SINGAPORE – The 2023 Bib Gourmand list sees a bumper crop of 79 entrants comprising 19 new awardees – 17 hawker stalls and two restaurants.
In 2022, only nine out of the 67 recipients of the accolade given by the Michelin Guide were new.
The eateries on the Bib Gourmand – picked by Michelin inspectors – offer diners value-for-money food priced at no more than $45 a meal. The category was created in 1997.
Among the new entrants this year were six stalls, three from Adam Road Food Centre and three from Geylang Bahru Market & Food Centre.
Those which made the list from Adam Road Food Centre are Adam Rd Noo Cheng Big Prawn Noodle, Bahrakath Mutton Soup and Selamat Datang Warong Pak Sapari, known for its mee soto and mee rebus.
The prawn noodle stall was closed when The Straits Times visited on Thursday during lunch time.
However, business was brisk at 50-year-old establishments Bahrakath Mutton Soup and Selamat Datang Warong Pak Sapari. Both stalls saw long queues during the bustling lunch hour.
Bahrakath Mutton Soup’s second-generation owner Syed Abdul Rahaman, 62, had heard from customers about the Bib Gourmand recognition.
The recipe for the mutton soup (from $7), prepared in a large copper pot, has not changed since his father set up the Adam Road stall in 1973.
In 2014, he added mutton and chicken briyani ($8 each) to the menu.
Mr Rahaman is also the chairman of the food centre, while Selamat Datang Warong Pak Sapari’s third-generation owner Sumadi Sapari is the vice-chairman.
Selamat Datang Warong Pak Sapari, which opens at 8am, sold out its mee soto and mee rebus ($4 each) by 1.30pm – the norm for the popular stall, says stall assistant Mohamed Aza Hari, 56.
Mr Hari, its first assistant back in 1974, was then working with Mr Sumadi’s grandfather. Mr Hari left the stall in 1985 and returned in 2021 when he reconnected with Mr Sumadi.
Mr Sumadi has been instrumental in developing the business since taking over the stall in 2014.
Five years ago, he started to manufacture soto paste packets, which are sold at the outlet for $5.50.
In October 2022, he opened a branch – under the Adam Road Mee Soto name – in Raffles Place.
In light of the Bib Gourmand news, Mr Sumadi, a former fibre optics engineer, said he saw a surge of customers there.
At that outlet, he gets more creative with dishes such as soto chicken rice ($8), where the rice is cooked in his rich mee soto broth.
He says: “We are always finding new ways of elevating the product. My staff will post on TikTok and it gets us younger customers.
“Now we have to maintain our place in the Bib Gourmand.”
Over at Geylang Bahru, the stalls Hui Wei Chilli Ban Mian, Spinach Soup and Cheok Kee – which specialises in boneless braised duck – got the nod.
Two stalls at Whampoa Makan Place hawker centre have also debuted on the list. They are Beach Road Fish Head Bee Hoon and Singapore Fried Hokkien Mee.
In Jurong, there are two new Bib Gourmand entries – tu tu kueh maker Du Du Shou Shi at Jurong West 505 Market & Food Centre, and Tai Seng Fish Soup at Taman Jurong Market & Food Centre.
Kwee Heng at Newton Food Centre made the list for its boneless braised duck, while Soon Huat at North Bridge Road Market & Food Centre was lauded for its prawn noodles.
Other 2023 Bib Gourmand recipients include Nam Sing Hokkien Fried Mee at Old Airport Road Food Centre, Yong Chun Wan Ton Noodle at 115 Bukit Merah View Market & Food Centre, and curry chicken noodle establishment Heng Kee at Hong Lim Market & Food Centre.
Two stalls, which were previously listed as part of the Michelin Guide, have been promoted to Bib Gourmand status.
They are Ji De Lai Hainanese Chicken Rice at Chong Pang Market & Food Centre and No. 18 Zion Road Fried Kway Teow at Zion Riverside Food Centre.
Meanwhile, the two new Bib Gourmand restaurants are no strangers to the accolade.
Popular zi char restaurant Kok Sen is considered a new entry because of its move to a different location in the same street, Keong Saik Road, in 2022.
The Coconut Club’s Beach Road outlet made the list, marking a return for the famed nasi lemak specialist, which dropped off the list in 2019 and 2022.
Six eateries from 2022 did not make the cut in 2023.
They are Famous Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa at Hong Lim Market & Food Centre, Hong Kee Beef Noodle at Amoy Street Food Centre, Jun Yuan House of Fish at Old Airport Road Food Centre and the now-defunct Tiong Bahru Yi Sheng Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee at ABC Brickworks Market & Food Centre.
Bar-Roque Grill at Amara Singapore and Unagi Tei (formerly known as Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant) in Keong Saik Road also failed to make the grade.
The Bib Gourmand release comes in the midst of food award season, which kicked off on June 8 with the announcement of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list of those ranked from 51 to 100.
The top 50 will be revealed on June 20 in Valencia, Spain.
Following this, Singapore’s 2023 crop of Michelin-starred restaurants will be unveiled at the Michelin Guide’s award ceremony on June 27 at the Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay hotel.