Does Michelin know there's more to Singapore?
Moments after Michelin Guide Singapore released its 2016 Bib Gourmand list yesterday — the first ever for Singapore — people were throwing salt, pepper and chilli padi into the conversation.
Bib Gourmand is like Kelly Rowland to Beyonce. Good, beloved even, but, let’s get real, she ain’t the star.
Bib Gourmand is a list of places serving good food at a cheap fixed price (Singapore’s limit is $45).
By now, foodies will know that 34 eateries made the list, with 14 restaurants, 17 hawker stalls and three stalls in coffee shops (charmingly referred to as “other street food establishments”). (See full list here.)
My initial reaction to the hawker’s list was surprise.
Didn’t the Michelin inspectors know that the MRT went up all the way to Pasir Ris?
And how about popping by some famous stalls in the Old Airport Road food centre, or foodie haunts in the Katong area, or catching a bit of sea breeze with your food at East Coast Lagoon Food Village?
Sadly, not a single stall in the east made it to the hawker’s list. The listed hawker stalls — some excellent, some not bad, some overrated — are in food centres predominantly located in central Singapore.
Still, there were some encouraging ones: Chey Sua Carrot Cake (Block 127, Toa Payoh Lorong 1) and Balestier Road Hoover Rojak (Whampoa Market).
But the 17 listed stalls came from just 11 locations, with four in Amoy Food Centre, two each in Golden Mile Food Centre, Tiong Bahru Market, and Whampoa Market Place.
Can they be truly reflective of the rich diversity of our hawker food heritage, especially when some local favourites also missed out on the list?
Food blogger Derrick Tan (sgfoodonfoot.com) wonders why no bak chor mee (minced pork noodles) stall made the grade.
Desmond Chia of therantingpanda.com added: “Missing from the hawker’s list are Indian and Malay stalls. Where’s the nasi lemak and roti prata? I expected more diversity.”
The 14 restaurants listed are a better mix of Asian flavours.
I’m happy that Song Fa Bak Kut Teh got on the list because I’m a fan.
Ka Soh Restaurant at College Road also made the cut. It has been serving Cantonese fare since 1939 and it’s good to see it get a pat on the back. And True Blue Cuisine can always be counted on to wow.
But for such a food-crazy nation, having just 34 eateries on the list was almost insulting.
Six&Seven.com’s Jasper Aston Lim lamented: “Do we really have so few restaurants that can serve up good food at pocket-friendly prices?”
Now that the Bib Gourmand list is out, I am curious to see who ends up on the main list, which will be revealed on July 21.