World’s Cheapest Michelin-Starred Meals: Street Vendors & Cheap Eats
Michelin stars aren’t handed out easily, and they tend to be associated with fine dining experiences and luxury establishments. That said, it is possible to enjoy a Michelin-starred meal without breaking the bank...or even without breaking out a $10 bill!
Discover the cheapest Michelin-starred meals in the world, ranging from street food stands to hole-in-the-wall eateries. All of the establishments below have been awarded one Michelin star, elevating them to the ranks of the world’s priciest fine dining restaurants.
1. Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle, Singapore
In 2016, Michelin shocked the culinary world by awarding a star to a street vendor for the first time. Located in a bustling open-air market in Singapore (often called a “hawker center”) is a humble food cart operated by chef Chan Hon Meng, known as Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle.
Every morning, chef Chan Hon Meng rises with the dawn and begins preparing his special braising liquid: a secretive combination of garlic, ginger, star anise, cloves, and other spices. This soya sauce recipe was inspired by a chef he met in Hong Kong decades ago, and is the basis for his famed soya sauce braised chicken, served with a heaping pile of rice or noodles.
For a 2-3 hour wait and just $1.50, anyone can enjoy the world’s cheapest Michelin star cuisine, prepared by “Hawker Chan” himself.
2. Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, Singapore
Also awarded its Michelin star in 2016, Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle is yet another unassuming hawker stand tucked away in one of Singapore’s busy food markets.
It was originally founded in the 1930s by Tang Joon Teo, who concocted the stall’s famed “bak chor mee” recipe: flat egg noodles and minced pork tossed in chili paste, black vinegar, and other ingredients.
Tang Joon Teo passed on the food stall to his three sons, and today it’s run by his second-oldest, Tang Chay Seng. Although the stand has moved from its original location on Hill Street to Crawford Lane, it continues to serve up its incomparable bak chor mee at low prices - between $4 and $8. Queues range from 30 minutes to 2 hours, so come early!
3. Raan Jay Fai, Bangkok
The newest street food-style spot to make the list, Raan Jay Fai was awarded a Michelin star in December 2017. At this small, no-frills restaurant with laminated menus, tiled walls and metal stools, you can watch chef Jay Fai herself prepare her famous wok-fired dishes in the open kitchen.
Day after day, the 70-year-old dons her ski goggles (to protect her eyes from the splashing, sizzling oils in her work) and churns out plates of scorching drunken noodles, crab curries, crab omelettes, and other Thai dishes.
It’s worth noting that a meal at Raan Jay Fai won’t come as cheap as the other spots on this list; certain menu items cost up to $20. But while the prices are high compared to the surrounding street food eateries in Bangkok, they’re low for the quality of ingredients and culinary skill.
4. Tim Ho Wan, Hong Kong
Before the two street vendors in Singapore were awarded their Michelin stars, this hole-in-the-wall dim sum eatery in Hong Kong was known for being the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant. But with most dishes ranging from $1 to $4, it’s still a close contender.
Tim Ho Wan was started by chef Mak Kwai Pui, a former chef at the Four Seasons in Hong Kong who wanted to take his dim sum expertise and apply it in a back-to-basics setting. The city now hosts several Tim Ho Wan locations, and three have been awarded Michelin stars.
When dining here, you can expect hours-long waits, shared tables, no-frills service...and the best dim sum that money can buy. Try the BBQ pork buns, steamed dumplings with prawns, sticky rice, wonton soup, vermicelli rolls and other dishes.
5. Tsuta Japanese Soba Noodles, Tokyo
Tucked away behind a bare-bones exterior is the world’s first Michelin-starred ramen joint. With only 9 seats, Tsuta stays busy day-in and day-out serving up their famed bowls of broth, noodles, and flavorful toppings.
Choose from four styles of buckwheat flour noodles, as well as salt or soy broth. Top it off with rosemary-infused BBQ pork, truffle oil, bamboo shoots, and a soft boiled egg for the full experience.
With a price tag of only $10, Tsuta has become so popular that they’ve implemented a ticketing system to accommodate the staggering crowds that want to taste their award-winning ramen.