Hawker and Roll
It’s not often I get too excited about going to an eatery attached to a shopping mall, but in the case of Hawker and Roll, just looking at the menu online had me salivating. And we weren’t disappointed. It tasted every bit as good as the descriptions, and left us eager to find a reason to get back to Sylvia Park soon.
Hawker and Roll is a Mayfare group restaurant (Fleur Caulton and Josh Emmett’s Rata and Madam Woo are, of course, already very well known) and I imagine branches will soon be popping up all over town. The fitout was very cool – South East Asian shabby chic with lots of greenery and plenty of bright colour, but without being gaudy. There were stools and low tables outside, bar height tables inside and a fun long table for bigger groups on the back wall.
We had to wait in a line to order at the counter as it was so popular; in fact it seemed far busier on that particular night than any of the other new eateries. We ordered Nasi Lemak ($10) with chicken wings on the side (an extra $6), a Beef Rendang Hawker Roll ($14) and a Malaysian Slaw ($10). All of them were great, but my favourites would have to be the Nasi Lemak and the Hawker Roll.
I can only assume the Hawker roll focus on the menu was derived from the popularity of this dish at Madame Woos, I know many people who go there just for those. Essentially there are seven flavours of filling that come wrapped in Malaysian style Rot; I was almost paralysed by choice as all the flavours sounded amazing (Pulled Sticky Pork, Spiced Dahl and Cauliflower and Roast Duck and Hoisin are just three examples) but went with the Rendang as I’m a sucker for a good one.
It was a good call as the curry was tender and the perfect spice level for me, the roti was buttery and soft and the addition of fresh salad garnish brought it all together perfectly to cut through any potential heaviness. The coriander, chilli and cucumber totally brought it to life.
While the Nasi Lemak varied slightly from what I’ve had in most Malaysian restaurants the alterations only served to elevate this roadside dish in this case. One of my biggest gripes about Nasi Lemak in many places is there are not enough of all the elements to mix in without scrimping (ikan bilis, egg, cucumber, peanuts, sambal). This version was super generous on all fronts meaning I wasn’t scraping to make each mouthful work. There were two half boiled eggs – many places only do one – and they appeared to have been deep fried quickly to add interest and texture. Wonderful. It was a little light on the sambal front but when I asked for more, the waitstaff were more than happy to oblige. The coconut rice was lovely too. If I ordered the Nasi Lemak again I may leave off the wings – while they were nice, there was a little too much sweet chilli sauce in the equation for me.
The slaw was a great complement to the spice in the rendang with its fresh combo of crispy noodles, cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots, peanuts and cucumber. It seemed quite Vietnamese to me with that lime, chilli dressing going on but I’m sure they make similar things in Malaysia. It definitely wasn’t as sweet as a Vietnamese Salad and worked well.
The drinks were as fun as the food with a couple of special Garage Project beers (made exclusively for Mayfare group), frozen cocktails such as a Pineapple and Lemongrass Mojito and great non-alcoholic drinks like Pandan and Lime Soda. All up it was a great experience – don’t wait till you need to go shopping to check this one out.