31 May, 2013

Food Article: Are Singapore hawkers REALLY not Michelin-worthy?

This blogpost is HFB’s response to Hungrygowhere article on “Are Singapore hawkers not Michelin-worthy?”.

HFB believed we all agree most hawkers hone only specific skills and dishes throughout their career, perfecting that one dish that crowned them as local heroes, while most restaurant Michelin chefs are constantly coming up with seasonal delights and adding new dishes to their ever-expanding menu, hoping to WOW every walk-in customer with their gastronomical fare – molecular or not.

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Having that badge of working in a fine-dining restaurant previously, HFB definitely appreciate the tons of hours put in to perfect every ingredient to a tee, every small details on the plating, every bit of sauce and dressing that goes on the food – all in the name of providing that so called “whole dining experience” that tickles your every palate – both sensual and visual – BUT charging you every bloody single $$$ that comes with it, of course!

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That being said, every darn bit of time and effort, blood and sweat was spent perfecting that one craft that made a hawker legend into who he/she is today. It is also not uncommon to hear hawkers waking up at 3am to start their shift, so as to satisfy the breakfast crowd queuing up way before the shutters are up. A hawker might not be jack-of-all-trades, but he/she can definitely be master-of-one. Much like how the celebrated Joël Robuchon once lauded our local fishmongers that they fillet their fish with such speed and dexterity. That is the beauty of mastery!

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Then it also boils down to the definition of “good”. What rocks HFB’s world may not be your cup of tea. Taste is always subjective. HFB might have tasted the world-renowned Nobu, Las Vegas (underwhelmed to say the least) recently, but inside his heart he was secretively craving for his bowl of Laksa or a plate of lard laden Fried Hokkien Mee and Char Kway Teow.

Michelin Guide

Ok, let’s just admit it now that the guide is not scaled towards hawker fare but restaurant setups. But HFB says forget about the coin, fork and spoon, price and comfort level!!

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According to the guide, below are what the star symbolise:
- One star: "A very good restaurant in its category"
- Two stars: "Excellent cooking, worth a detour"
- Three stars: "Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey"

So that being that, there are definitely hawkers in HFB’s opinion that is definitely worth a special journey (in true local food guide context “Die, die must try!!”). Hands up if you have ever heard of people driving from one end of our island to the other ulu part just for some hawker kick? Two hands up then if perhaps you are the one doing it.

So Who’s Better?

In HFB’s opinion, hawker food is similar to mummy’s cooking – no amount of stars accolade can rival that special place in our hearts. It is comforting, and the one thing that HFB misses whenever he is out of town – not the Michelin star meals.

But to put things to perspective, let him quote a friend who mentioned, “It's hard to say who's better, it's just different and as a glutton I want both.” Well said.

1 comment:

Kuek said...

Nicely written! Great post! =)

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