You could, if you really wanted, put yourself on a six-month waiting list and pay the equivalent of a month's rent to dine on some of the world's most celebrated food.

You could battle for a table at Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck, or Noma, where the waiting list has stretched to three months, or Guy Savoy in Paris, where the set menu starts at a wince-inducing $700.

Or, you could add a day or two to your next stopover in Singapore and stroll into a hole-in-the-wall eatery serving the cheapest meal in the world that has a prestigious star from Michelin — and it's the price of a takeaway coffee.

Hainan chicken on rice: The Singapore speciality is a hot favourite. Photo / Getty Images
Hainan chicken on rice: The Singapore speciality is a hot favourite. Photo / Getty Images

Hawker Chan, a small restaurant in Singapore's Chinatown district, is on our list of surprising, and surprisingly good, places to eat and drink in a city already celebrated for its world-class cuisine.

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Even if you've been to Singapore, there are the hidden gems you probably missed — but which are more than worth a return visit.

Cheapest Michelin-starred food in the world

This humble restaurant Hawker Chan began as an even more humble food stall in a Chinatown market centre that still draws a mighty crowd, especially for its soya sauce chicken rice — a hearty, flavourful take on Singapore's iconic dish.

Hawker Chan, Singapore: One of the most accessible Michelin-starred restaurants on the planet. Photo / Supplied, Michelin Guide
Hawker Chan, Singapore: One of the most accessible Michelin-starred restaurants on the planet. Photo / Supplied, Michelin Guide

That's the dish that earned Chef Chan a coveted Michelin star. The price for this revered meal? $4.

Hawker Chan's sticky pork with noodles is just as good, maybe better, and for that you'll pay a mere $5.50.

The queue for the original stall can get punishingly long but if you time things right, you can beat the lunchtime crush at the offshoot restaurant, on a bustling Chinatown street just metres away.

The best part is the quick-service restaurant is as casual they come, which makes its receipt of the food industry's highest honour even more fantastic. Take that, Blumenthal.

Another Michelin-recognised hawker can be found at the bustling Maxwell Food Centre, also in Chinatown.

Hotly contested: Tian Tian in the Marwell food court; the best rice and chicken in singapore is a hotly contested topic. Photo / Jonas Gratzer, Getty Images
Hotly contested: Tian Tian in the Marwell food court; the best rice and chicken in singapore is a hotly contested topic. Photo / Jonas Gratzer, Getty Images

Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice earned a mention in the Michelin Guide and the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay have gushed about its eponymous chicken rice.

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Tian Tian wasn't open when news.com.au visited — but amusingly, its fierce rival Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice was.

Ah Tai was a student of Tian Tian until he audaciously shot off and did his own thing — one stall over from his famous mentor. They are now locked in a fierce rivalry, with Ah Tai's stallfront plastered with newspaper clippings talking up the vicious chicken rice war.

But as they duke it out to dish up the best food in Singapore, we'd say the real winners are the hungry diners.

Drink up: Beyond the Singapore sling

The Singapore Sling is another icon of this city, invented — and still poured — at the Long Bar at colonial stalwart Raffles Hotel.

But Singapore's drinks scene has flung a long way from the retro Sling. It's actually having something of a renaissance, with local and international bartenders working never-before-seen magic on cocktail menus the city over.

Atlas is the Grand Central Station of gin bars. Photo / flickr.com, ekyap
Atlas is the Grand Central Station of gin bars. Photo / flickr.com, ekyap

Insects are a surprising ingredient in drinks at Native, a Chinatown bar so impressive it came 13th on the most recent World's Best Bars list.

The brainchild of Singaporean mixologist Vijay Mudaliar, the bar draws on local suppliers and foraged ingredients for its inventive cocktail menu.

The current line-up is inspired by voyages through Asia and features seriously wacky ingredients, from actual grasshoppers and goat's milk to Korean kimchi and Balinese arak. (Don't worry — not all in one drink.)

The Strawberry kimchi, a Korean-inspired concoction of soju, kimchi, Korean citron and strawberry granita, is a sweet and spicy knockout.

Over in the city's Kampong Glam district is Atlas, which of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, may be the most enchanting. It came 8th on the best bar list.

The opulent venue, with a Roaring Twenties fit-out, is stocked almost to the ceiling with about 1000 varieties of mother's ruin, sourced from all over the world and served any which way you like.

Crazy Rich: The Singapore skyline comes alive at night Photo / Getty Images
Crazy Rich: The Singapore skyline comes alive at night Photo / Getty Images

Staff are especially excited about two new varieties on offer: the locally distilled Tanglin Gin (which has a couple of Aussies behind the brand) and Brass Lion, both of which launched last year.

Meanwhile, in trendy Ann Siang Hill, a nondescript door on a wall will lead you to Operation Dagger, an apothecary-themed speak-easy founded by Aussie Luke Whearty that came 23rd on the best bar list.

Like Native, the cocktails here are wildly experimental but easily drinkable. Two of the best are the Hot & Cold, an ice-cold, creamy cocktail topped with hot coconut foam, and the bar's signature, The Egg, which blends rum, vanilla, caramel and salted egg yolk.

Yeah, salted egg. Did you forget this was Singapore?

The late-late night attractions

Singapore is known for being so clean it's almost bizarrely spotless. But scratch that sanitised surface and you'll find a city that knows how to have a good time late into the night.

While Sydney is shutting doors on revellers before the evening's barely begun, Singapore is coming alive.

White Label Records is a new addition to Ann Siang Hill: a record store by day and a supercool bar at night, where music lovers can kick back and enjoy live music and DJ sets.

Posted by LuLu's Lounge on Saturday, 26 January 2019

Lulu's Lounge, a nightspot modelled after a retro NYC backstreet bar, is a little more raucous with its live jazz bands and burlesque shows. It stays open until the pearl-clutchingly late hours of 4am on a Wednesday and 5.30am on Saturday and Sunday.

But it's not just the drinking holes that draw crowds into the wee hours.

2am:dessert bar at Holland Village is exactly what it sounds like: a literal dessert bar that stays open to 2am.

Actually, it's just as much a restaurant, with table service and an extensive menu of decadent pastry creations by Singaporean dessert queen Janice Wong, who you might recognise from MasterChef Australia, and who has since brought the successful concept to Japan and Macau.

Cobohouse by 2am: dessertbar Hongkong is looking very good on soft opening month! #team2am #2amdesserts

Posted by 2am : dessertbar on Friday, 11 March 2016

We're talking decadent dishes like Cacao Forest, made with chocolate mousse, passionfruit chocolate, banana ice cream and lime and lychee consomme. And the Chocolate H20, a cocoa-lovers dream with 65 per cent dark chocolate, salted caramel and Kochi Yuzu sorbet.

Even more impressively, each dessert has a recommended drink pairing.

But one of the best things you can do in Singapore after dark is simply get on a bike and ride.

Let's Go Bike Singapore offers several sightseeing bike tours around the metropolis but there's no beating the Marina Bay Tour from 7pm to 9pm, where knowledgeable and friendly guides lead you around the spectacular bay.

The world-famous Marina Bay is breathtaking at any time of day but the views after dark, with buildings and attractions like Gardens by the Bay, the Singapore Flyer and iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel beaming in multi-coloured lights, is something else entirely.

There's almost no point stopping for photos along the way — they'll barely do the scenes justice. The biggest challenge is not being so dazzled by the sights you stop watching where you're cycling.

The writer travelled to Singapore as a guest of the Singapore Tourism Board.