Everyone’s favorite spot for Asian street food in Jax, Hawker’s Asian Street Fare just launched their new menu. We’ve been a fan of Hawkers for quite some time so when they invited us out to their Riverside location for a sneak peek at the new menu items we couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Hawkers offers a wide variety of street fare from all over Asia at prices most Jax diners can afford to enjoy. While most of the time we try to make sure the places we’re eating out at are spots we’ve never tried before, a few personal favorites always sneak into the mix. Hawkers fits that description for us.
Each time we go to Hawkers we kick things off with some roti canai. Roti can be thought of as the Asian equivalent to biscuits and gravy. Simply put, Roti is nice flaky Malaysian flat bread served with Hawkers addictive house curry sauce. If I could start every meal with this I’d be a very happy fella.
The first new menu addition we sampled was the Tiger Salad- poached octopus, cilantro, carrots, green onions, celery and cucumber. The poached octopus on the salad was great. It was thinly sliced and tender. If you’re an octopus lover you’ll wish they delivered a plate of just poached octopus. In fact I wish they’d add a plate of just this octopus to the menu! This salad is spot on for the “yoga beach lady” crowd as my wife calls the company she keeps. It’s fresh and light and has plenty of flavor. However if you’re a meat and potatoes loving guy who doesn’t like herb-y sorts of salad you’ll probably want to pass because you’ll love the octopus but hate the salad it sits on.
The next new menu item we tried was the Crispy Chicken Skin skewers. I was extremely pumped to try these because one of my favorite styles of cuisine is Izakaya or Japanese BBQ. A version of this dish is a regular on izakaya menus. The skewers were fatty in the best kind of way, slightly spicy, finished with a bit of a charred taste. They were dusted with a Szechuan style seasoning. These were a solid representation of the dish but not quite on par with those I’ve had at Izakaya restaurants . They’re worth a try and you’ll likely thoroughly enjoy them.
The next addition to the new menu is the Nam nom rolls: rice paper wrapper encapsulates crunchy spring rolls lettuce, cucumber, basil, mint and chicken sausage, served cold. People often don’t realize that chicken dishes are frequently served cold in Asia. The chicken sausage patty had great flavor. Each of the components of this roll screamed freshness which we loved. In the center was a stick of fried batter/wrapper added for texture. We could have done without this component so after one bite we pulled it out and then the roll was great. I think a lot of American diners will have a tough time adjusting to the idea of cold chicken sausage but once you mentally make that jump this is an enjoyable dish.
Hashtags are all the rage these days and one made it on the new Hawkers menu as a menu item, the #DimSumCrunchyBalls! Crispy spring roll batter encapsulates a wonderful ball of shrimp and pork. This dish appeals to everything that is the American palette. It just screams fried goodness. I can’t think of anyone who won’t love it!
Next up was Yi yi’s chicken dumplings. Hand rolled in house daily these wok seared dumplings are sheer perfection. The outside dough of a wok seared dumpling in most restaurants in the US is usually rather unremarkable. This one has plenty of flavor and is wok seared just right. The meat inside is stellar as well. My dining partner who spends 6 weeks per year traveling all over Asia for business remarked that it was as good or better than any he’d had in his travels. That’s one hell of a complement.
One of the unsung heros of the Hawkers menu since they opened is the Wok Seared Lettuce. In fact I’m declaring it the most underrated dish on the Hawkers menu. When we visit a restaurant for the first time we always ask the server for their favorite items on the menu and we make sure to try those. On our first visit to Hawkers a few years ago when they opened our server suggested this dish and we’ve been ordering it every since. Lettuce never tasted so good! Just try it. You can thank us later.
One of the mainstays at Hawkers since they opened is the Pad Thai. We all know pad Thai so I won’t elaborate on this one other than to say it’s some of the better Pad Thai we’ve had in town. If you’re a Pad Thai fan we’ll be surprised if you’re not a fan of this Pad Thai.
The last main dish we tried was the Singapore Chilli Crab. Hawkers menu informed us that this is the national dish of Singapore. Soft-shelled crab is served up in homemade chili garlic sauce with a fried bao bun. I’m a weakling when it comes to spice so this was past my normal tolerance level. If you like things spicy you’ll enjoy this dish. The soft shell crab is pre-cut so it’s easy to share.
The last thing we tried was mochi for dessert. All 3 flavors we were served were really tasty and the mochi had a smoother, less gummy feel than mochi typically does. I’m not normally a huge mochi fan but still enjoyed this.
The new Hawkers menu offers lots of fun new flavors that will tickle and sometimes challenge your tastebuds. New flavors and adventurous menu items are one of the key factors in pushing a city’s food scene forward. Props to Hawkers for putting forward a new menu worth a try.
Note: From time to time we’re invited out to try a restaurant or to taste new menu items. This meal is usually comped, as this one was. We’re under no obligation to write a positive review or any review at all when we’re invited out to try a place. Every review you see on our site will be an honest review of the place whether or not the restaurant provided us with the meal at their cost.