Hawker’s Cuisine is a Malaysian restaurant located in an alley among a cluster of other Asian eateries within Perth’s Chinatown. From what I could tell the suburb of Northbridge is somewhat like our Footscray; in other words, slightly dodgy but with plenty of good-quality Asian dining options.
I was a bit apprehensive when I found out Hawker’s didn’t take bookings, as I was going with a work group and wasn’t keen to stand outside for two hours, Chin Chin-style or wander around trying to find a suitable plan B. Luckily for us we turned up during a somewhat quiet period and only had a 10 minute wait.
Sambal kang kung
Kangkung, sometimes translated as ‘water spinach’, was always one of my favourite green veggies growing up (yes, I liked greens as a kid!). I always order it whenever I see it on a menu as I still don’t know where to buy it in Melbourne. (By the way, if anyone knows, I’m all ears!)
Here it was served simply in sambal. It wasn’t particularly spicy but had an unmistakable belachan aroma to it.
Thick slices of unctuous meat were served in a slightly sweet soy-based sauce with mui choy (preserved mustard greens). The fatty layers melted in the mouth perfectly.
I’m so used to Indonesian rendang that I forget how different Malaysian rendang is, and generally always find myself disappointed. Yes, a bit of bias here, but the Malay version always seems to be way too soupy and coconutty (does it really need shredded coconut considering how much coconut milk is in it?) and nowhere near spicy enough. This version was no different, unfortunately.
Soft shell crab with salted egg yolk
Crisp, salty and delicious. I enjoyed the little bits of yolk dotted throughout like flecks of gold. I wouldn’t have minded a bit more egg, actually.
I’d heard that they made their own tofu on site so of course I had to try it. I wasn’t sure how much my dining companions liked tofu but I ordered it anyway. I’m glad I did: it was silky smooth and almost custard-like in texture. To my surprise it was devoured pretty quickly by the rest of the table.
I don’t think anyone goes to Hawker’s without knowing about the Marmite chicken.
Boneless chicken pieces were fried until crispy and coated in a savoury sauce. The Marmite provided a perfect balance of salty and sweet with those characteristic yeasty umami undertones that are loved by so many. A few of the guys didn’t realise that it was Marmite chicken until halfway through dinner – you could pick out the Marmite when you knew it was there, but otherwise it wasn’t in your face. Very moreish and potentially addictive. Lucky I don’t live in Perth! (Just so you know, I’ve gone into this much detail about the chicken to convince Bob, a sworn hater of yeast-extract-spreads, to let me try and make this at home )
I completely forgot to keep track of prices here and they don’t have a website either (sorry!). I do remember though that the total came to about $120ish for the five of us, including rice and Chinese tea, which works out to 20 something per head. Excellent value for such good food.
You know they’re doing something right when people are lining up outside (on a Wednesday) despite there being a number of empty restaurants surrounding it. Go to Hawker’s and get the chicken.Hawker’s Cuisine 17/68 Roe St Northbridge, WA