After having a refined beautiful meal at Commis last year, the only fine dining restaurant in Oakland, I was eager to try chef James Syhabout’s casual restaurant.
Hawker Fare couldn’t be more different than Commis, a two Michelin starred restaurant serving only a tasting menu focusing on seasonal ingredients and produce. Hawker Fare, a Lao Issan eatery, offers Southeast Asian cuisine that chef James Syhabout is passionate about in a fun eclectic atmosphere. Items on the menu are meant to be shared family style and showcase traditional Southeast Asian dishes packed with flavor.These beans were freakin’ bomb. Tossed in a chili curry paste and unctuous little pieces of smoky bacon, there’s no excuse to not eat your green veggies. A vegetarian curry at its finest. This homemade penang curry is flavored with red curry, coconut milk, nutmeg, mace, and lime leaves then slightly sweetened with palm sugar. It’s decadent and delicious with chunks of tender pumpkin and zucchini garnished with basil. These beef short ribs are cut thinly and are marinated in coconut milk, turmeric, lemongrass, and garlic. It’s served with a slightly spicy peanut sauce and cucumber relish which compliments the meat. Som Tum is one of my favorite dishes and this didn’t disappoint. Crunchy fresh strands of green papaya tossed with long beans, tomatoes, dried shrimp, and peanuts in a delicious fish sauce vinaigrette flavored with lime, palm sugar, and chilies. It could have even been slightly spicer to my liking. These were the crispiest fried chicken thighs ever. Tossed in rice flour, which gives it the ultimate crunch, the chicken is coated in nam prik pao (a chili paste with dried shrimp) that amps up the flavor. Definitely get this. Poached chicken sounds bland as hell right? Well this was delicious! The chicken was perfectly moist, tender, and super flavorful served with a ginger and fermented bean sauce, cilantro, and cucumber. The chicken fat rice is super satisfying with each grain being coated in the chicken fat giving it a luscious texture and flavor. Highly recommend this. This little sundae was so much fun and tasty too. On the bottom there were red beans (definitely an acquired flavor) topped with silky smooth condensed milk soft serve, airy jasmine whipped cream, caramel, and puffed crunchy rice. A different take on a traditional American sundae but totally works.
Hawker Fare was so tasty and I really shouldn’t expect any less since chef James Syhabout is behind it. Overall my rating is a 8-8.5/10.