Food & Drink

There's Only One Man Who's Bringing All These Michelin-Starred Franchises to Manila

Meet his newest venture, Hawker Chan, from Singapore.
IMAGE Kai Huang
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After Singapore hawker stall owner Chef Chan Hong Meng was awarded with a Michelin star, he went back to work the next day to serve up his famous soy chicken and noodles to hungry customers. The Malaysian chef was surprised to find not only a long line that was thrice the size of his already-large fanbase, but also a lot of corporate representatives from the food industry wanting to bring his brand out of the tourist food market hall.   

One of those interested parties was Foodee Global Concepts, and it was one of the few who emerged from these meetings with the express permission to offer the prized recipe elsewhere in the world. “I asked him about what made him choose us, and he replied that it was because one of our partners was the one who approached him directly. He says that other companies sent representatives, such as their business development head, product development head, or vice president for acquisitions. He was able to decide because of that,” shares Foodee Global Concepts CEO Rikki Dee.

This opportune meeting has now led to the opening of Hawker Chan at the Mall of Asia, where they have geared up to serve Chef Chan’s simple but delicious dishes that can be enjoyed on the fly. It follows the same Hawker Center stall’s credo of cheap and fast but filling food, where they sought to keep prices at a very affordable range. As eatery is known for being the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world, the best-selling soya sauce chicken rice, is offered here at P128. The soya sauce chicken noodle is at P158, and if you would like to order a chicken and roast pork or pork rib combo, it will only set you back by P270. If you simply want to take out a whole chicken, it goes for P598.   

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Hawker Chan in Singapore is known for being the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world. IMAGE: Kai Huang

They're famous for chicken, particularly a soy sauce-rich version that can be paired with either rice or noodles. IMAGE: Kai Huang

To keep to the authentic flavors of the Singapore hawker meal, they took great care to source their ingredients, starting with the chicken that has to weigh the prescribed amount of 1.5 k. Dee explains, “We had a hard time looking for a supplier, because what we usually have is only 1 to 1.1 kg. We need it to be at 1.5kg so that the skin won’t break when we cook it.”  

The interiors, which had to pass approval from the Singapore office is meant for casual dining, with indoor dining at about 30 pax and chairs and tables for 50 more outside the store to accommodate a crowd looking for an uncomplicated, yet flavorful meal that satisfies.

Quality is important, and the Dees are particular with their ingredients. IMAGE: Kai Huang

IMAGE: Kai Huang

Another strength that Foodee Global Concepts brings to the table is their longevity in the food industry. Dee started out with a restaurant that specialized in fish head dishes along Pasay Road, before they ventured out into the food court with Chin’s Express that is set to celebrate its 30th anniversary. From then on, they have branched out into several segments of the market.

It is a diverse portfolio: Their industrial account maintains a canteen concession at an industrial park that feeds 15,000 to 20,000 employees, they have homegrown and acquired concepts such as well as Todd English Food Hall, Pound by Todd English, Hook by Todd English, MESA Filipino Moderne, Sunnies Café, Llaollao, and Bench Café.

In the same category which he calls aspirational and accessible brands, they have Kam’s Roast, Tim Ho Wan, Butao, Foo’D, and now Hawker Chan. Dee talks about how they choose which brands to bring in. “First and foremost, we have to like the food, we have to see that the value for money is there. Otherwise, we do our own and that is why we have some local brands.” Not everyone is on board with being brought in too, he says that there is also a hit and miss ratio. “We applied to about 20, and we got around seven. The reasons are–some already have prior commitments, others are not yet ready to come to the Philippines and others are asking for high rates,” he explains.   

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With Hawker Chan, as with the other brands they carry, he says that the recipe for success is good value from a good brand and good taste all put together. “I think the Filipino taste is already advanced because of all the exposure to different kinds of food, but of course, price is always a consideration. The advantage of bringing in a brand that already has a recognizable name is that you don’t need to introduce it anymore.” He shares their secret to success in an increasingly growing food industry. “The way we can stand out from competition is that we are passionate about food quality. When you care about the food that you are serving to your customers, the rest will follow.”

Hawker Chan is at the G/F Entertainment Mall at SM Mall of Asia Complex.

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