Here at Yakhuset we are always looking for ways to enrich our culinary awareness, regardless of the source. Many an hour has been spent drooling over recipes being prepared by the legion of Food Network™ Stars, some of which have even made it to the Yaktable. Reconnaisance missions (to local restaurants) also provide us with ideas.
Hence, a lucky drive-by sighting of a new eating establishment (Hawkers) in the historic Five Points neighborhood of downtown Jacksonville a week ago called for a reconnaissance in force this weekend. So Yak 6 and I met the Bear (younger son) there at 1pm this afternoon. Hawkers Asian Street Fare opened eight days ago and the word has obviously gotten around since we had to wait 25 minutes for a table. Hawkers are street vendors (food) in Asia and that’s what this restaurant specializes in. It reminded me of Singapore’s melting pot of different cultures and foods, with dishes from China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand. It proved to be worth the wait!
Instead of large meals, they focus on smaller servings (think tapas as a comparison) which allows for the tasting of a variety of dishes in a single setting. We ordered the following dishes:
- Hawker Wings (grilled, with Sweet Thai Chili sauce)
- Grilled Hawker Skewers (beef and chicken)
- Roti Canai ( Malaysian flat breads served with their signature spicy curry dipping sauce)
- BBQ Pork “Char Siu” (roasted pork tenderloin lightly basted with an Asian BBQ sauce)
- Pad Thai Noodles (they simmer it for six hours before stir-frying it with shrimp, chicken, vegetables and red chili peppers)
Both the wings and the skewers were grilled over wood coals and they were outstanding! The Pad Thai dish was an excellent example of its kind, but if you don’t like or are allergic to shrimp, you might want to ask if they can do it without. We were also pleasantly surprised by a complimentary order of their Southeast Asian Chicken Curry, which was outstanding!
Trying to determine which of the above were our favorites was tough, but we agreed we preferred the chicken skewers over the beef. The Roti Canai was an extremely pleasant surprise – it was like a flat croissant that melted in your mouth. Excellent without the dipping sauce, it was even better with it (it went well with the Southeast Asia Curry sauce as well)
The Bear ordered Vietnamese coffee and Yak 6 ordered their Thai tea, both of which were very good. Later we shared both their flan special and their Rodi desserts. Although we liked both, the Roti and ice cream, dusted with cinnamon was the clear winner.
We were very impressed with the quality of the food, service and atmosphere – it made for a perfect Saturday afternoon meal. Prices were reasonable, with most dishes in the $5 range. Yelp reviewers (21 of them) have given Hawkers in Jacksonville a 5/5 star rating – and we couldn’t agree more!