A Michelin-star chicken dinner for less than a tenner is the latest queue-worthy addition to Melbourne’s dining scene.
Singapore’s Hawker Chan has opened its first overseas outpost in Lonsdale Street, offering its famous chopped-to-order crispy-skin soya chicken and rice for just $6.80.
Chef Chan Hon Meng has been perfecting his famous take on Singapore’s ubiquitous chicken rice since 1989, winning his first Michelin star in 2016 and again this year. His Melbourne expansion is a partnership with Hersing Culinary (the company that brought Tim Ho Wan’s Michelin-star dumplings to Bourke Street in March).
Don’t expect any fancy trappings at Melbourne’s Hawker Chan. With a nod to the Singapore original, it’s more canteen than restaurant, with no bookings and long queues. Diners order and pick up their meals from a busy counter. Forget lingering over your meal at this lively 92-seater. Food arrives at lightning speed.
And if the restaurant’s flagship stall in Singapore’s Chinatown Complex is any guide, it’s not unusual to wait for up to three hours.
When you reach the counter (via another queue), the obvious choice is the soya chicken rice made from a recipe so secret that it’s prepared in a locked room. The marinade is made from scratch daily and chickens are infused in it overnight. The birds are then gently poached, blanched and served simply with jasmine rice. Most of the 20 dishes on the menu are priced under $10, with crowd-pleasers like crispy-skinned roast pork and char siu pork with rice or noodles. Vegetarians face slim pickings – Thai style tofu and seasonal veggies.
Hawker Chan has won the hearts and stomachs of Singaporeans, who enjoy some of the best hawker-style street food in the world. Now Melburnians can get a taste of the Lion’s City’s finest without leaving the city grid.