So what’s the fuss about street food? Is it the walk down memory lane or that mere fact that the sweaty palms and atmosphere around the carts makes it nearly impossible to replicate street fare in your own kitchen?
Whatever the reason maybe, I personally have fond memories attached to my childhood eats. And if one can discover good old street food in town, what more could you desire? So here’s to childhood nostalgia. Let’s take a look at Hawker’s food on Mills’ Avenue.
Hawkers Asian Street Fare opened recently on Mills Avenue inhabiting the same space where the Chinatown Seafood Restaurant and Market stood. I did research the reviews before taking a ride to Chinatown, but nothing prepared me for what I experienced past the big burlesque wooden doors, an ultra modern and minimalist interior. My brain needed time to adjust my aesthetic scales since it felt like I was sitting in a young and hip restaurant most commonly seen in NY or DC. Aside from the food on the table, the only other reference to Asian influence in the restaurant is the tabletops that are laminated with local Asian-language newspapers.
I have had the luxury of traveling to South East Asia on numerous occasions and took an instant liking to the street food. It is a culture in itself and if you think about it, after a late night drinking session, a bit of carbs certainly helps you sustain the copious amount of liquor consumed. Envisioning similar concept, Hawkers Asian Street Fare offers an impressive selection of beers including microbreweries.
If you have a fondness for South Eastern Food and relish the layers of spices signature to the cuisines; be it Vietnamese, Malaysian, Thai, or Indian, you will certainly feel like a kid in a candy store. The small plate options offers you the choice to sample variety across borders leaving your taste buds exploding with flavors, fit for any budget.
The staff was attentive and friendly, as to be expected from a restaurant of this caliber.
We ordered a bit of everything from each section. Roti Canai – was right on the mark. It tasted exactly like I recall the curry we gobbled in Malaysia, light, fragrant and highly addictive. (Incidentally, for all those people who can’t get enough of the parathas, they are readily available in any Indian/south-east grocery store in the freezer section). The Malaysian Prawn Mee too held its Malaysian roots close, extremely comforting and flavorful. (Though the ones we had in Malaysia had quite a bit of kick in their broth).
The Papaya Salad was fresh, delectable and beautifully presented. The same can be said for the Chilled Sesame Noodle Salad. I have an obsession for them and continually have been disappointed since my NY days. These were perfectly cooked, great sesame flavor and the cucumbers in the presentation raised the bar on this simple salad.
The Chicken Pot Stickers one could immediately tell were freshly made. It is quite an achievement at such a bustling place. A bit on the doughy side but the freshness and the dipping sauce makes it hard to resist. The Five Spice Calamari was lightly fried and crispy. I expected a bit more kick to this dish though. The Vietnamese Banh Mi (Korean Bulgogi Beef) was tender, combined with the pickled cucumbers and cilantro brought such freshness to the sandwich. (I am hooked).
The Fried Green Beans were to my surprise, lightly fried, ultra crunchy, and wonderfully seasoned. The extensive vegetarian assortment and bold flavor was impressive enough to tempt even omnivorous eaters likes myself to venture on the grassier side.
I left the place with mixed feelings. A tiny part of me missed the hustle and bustle of the Malaysian/Singapore streets nudging elbows with strangers on the other hand a large part of me truly appreciated the freshness of the food and elegant atmosphere created by Hawkers. Either ways, Hawkers has been highly successful in their attempt to not only bring the streets to you in an unexpected modern touch; it offers a taste of South East Asia which stays close to their authentic roots. The reasonable prices; extensive assortment of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options; freshness of the food; location guarantee that all ages and cultures will leave with happy bellies, wanting to come back soon.