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Singapore’s Michelin-star soy sauce chicken rice comes to Ipoh

Malay Mail logo Malay Mail 15/3/2019 John Bunyan
a man holding a sign: Chan Hon Meng outside the first Malaysian outpost of Liao Fan Hawker Chan in his hometown of Ipoh. — Pictures by Farhan Najib © Provided by Malay Mail Sdn Bhd Chan Hon Meng outside the first Malaysian outpost of Liao Fan Hawker Chan in his hometown of Ipoh. — Pictures by Farhan Najib

IPOH, March 15 — While there are many versions of chicken rice out there, Singapore-based Liao Fan Hawker Chan’s chicken rice is the only one to ever be awarded a Michelin star.

And now Chan Hon Meng, the Ipoh-born chef of that famous Hong Kong soy sauce chicken rice, has brought it to his hometown.

“I know there are many chicken rice shops here, but I’m not here to compete. I want the people here to try my version of the dish which has won the award,” he told Malay Mail.

Chan, who partnered with Hersing Culinary to set up the Liao Fan Hawker Chan, a casual dine-in restaurant, opened their first Malaysian outpost at Jalan Theater here on February 26.

a group of people sitting at a table: The first Malaysian outpost of the famous Liao Fan Hawker Chan is in Ipoh... the hometown of the chef! © Provided by Malay Mail Sdn Bhd The first Malaysian outpost of the famous Liao Fan Hawker Chan is in Ipoh... the hometown of the chef!

Chan received international acclaim in July 2016 when his chicken rice stall became the first of two street food stalls to receive the Michelin star award.

“I did not know who or when the officials came to try my food. I only know about the award when I got the invitation from them,” he said.

The 53-year-old chef, who is from humble beginnings, said that he went to Singapore in 1988 to look for a job after the hawker stall in Ipoh where he was working closed.

“I worked in several hawker stalls and restaurants in Singapore. However, I learned to cook this dish from a Hong Kong chef at a restaurant. That is why the dish is called Hong Kong soy sauce chicken rice,” he said,

a person holding a plate of food: Chan Hon Meng with his famous Hong Kong soy sauce chicken rice. © Provided by Malay Mail Sdn Bhd Chan Hon Meng with his famous Hong Kong soy sauce chicken rice.

He started his chicken rice business in 2009 at the Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre-based in Singapore; it became a hit among the locals fairly quickly.

Nearly three years after receiving the award, Chan has expanded his business by opening branches in Taiwan, Philippines, Australia and Thailand.  

“What makes the chicken unique is that instead of dressing it with the soy sauce after cooking as how the normal chicken rice would be, we add the soy sauce in the marinade together with 10 varieties of herbs and braise it.

“The chicken does not need any soy sauce dressing when it’s served. We also serve sauteed soy beans together with the dish, which adds more texture to it,” he said.

a group of people posing for the camera: And here are the famous braised chickens used in Liao Fan Hawker Chan’s chicken rice. © Provided by Malay Mail Sdn Bhd And here are the famous braised chickens used in Liao Fan Hawker Chan’s chicken rice.

“Also the reason why we serve the chicken with white rice is because we have a special sauce for it, so the rice does not require any seasoning when cooking,” he explained.

Aside from his signature soy sauce chicken, Chan’s restaurant also serves char siu (barbecued pork) and siew yoke (roast pork) which is best eaten with rice or noodles.

The self-service restaurant, which offers the cheapest Michelin-star meal in the world at the price of RM6.80, will have a grand opening here tomorrow.

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