Food File

The Irish Times Magazine - - NEWS -

Marie- Claire Digby talks to street chef Chan Hon Meng about his Miche­lin star

The year 2016 has come to be seen as the piv­otal point when the Miche­lin Guide, ar­biter of res­tau­rant din­ing, con­firmed that it re­ally was all about the food, not plush din­ing rooms, slick ser­vice and lux­u­ri­ous fa­cil­i­ties.

In Oc­to­ber of that year they awarded one- star sta­tus to Heron & Grey, a small, one- room res­tau­rant in a south Dublin flea mar­ket. And just three months ear­lier, the guide ac­corded the same ac­co­lade to two hawker stalls op­er­at­ing in food courts in Sin­ga­pore. Chan Hon Meng, who owns one of those street- food venues – the Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noo­dle – will be cook­ing his Miche­lin star- wor­thy dish at Tiger Street Eats, a pop- up event at Por­to­bello Har­bour in Dublin 8 on July 20th- 22nd.

Tiger Street Eats is open to the pub­lic ( tick­ets, ¤ 10, avail­able at eventbrite. ie), and Dublin is the Euro­pean launch venue for the col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the beer com­pany and the chef. It was staged in Syd­ney, Auck­land, New York and Kuala Lumpur last Novem­ber and De­cem­ber.

Since his res­tau­rant was sin­gled out by Miche­lin, chef Chan Hon Meng has en­tered into a part­ner­ship with Hers­ing Culi­nary, a food and bev­er­age ser­vices cor­po­ra­tion, and is in­volved in a num­ber of out­lets serv­ing his chicken dish in Bangkok, Tai­wan and In­done­sia, as well as Sin­ga­pore. The rapid ex­pan­sion mir­rors the roll- out of of Tim Ho Wan, the Hong Kong dumpling shop that also won a star and is now rep­re­sented by 38 out­lets in nine coun­tries. Chan Hon Meng spoke to The Ir­ish Times, though an in­ter­preter, in ad­vance of his visit. What will you be cook­ing when you come to Dublin? I will be pre­par­ing my sig­na­ture HK Soya Sauce Chicken Rice. All the fresh in­gre­di­ents will be sourced lo­cally in Ire­land. I will pre­pare my braise sauce from scratch us­ing Asian herbs and will be cook­ing it ex­actly like how I do it in Sin­ga­pore. Where did you learn to make this Can­tonese dish, and what makes your ver­sion of it so spe­cial? I learned it from a Hong Kong chef. Over the years, I tweaked and per­fected the recipe my­self to suit the lo­cal taste and pref­er­ence. It is slowly braised at the right tem­per­a­ture with a mix­ture of Chi­nese herbs and spices that is unique to my hawker stall. How many chick­ens do you cook each day for the stall? I cook a to­tal of 90 chick­ens a day at my hawker stall and 190- 200 at the quick ser­vice res­tau­rant down­stairs. Peo­ple queue for up to three hours in Sin­ga­pore to eat your dish. How does that make you feel? I am very thank­ful for the long­stand­ing sup­port of my fans and cus­tomers. To me, it is a priv­i­lege to serve my hum­ble dish to them. I take ap­prox­i­mately five to six hours to pre­pare the food, from start to fin­ish. How did you feel when you were told you had won a star and when you went to the awards cer­e­mony? I was over­joyed, sur­prised and ex­cited; re­ceiv­ing a Miche­lin star is a very hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence for a hawker. I had never been to an awards cer­e­mony, es­pe­cially one that is so pres­ti­gious. How has your life changed since win­ning the Miche­lin star? My life changed com­pletely; many doors opened. I was ex­posed to many dif­fer­ent cul­tures, food and op­por­tu­ni­ties. Part­ner­ing with Tiger has brought me to places I’ve never dreamt of go­ing, such as Aus­tralia and New York. Do you still cook at the hawker stall? I cook at both the stall and res­tau­rant. I also check on the food qual­ity to en­sure that stan­dards are main­tained and only the best are served to cus­tomers. Is it a fam­ily busi­ness? Yes, I started Liao Fan Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noo­dles with my wife. I will pre­pare the dishes, chop­ping and cook­ing. My wife han­dles the ac­counts.

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