Driving along East Colonial towards Mills Avenue, where there is a plethora of Asian style mom and pop restaurants, I began to wonder if I should forgo my intended destination and try one of these spots instead.
Some of the best meals I have ever had have been in rinky-dink spots where one might question if they are up to health code upon entering and this area seemed to be surrounded by these types of places. Hawker’s Asian Street Fare is a palatial monument among these other restaurants and I mean this literally. The outside of the restaurant and entrance give off the feel of entering an ancient Chinese palace. Luckily, the architecture was not the only impressive feature here; the food was nothing short of off the chain.
The shear breadth of the menu covers a variety of Asian culinary styles including Malaysian, Thai, Japanese, and Chinese. This means that you can find everything on the menu from noodle bowls to curries to skewered meats. On top of this the restaurant also has some impressive fusion elements like their tacos and bánh mì sliders. With all of these different items to look through you can only imagine how long it took me to place an order. After completing my meal though it was readily apparent that anything I would have ordered would have made this a memorable, delicious meal.
After much internal debate, I decided to begin with chilled tofu and roast duck tacos. I normally am not the biggest tofu fan; however, this tofu dish had a sweet soy sauce, fried garlic, and cilantro that when mixed together truly showed me what a great flavor sponge tofu is and how enjoyable its silky texture can be with an open mind. Now let me preface this and say that I am a believer that a tortilla shell is the perfect vehicle for any meal, so you can only imagine my bubbling excitement as I moved on to the roast duck tacos. The duck was undeniably tender, the vegetables were crisp and added a welcomed textural contrast, and the hoisin dipping sauce really rounded out the dish. Needless to say, I had the biggest smile on my face after each and every bite of that magnificent taco.
You might be asking yourself at this point, “How do you top a taco like this?” The answer lies with Malaysian prawn mee. For all of you familiar with ramen, this is essentially a Malaysian version of that. It was filled with egg noodles, jumbo shrimp, chicken, a boiled egg, bean sprouts, and yow choy (a green similar to bok choy). All of these components on their own were cooked to perfection, but the real star of that bowl was the spicy prawn broth. I can barely put in to words the depth of flavor they achieved in this chili oil laced liquid. The only possible explanation is that they kidnapped a master broth maker from Malaysia and he stands in the kitchen all day making and keeping a watchful eye on this concoction. At least that is my best guess.
For the grand finale of this already exceptional meal, I decided to go with a dessert I had seen on multiple food and travel shows that I had been itching to get my hands on. This mixture of powdered ice, pineapple, red bean mix, lychee, grass jellies, taro, sweet condensed milk, and different sweet syrups is known as ice kachang and it is one of the oddest dishes I have ever seen or eaten. Honestly, it resembled something from a Candy Land board game, but for all of its oddities it is absolutely addictive! The key is getting the perfect mix of each component to create the perfect bite and then one can understand why it is so popular Far East.
Do you want to hear the best part about this meal? It only cost me around $23.00 (not counting tip) for all four dishes! Hawker’s gives you the opportunity to eat delicious, well prepared food for a price nothing sort of affordable. Not only this, but their menu is friendly towards all culinary walks of life ranging from meat-centric individuals to those who fancy the greener, vegetarian options out there. I for one will be going back in the very near future to start my pilgrimage across the menu in its entirety. So head over to Hawker’s with your friends, have some drinks, some laughs, and enjoy the food they have to offer!
Address: 1103 North Mills Avenue Orlando, FL 32803, Phone #: (407) 237-0606. More information is available on Yelp.com.