It’s been about a year since Singaporean chef Chan Hon Meng earned one Michelin star for his renowned soya sauce chicken at Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle stall. Since his win, he went on to open another restaurant in Singapore, Hawker Chan, and has made his mark regionally in Taipei, Bangkok and Jakarta.
This year, he will be making his debut at the upcoming MICHELIN guide Street Food Festival in Macau. Taking place from 5–8 October 2017 at Studio City’s Macau Gourmet Walk and supported by official title partner Melco Resorts & Entertainment, the four-day event will see chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants, Bib Gourmand and Michelin-recommended eateries across Asia serving their street-food creations and signature delicacies.
Entry is free and small plates start from MOP40, which can be bought with Street Food Coupons purchased at the event. A star-studded line-up of eateries from Singapore and Japan will be coming to Macau to cook for the very first time – including Chef Chan Hon Meng, who will be serving up his prized soya sauce chicken rice. In this exclusive interview, he shares with us his humble beginnings and his tips for making the perfect roast chicken.
How did your business get started? And why soya sauce chicken?
From a young age I helped out in the kitchen and started cooking for my family. That sparked my interest in the culinary field. I started as a kitchen assistant in various restaurants, and I was apprenticing under a Hong Kong chef who taught me how to braise soya sauce chicken. I fell in love with the delicate process, and I experimented and improved the recipe to make it my own.
What kinds of opportunities have opened up to you since you earned your Michelin star?
Many doors opened to me and I was granted various opportunities for expansion, one of which is partnering with Hersing Culinary. Their expertise has helped to open three Hawker Chan restaurants in Singapore and three more overseas. I have also collaborated with Tiger Beer and was able to cook and partner with other fellow Michelin-starred chefs around the world. I am truly grateful for these opportunities.
What’s the key to a good roast chicken?
To cook the perfect chicken, it must be thoroughly braised to retain its tenderness, juiciness and flavour. I use only the finest and freshest herbs and ingredients for my food.
Other than your famous soya sauce chicken, what do you like to cook for your family at home?
I love to cook simple, home-cooked meals for my family.
We heard you opened your first overseas outlet in Taipei. Where else would you like to set up shop?
We opened our first overseas outlet in Taipei in April 2017. Following that, we opened outlets in Bangkok, Thailand, and Jakarta, Indonesia. In the pipeline are expansions to Melbourne, Australia, and Manila, Philippines. Please visit us if you are in these countries! I hope to open one restaurant in every country.
Do you have any tips for people who want to start their own hawker business?
It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to work in the hawker line. You must have the passion for food and people. If you do not have the right mindset, you will easily lose steam and wear out. I highly encourage and admire those who have chosen this path as hawkering is not highly regarded as a profession.
If you could eat anything in the world right now, what would it be?
It does not matter what food I eat – it’s who I am eating the food with.