34 eateries get Michelin nod for value
THE text messages came rapidly yesterday morning to the mobile phone of Arif Salahuddin, 55, owner of Bismillah Biryani in Dunlop Street and one-north.
They were from customers congratulating him and saying they were proud of him.
The bewildered man did not know what they were going on about until The Straits Times called him. He had been awarded a Bib Gourmand rating in the inaugural Michelin Guide for Singapore, to be launched next Thursday.
In all, 34 eateries were given the rating, half of them hawker stalls. Most of those on the list knew what the Michelin Guide was but were not familiar with the Bib Gourmand award. It is for eateries that offer good-value meals, which by Michelin's calculations is $45 in Singapore.
The list was released yesterday morning, ahead of the announcement next week of which restaurants here would receive Michelin's coveted one-, two- and three-star ratings.
Four hawker stalls in Amoy Street Food Centre - A Noodle Story, Famous Crispy Curry Puff, Hong Kee Beef Noodle and Hoo Kee Rice Dumpling - got the Bib Gourmand rating.
Zi char stalwarts JB Ah Meng Kitchen and Sin Huat Eating House in Geylang did too.
Peranakan restaurant True Blue Cuisine in Armenian Street and Indian restaurant Zaffron Kitchen in East Coast Road made the cut, as did Turkish and Mediterranean restaurant Alaturka in Bussorah Street and Peony Jade, a Cantonese restaurant at Keppel Club.
As soon as the Bib Gourmand list was made public, foodies were congratulating their favourite hawkers.
Ambassador-at-large Tommy Koh, who has been a judge for The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao Singapore Hawker Masters awards, told The Straits Times: "As a champion of our hawker food, I am pleased that the inaugural Michelin Guide Singapore 2016 contains so many of our favourite hawker dishes.
"I am pleased that two of the winners of the Singapore Hawker Masters competition, namely Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice and Hoover Rojak, are on the list. I am also happy that True Blue Cuisine and Sin Huat Eating House have been recognised."
Others said Singapore did not need foreigners to judge its street food and criticised the list for not being comprehensive enough.
Civil servant Wong Lok Oon, 62, said: "This list is not a good representation of our hawker culture. I don't see any Malay food stalls, and they have missed out good hawker centres such as Old Airport Road Food Centre, which has great lor mee and zi char, and Adam Road Food Centre for its prawn mee and nasi lemak."
But it was all sweet for Mr Arif from Bismillah who started his business 15 years ago.
He said of the text messages: "I thought it was all a joke.
"After all, we make only briyani, we are not a full-service restaurant.
"I'm not someone who puts out advertisements or does promotions so I'm glad for the recognition."