* 11 November 2013
A noisy and excited group of 8 headed to Hawker’s Cuisine in Northbridge for dinner on Sunday night. The restaurant only takes bookings at 6.30pm or 8pm in order to push through more tables, but we didn’t feel rushed even as we sipped tea or booze.
You can BYO booze for $2 per person, but don’t expect to be served any free tap water. Chinese tea is $1 per person so that’s the most economical choice, plus they have my favourite bolay cha. While the name Hawker’s Cuisine suggests Malaysian fare, the menu is standard for most Chinese restaurants.
Satay chicken ($1.50 per stick)
We mostly ordered the Cantonese-style dishes to share with rice ($1.50 per person), but started with chicken satay sticks. While the Malaysian satay sauce lacked the rich flavours that I was craving, the small chicken skewers were a golden brown and fragrant. We also dipped rice cakes, onion pieces, and cucumber into the peanut sauce.
Rendang beef ($16)
I love beef rendang when the sauce is thick, rich, and spicy. While this meat was tender, the curry tasted mostly of coconut milk and was not nearly as hot as expected.
Plain roti ($2.50 each)
We ordered three roti (bread) to mop up the rendang curry. The roti were crispy, soft, and not too oily. Yummy!
Hotplate tofu ($14.80)
Sizzling Japanese tofu is a standard Chinese restaurant menu item. The minced chicken, salted fish, and fried egg combo was not as flavoursome as other restaurants in China Town. Dunno how this dish turned out disappointing, but the thick sauce was not really exciting.
Sambal kang kong ($14.80)
One of my favourite “let’s-be-healthy-and-order-vegies” dishes is sambal kang kong. Sambal is prawn-based chilli that should be pungent and very spicy. Sadly, this dish also lacked the chilli punch that I look for in Malaysian dishes.
Marmite chicken ($16)
Marmite chicken is a really unusual and super-Westernised dish. The fried boneless chicken pieces were quite juicy inside and crispy outside. However, I’m not a huge fan of the one-dimensional salty flavour.
Pork belly with mui choy ($18)
My favourite dish of the night was the twice-cooked pork belly, which is stewed and then deep fried. The result of this labour-intensive process? Delightfully tender and fatty slabs of pork mmmmm. The rich meaty sauce included preserved mui choy (dried and salted mustard cabbage). The bok choy brought the dish back from feeling terribly unhealthy coz sometimes it’s nice to see some green in your bowl!
Golden soft shell crab ($21)
A mediocre version of my favourite soft shell crab dish. I could hardly taste the awesome salted egg on the crusty batter. Probs wouldn’t order this again from Hawker’s Cuisine. Sometimes it’s safest to stick to what you know, which in this case means my future visits to China Town will probably mean a return to my old fav, City Garden.
Staff were attentive and polite, which is a relief given the generally absent-minded service in China Town. Our dinner came to roughly $20 each and we all left with very full bellies. Good value, consistent service, and generally quite tasty food.
Likes: pork belly with mui choy, attentive service
Dislikes: no free tap water, sizzling Japanese tofu dish is below-par
Value for money: very reasonable
Overall: food is not really distinguishable from other spots in China Town
40 Francis St
(08) 9328 9668
12 April 2014
Hawker’s Cuisine has recently moved from China Town to 40 Francis Street in Northbridge. The premises are larger so hopefully bookings for busy Saturday nights will be easier!