My first Michelin-starred meal abroad was at Restaurant Frantzen in Stockholm. In an ecstasy of born-again-foodie enthusiasm, I had requested a seat at the kitchen counter so I could perch within striking distance of the chefs and, as each artfully tweezed dish came out, assail them with questions, like paparazzi with machine guns for mouths. In retrospect, I don’t know how they tolerated me. The diner to my left wearily nursed a glass of red wine the whole night.
Not much seems similar between that experience and the one of eating at Hill St Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, which has seen its queue during peak hours double ever since it won a Michelin star in the inaugural guide to Singapore. There are no fine wines, no tweezers, no insufferable diners grilling the chefs. I suppose you could say that both restaurants have open kitchens, in a sense, and that watching someone toss noodles in vinegar is analogous to watching someone nudge reindeer lichen onto a plate—but that’s a stretch.
I doubt anyone expected the Michelin guide to confer a star on a hawker stall—the delight and outrage it inspired is reminiscent of public reaction to the Swedish Academy’s awarding of a Nobel Prize to Bob Dylan—and it leads one to wonder how the mysterious folks at Michelin do, in fact, give out stars, whether they’re just trying to counteract their reputation for elitism, whether they’re still important.
You can mull these questions over yourself as you join the snaking line of people awaiting a bowl of noodles. Just know that this is the ugliest Michelin-starred meal you will ever eat. I promise you will not care.
The Michelin guide did local frequenters no favors when it awarded a star to this bak chor mee (vinegar-tossed noodles with minced pork and liver) stall in July 2016. Peak hours can see patrons waiting in line for easily over an hour, so avoid the noontime crush if you can. Noodles, dry or with soup, are served in incrementally larger sizes, but the largest bowl is easily manageable for a normal appetite. The Michelin star certainly wasn’t awarded for decor or service, but at ten bucks a meal, this is about as affordable as it gets.
466 Crawford Ln, #01-12, Singapore
Around 10 SGD per person