun, $4.80SGD
Char Siew Hor Fun, $4.80SGD

I don’t know if the Char Siew is on the menu at the original hawker stall, but I do recommend it for those who dine at the sit-down restaurant. While I think the char siew was better at Tasty BBQ in Bentleigh because of the sliver-thin slicing, the smokiness of this char siew was quite remarkable. Again, the soy sauce was fantastic mixed through the fresh slippery hor fun.

Soya Beansprouts, $3SGD
Soya Beansprouts, $3SGD

I find it difficult to have a meal without vegetables and so ordered the Soya Beansprouts. Very barely stir-fried, these beansprouts were still fresh and crunchy, enhanced by the crushed nuts on top. There’s no need to rely on heavy sauces in a dish like this when the produce is still so fresh and delightful eaten as is.

2 Combination Platter (Roasted Pork and Char Siew), $6SGD
2 Combination Platter (Roasted Pork and Char Siew), $6SGD

Despite having already had about four meals each prior to arriving at the restaurant, I decided that our group of four needed one more dish in order to complete our meal. I ordered the Two Combination Platter with Roasted Pork and Char Siew – unfortunately they were out of the Pork Ribs (the fourth type of meat they serve), so I had to opt for a second serving of the char siew. Worth it! 

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There are some who will argue that visiting the new sit-down restaurant isn’t as authentic as lining up for hours at the hawker stall. In most instances, I would probably agree with that statement. However considering the general heat and humidity of Singapore, I really don’t mind the occasional interlude in an air-conditioned restaurant when it means you don’t have to queue and wait for as long! 

Michelin-starred food at a bargain price. Surprisingly it’s not to everyone’s tastes – some German tourists sitting next to us actually ended up leaving the majority of their chicken on their plate when they left! I guess it really depends on your tastebuds and what you’re used to. For someone who’s grown up on this food though, Hawker Chan’s Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle not only tastes like the best of Singapore, but also like home.

The original Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle, is located in the Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre in Singapore. Their first sit-down restaurant is located at 78 Smith Street in Singapore.

Review: Na Bednarskiej Pierogi, Warsaw Poland

As much as we relied on suggestions from locals about restaurants to try while we were travelling around Europe, this method wasn’t always entirely foolproof. People have different tastes, and what’s good for one person, isn’t good for another.

Na Bednarskiej Pierogi in Warsaw was the perfect example of this. It had been recommended by one of the guides we’d met as a place that serves good pierogi, but honestly it was a bit disappointing.

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Our visit started off promisingly enough – as we walked into the restaurant, a group of local office workers were walking out. That’s always a good sign of a cheap and reliable local restaurant! However, things got a little more disorganised from there.

There was only one person in the restaurant when there would normally have been at least two or three. This meant that the one waitress would take two or three orders at a time, go to the kitchen to prepare the meals, serve them, and then go back to the counter to take more orders. While she was very friendly, the whole process was remarkably inefficient and a bit frustrating.

Meat Plate of pierogi, 23 Polish Zloty
Meat Plate of pierogi, 23 Polish Zloty

K ordered the Meat Plate, made up of a variety of different pierogi off their menu. My pick of the bunch was probably the red-skinned spicy Diavolo pierogi, made of pork, beef, paprika, onion, marjoram, and plenty of pepper and salt! While it wasn’t as spicy as I would have wanted it to be, it was still a lot spicier than standard Polish cuisine. Like the pierogi we had at Polakowski in Krakow however, I thought the pastry was much too thick which made the whole dish a bit too stodgy.

Daily Meal soup (18 Polish Zloty)
Daily Meal soup (18 Polish Zloty)

I had originally wanted to order some pancakes, Volhynian, with bacon and potatoes. Unfortunately, the restaurant was out of stock so with a bit of panic as I was forced to make a second choice immediately, I opted for the Daily Meal of soup, dish of the day, raw salad and compote drink.

The soup was a mix of pork and vegetables with a bit of cream in the mix. Unfortunately however, it seemed to be the case that the restaurant had chosen to use more offcuts than the nicer parts of vegetables – so the ends of carrots, and the thick parts of celery. It was as though they had taken all the offcuts that would normally be used for making a nice rich stock, and just added cream to the mix to turn it into a soup.

Daily Meal Dish of the Day
Daily Meal Dish of the Day

The Dish of the Day was just as disappointing. While seated in the restaurant, I heard the distinct hum of a microwave, and a cheery ‘ding’. Less than a minute later, this clump of reheated microwaved faux-paella was placed in front of me along with three slices of cucumber as the ‘raw salad’ of the day. Suffice to say that I ate some truly terrible Weight Watchers meals two years ago when I went through my extreme weight-loss period and I would rate this paella in that category.

Locals may like it, but I honestly can’t rate or recommend Na Bednarskiej Pierogi. The daily meal special is extremely disappointing and the pierogi can be a bit hit and miss with their thick pastry. Go elsewhere for a good meal in Warsaw!

Na Bednarskiej Pierogi is located at 28/30 Bednarska ul in Warsaw, Poland.

Review: Croque Madame, Warsaw Poland

If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of pastries and other baked goods. Just call me the carb-monster, I’ll answer to that name! Europe has been a dream come true for me in that regard, with excellent pastries, bread and baked goods to be found in every country – each with its own unique twist.

While in Warsaw, we got into the habit of stopping into Croque Madame, a little café on the main shopping street, more than once for a mid-morning snack to keep us going till lunchtime.

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The first day we stopped by on a Sunday, the tables outside were all full of guests enjoying a leisurely Sunday brunch. It was quieter on subsequent weekdays as you can tell from the photo above.

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As a café, Croque Madame offers a fairly small range of treats. Coffees and teas are on the menu of course, as are a selection of tarts, pies, pastries and cakes. If you’re after something more savoury, they have a small range of ready-made baguettes (get in early, they sell out quickly!) and salads too. However the real drawcard seems to be their gelato which is popular with many customers.

We didn’t try the gelato though. After having just visited Italy with their fabulous range of gelaterias, we feared that we would be disappointed with anything else! Instead, we tried a few of their pastries and sandwiches as takeaway items for mid-morning snacks over a few days.

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The first was described to us by the waitress as a “Polish cake with blackberries”. This proved to be a soft, sweet and squishy hybrid of brioche and a jam donut. While I liked the powdered sugar on top, the blackberries proved to be much too tart for my liking, with the sweetness of the sugar hardly doing anything to soften the tartness.

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Another choice was a savoury sandwich of brie, cranberry jam and rocket. It’s such a timeless combination – creamy ripe soft cheese with peppery rocket and sweet berry jam. Each element balances the other perfectly, creating a sandwich to die for on crusty seeded wholegrain bread.

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On another day, we tried a raspberry and custard pastry. Glazed with sugar on top, this was a delicious little doughy bun. The sweet custard helped to soften whatever tartness was left in the raspberries, and the sugary crust gave it a nice texture whenever you took a bite. It is quite sweet as a result though, and best suited to those with a sweet tooth!

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The last pastry we tried was a deliciously buttery raspberry croissant. Flaky and buttery, this croissant was lined with a thin layer of raspberry jam right throughout the pastry. Very simple, but the superb puff pastry makes it a treat to be savoured.

Croque Madame is popular with locals for their ice-cream, but their pastries are definitely worth trying as well! Either sit in the sun with a coffee and a pastry like the locals, or if you want to make the most of your time sightseeing in Warsaw, grab a pastry to-go as we did! There’s nothing quite like strolling the Old Town of Warsaw eating a buttery pastry and licking raspberry jam off your fingers.

Croque Madame is located at Nowy Swiat 41 in Warsaw, Poland.