Located just down the Windsor end of Chapel St is Hawker Hall, the newest edition to the growing number of hip new restaurants in the area. When I first heard that the Lucas group was yet to open another restaurant, I was ecstatic. After all, I had been to both Chin Chin and Kong BBQ before and enjoyed the food for both. Like its siblings, Hawker Hall is a walk in only restaurant where booking is available for only groups of 6 or more. But unlike its older brothers and sisters, the open high ceilings and spacious floor plan is able to accommodate a lot more people.
Hawker Hall is a great place to chill and relax for a casual meal and a couple of drinks with your friends or work mates. Like Chin Chin and Kong BBQ, the food at Hawker Hall is made to share. The food here is cheaper and portions are smaller, which makes it easier to try a lot of different dishes without over stuffing yourself.
The atmosphere at Hawker Hall is funky, hip and has such a great vibe to it. The menu is quite accommodating to vegetarians with a decent selection to choose from the menu and staff were more than helpful to highlight all the vegetarian options available.
I’ve been here a couple of times first on a Wednesday afternoon and the second time on Sunday, so the images taken are compiled from both my dining experiences. On the Sunday when my colleagues and I went, there was even a DJ playing music live in the background we all thought that made it that much cooler.
On both occasions, we started off the meal with a couple of drinks.
Coconut crush $14.00
Frozen young coconut with watermelon, pineapple and added rum
I cannot rave enough about this coconut crush cocktail. I won’t lie, I have a weakness for anything that contains coconut juice, watermelon or even pineapple. And when you take an otherwise healthy and refreshing drink with a bit of alcohol in it, you get refreshing sweet drink with a kick to it.
Oh and I completely missed out on the fact that they had a jackfruit cocktail as well which I will be sure to try next time I pop by, since jackfruit is my all time favourite tropical fruit.
Hand pressed sugar cane with ginger and pineapple $7.50
My friend ordered the sugar cane drink with ginger and pineapple which was equally nice but surprisingly not as sweet. The ginger with its peppery sweet pungency, toned down the overall sweetness to create a mulled like taste.
Fragrant curry of chickpea and vegetables with cumin yoghurt $12.00
This vegetarian chickpea curry had a nice creamy texture and subtly sweet taste. Pieces of shredded coconut are mixed through the curry to give contrast to the creamy textures. My only complaint would be that I would have liked a little more rice to eat with the curry.
“CKT” Char Kway Teow $14.50
Rice noodles, prawns, lup cheong, smoky soy
You cannot go to Hawker Hall without at trying their take on the classic Malaysian stir fried rice noodle dish. Hawker Hall’s char kway teow gives the classic rice noodle dish an interesting twist with its smokiness but if there was something both my friend and I agreed on was that there was either just too much salt or not enough rice noodles to balance the flavours out.
The dish was overloaded with prawns, lup cheong and soy which all have their strong unique flavours and in this case there was just a little much of everything happening all at once. Toning it done a bit with the seasoning or adding some extra noodles would have made it a much better dish overall.
Economy noodle $9.00
Combination of daily noodles with sambal
The economy noodles is like hodge podge of a noddle stir fry with no real identity of it’s own. It’s tasty and satisfying but feels like a conglomeration of leftover bits tossed together in a heated work. Having said that, I still preferred it over the Hokkien mee.
Hokkien mee $13.50
Hokkien egg noodles with pork, prawns, squid and sambal
The not so classic hokkien egg noddle stir fry was just slightly ruined by adding the tomatoes in. Everything else tasted good, but the noodles themselves were slightly chilled when we had them which was unusual. I like my noodles nice and hot, fresh off the wok please.
Gado Gado salad
Cabbage, beansprouts, sweet potato, tofu, egg and peanuts $9.00
This cold vegetarian salad was both refreshing and filling at the same time, which is something you don’t experience too often with salads. The combination of cabbage and beansprouts in a creamy dressing placed on top of a decently sized baked or steamed sweet potato with some mini pan fried tofu ‘steaks’ provides a healthy carbohydrate and protein balance. The first time we ordered this, the tofu was a little burnt (defined by it’s charred taste and being completely black on one side. The second time round however, it was a lot better, where it was only slightly charred.
Cucumber mint and shallot salad with cumin and yoghurt dressing $9.00
On its own, the cucumber salad could be described more as a side dish rather than a salad. Compared to the Gado Gao salad which is the same price, you kind of feel like you’ve been short changed a little considering how small it is. If we are comparing value for money, the cucumber salad is worth about less than half of what you get when you order the Gado Gado salad.
Five spiced shredded chicken salad with toasted coconut $13.50
This salad reminds me of something my mum would toss up at home when we have leftover chicken and Asian slaw ingredients. Served cold, the five spiced shredded chicken salad is a nice and simple coleslaw like salad. The creamy coconut sauce dressing was light enough so you could still taste all the individual components of the dish.
Nyonya style fried popcorn chicken $9.00 (left) and Char siu steam bun (2pc) $10.00 (right)
Not the best boneless fried chicken pieces or the best char siu pork steamed buns anyone of us has ever had. The chicken pieces were a little tough and the batter was quite ordinary. As for the char siu bun, I have had fluffier buns while the char siu seasoning did not quite hit that childhood rendering feeling of eating freshly steamed char siu pork buns when I was a kid. Kinda close, but still way off in a way.
BBQ chicken satay skewers with peanut sauce (4pc) $12.00
These BBQ chicken skewers were easily one of the best things you can order at Hawker Hall. Imagine very tender and juicy chicken pieces cooked just right, covered in a creamy peanut sauce. All that was missing was more of that satay spice kick and maybe a couple of beers (for the guys).
Banana roti with kaya jam (coconut jam) $14.00
My friend and I saw this a picture of the banana roti on instagram and knew it was something we had to try. The toasted roti bread and creamy kaya jam were really nice, however we all felt that the banana was a bit hard and dry. I’m not quite sure what kind of banana was used in this case, but it may not have been a freshly ripened one. Freelee would have not approved.
The food at Hawker Hall is served quite quickly so there’s no need to worry about waiting too long when you are hungry. Despite being quite new, the restaurant has picked up quite quickly considering how busy it gets on an afternoon between peak lunch and dinner times. So far, I would say that I’m be more inclined to come back to Hawker Hall for the drinks rather than the food. However if and when I’m in the area looking for a quick bite to eat, Hawker Hall would probably still be one of those places on my list to come back to. I can’t imagine their dumplings and buns to be their strongest selling points but their BBQ meats, stir fries and curries are something worth check out.