Hawkers Asian Street Fare in Jacksonville [REVIEW]
June 21, 2018
If you haven’t realized it yet, I love Asian food. It’s easily my favorite out of any cuisine, and I’d be perfectly content in eating it everyday. So what could be better than a restaurant serving small dishes/tapas from every type of Asian cuisine? Hawkers does just that. According to their website: “‘hawkers’ are street vendors who depend on locally grown ingredients to create dishes sold from mobile carts and stands.” So, they take some of the most popular “street food” around Asia and bring it here to us in Florida.
With the plates being small, we were able to order a wide variety of dishes to sample. However, their menu is pretty large, so another visit is a definite must. Between the two of us, we ordered the Char Siu, Roast Duck, Pork Belly Steamed Baos, Singapore “Chilli” Crab, Beef Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps, and the Hokkien Mee.
This Char Siu dish is a very basic dish composed of pork shoulder, sweet soy, and spring onions. And it’s delicious. The meat is very tender and the sweet soy gives it a great flavor. We both enjoyed this small plate and in my opinion, a great easy dish for some protein.
Another simple, protein rich dish on the menu is the Roasted Duck. It’s completed with hoisin sauce and spring onions. Hoisin is a thicker sauce with a salty and lightly sweet taste. Only one of us liked this dish (hint: I’m the less picky of the two). He said the duck tasted too game-y for his liking, but I didn’t have any problem with it. I think the sauce and onions paired really well and lightened the game-y taste, but there is a bit of game-y texture. So, it probably isn’t a dish for everyone.
Singapore “Chilli” Crab
Claimed as one of Singapore’s National Dishes, the “Chilli” Crab is a soft-shelled crab in a chili garlic sauce. At Hawkers, it’s also served with a fried bao bun. Now, this dish clearly isn’t the most eye pleasing, as it looks kinda messy. And if you didn’t order it, you probably couldn’t tell what it was. My expectations for the Chilli Crab were pretty low, but I really enjoyed it! The soft-shelled crab was cooked really well and not over-done. But my favorite part was the chili garlic sauce. It had a great flavor and was even better when you used the bao bun to soak up the remaining sauce.
Beef Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps
I’m pretty sure most people have tried lettuce wraps before. Most likely at P.F. Chang’s. Honestly, these weren’t too different. They have close to the same taste except Hawkers has beef bulgogi which I prefer. You can also order these with tofu, roast duck, or Satay chicken. I probably won’t order these again just because I like trying different, more hard to find things. But, they’re definitely good if you’re craving some lettuce wraps!
Also on Hawkers’ menu is a wide range of noodles and noodle soups. It was a really hard decision to make, but I went with something I’ve never heard of or tried before rather than the ramen that frequents my diet. The Hokkien Mee is an egg noodles dish with shrimp, chicken, char siu, spring onions, Napa cabbage, bean sprouts, onions, and carrots all mixed together with a dark soy sauce. Again, not the prettiest dish you’ll see, but who cares about looks when it tastes yummy?? I’ll admit this wasn’t my favorite dish I’ve had but it wasn’t bad by any means. Just a little too oily for my taste. If these noodles don’t sound like something you’d enjoy, they also have Pad Thai, Udon, and Curry Noodles to name a few.
Pork Belly Steamed Baos
Now, for arguably my favorite…the pork belly steamed baos. I don’t know what it is, but something about bao buns makes everything 10 times more delicious. You can order these with pork belly or roasted duck, and they come complete with cilantro, egg, roasted peanuts (very little), and pickled radish (or cucumber maybe). The only argument I’d have over these is to add just a bit more meat in them to give a nice bun to meat ratio. Cause those ratios are important!
Hawkers has something for everyone with the many, wide arrangement of plates to choose from. Some other popular dishes I want to try is the Roti Canai (Malaysian flat bread), Korean Twice Fried Wings, Korean Octopus Skewer, Kin’s Prawn Mee, and the Beef Haw Fun. Check out their full menu HERE. There are six locations around Florida, and Hawkers can also be found in Atlanta and Charlotte!