Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Hawkers Cuisine

Hawker's Cuisine on Urbanspoon
I thought I should introduce a little fact about myself.
I'm a girl. And no, I don't belong in the kitchen because I don't know what I'd do in there. Seriously.

So one thing you should probably know, is that even though I go nuts at the sight, smell, taste of food and all like, wannabe foodie, is that I wasn't blessed with ANY TALENT WHATSOEVER in the area of cooking. So yeah, I'm good for nothing besides stuffing my face.

That's why I'm not welcome at friends' cooking days, cause I sorta like, don't contribute to the cooking. I sorta lie around the kitchen waiting to eat. Then the end product served is less than intended cause I would have already stolen a lot of food during the cooking process too.
Taste testing along the way, you know?! I think they've unwillingly accepted me doing this.

I've always wanted to be well rounded with food, as in able to recognise it, to cook it, and least importantly to eat it of course.. but sadly, I fail so hard at it that it's not even funny. Or maybe I just don't want to admit to sucking. But hey, I'd be blogging about many, many - too many - restaurants, cause I'd probably starve to death in a house full of uncooked food.

I can cook some things though. Those being 2 minute noodles and eggs. And by cooking I mean making the egg no longer raw. Cause, well, the egg still tastes crap. And having said that, sometimes my instant noodles are wayyy overcooked. I swear 2 minute noodles are meant to be like 30 second noodles. Or maybe...I just don't want to reveal my other identity as a Masterchef. Ho ho ho

It's not like I don't try. The last time I tried to cut a carrot, I ended up staining the carrot blood red.
Blood red, because it was my blood. Oooh it sucked. Knives always end up biting me. And people probably don't fancy trying out stir fried human flesh and skin so I got booted out of the kitchen. Wise idea. I remember reactions to when I put frozen taro, into a plastic bag, into a metal bowl, into the microwave. They nearly killed me. It's great pretending to suck at cooking, cause then you don't need to move a muscle ;)

So in a desperate attempt to get me to start learning, the family has tried to set up a schedule, in which each family member is on a rotational roster to make dinner each night. Theoretically this is genius. However, when it was my turn, I cbf (couldn't be...stuffed). So I schemed. And I came up with the brilliant idea of convincing them to go out for dinner, their shout. Which I think is a muchhh better and thoughtful idea than cracking open some canned soup and spaghetti and treating them to a tinned dinner on my designated cooking night.

And I obviously succeeded - so this is how we ended up at Hawkers Cuisine.
So that is how I escaped my first night of being a masterchef, and how I also saved their ass from a horrible dinner. Voila, now you know the story of my life.

Man, I just got full from talking. Onto the food now, shall we?

Golden Prawns
No words. Just lots of saliva and excitement comes out of nowhere when I think of this dish. Big plump prawns coated with a light crisp magical batter that literally melts in your mouth, along with salted egg yolk crumbs. Oh man. Ohhhh maaan. OHHH MAAANNNNN!!!!!

You definitely cannot stop at one. Or two. Or three or four or five. You'll probably want to order another dish of it in that same sitting. It's savoury, it's rich and buttery and it feels like you're eating a golden waterfall. I don't know what heaven tastes like but it probably tastes like heaven. If they served these in heaven, I'd die right now.

Pssh. Of course I'll be going to heaven! :P

Fuzhou Tofu
Next up, we ordered a brick. A very delicious golden brick smothered in delicious stuff. Deep fried homemade tofu topped with minced pork and preserved radish sauce is what it really was. And it is quite similar to the adored Japanese silky smooth tofu but with thicker skin.

I'm not sure what the "radish sauce" is all about, I couldn't really taste the specialty in it. The sauce includes the mince, dots of chilli everywhere and the little ingredient which makes everything taste better - mini cubes of fried pork fat. So crisp and fragrant and everytime you come across one there's a burst of flavour in your mouth that tastes soo good =p

I deem it as a brick because of its presentation. Its literally just a big slab of tofu on a plate and you sorta just rummage through and destroy its perfectly shaped body with a spoon. Its just like jelly wibble-wobbling on a plate - except its a savoury, slightly spicy jelly.

Bakar Fish
Mmm, this is another Hawkers specialty that we feel compelled to order everytime. Once you're hooked, there's no turning back really. So it's a good thing that we're hooked onto a good thing!
The Bakar Fish is the "fish of the day" served on fresh banana leaf and grilled with sambal sauce. Now it looks like a plop and messy and like someone just spewed their dinner on it, but sometimes the ugliest things are the most delicious. You know, like, don't judge a book by its cover type thing. You can never ever ever judge food before you taste it. NEVARRGHHH.

I forgot what type of fish we got, but it was good. They slice it open and beat the hell out of it to flatten it a bit so it appears really big. The flesh was smooth and flaky and all the different additions made it really flavoursome. Sambal sauce is typically stinky and ugly but its flavour is really strong and turns the dish into a plate of YUM. The meat was a bit annoying in that it didn't come off easily and crumbled from the chopsticks that tried to pry it away from the bones.

A little messy to eat and frustrating to eat (for me anyway), cause you need the patience to refrain from wolfing everything down (which is what I do...). I learnt the hard way when I was little and had a fish bone stuck in my throat for a few hours, and made me avoid fish for a few months. Luckily, I've learnt to pick myself up and now, fish is one of my favourite foods :)
Lesson for the day: Learn from your mistakes!


On the other side of the well known Billy Lees in Perth's "China Town", is where Hawkers is situated along with the many other Chinese restaurants. It's more like just a square of restaurants and you can't miss it, cause the entrance is lovingly adorned with rubbish bins and the stench is ridiculous. But a few more steps and you are then greeted with the more inviting and familiar smells of Chinese cuisine. Still intertwined with the bins however, so you get a bit confused to what you're actually smelling.

The restaurant is visibly and noticeably busier than the other eateries that lead up to Hawkers and it does get a bit awkward as you walk past all those other shops with staff eagerly inviting you to become their customer instead of Hawkers. They must be used to getting rejected, sadly.

I must say I do not have much fate with Hawkers as everytime I am craving their cooking, it's closed. It's either closed, cause we're too late, or it doesn't open on Mondays (or something), or they've gone on holidays. Damn! I swear there's been so many times where I've ended up elsewhere because these guys are closed.

That's not to say they close early though, they close pretty damn late, late here in the context of 1am/2am ish, and that's DEFINITELY late. But, compared to the adjacent restaurants who seem to have owners and staff who don't seem to need THE BEST THING EVER called sleep, Hawkers closes early, because the other guys close at 4am.

They offer a really good selection of homestyle dishes and I don't think I've come across a bad dish here. It does get annoyingly busy though (but good on them!) and it takes ages to wait for a table, especially during peak eating hours. Everyone sorta hangs around outside or stands at the doorway or stands next to the fish tank staring at the mundane creatures inside, which stare straight back at ya. Seafood always seem to be full of hate and angry facial features, but you would be too, if you knew you were being bred to be fed to others.

But when you do get a table, the food comes out amazingly quick, despite the hoards of other customers. There's upper level and lower level seating indoors, as well as an outdoor wooden patio area holding a few heaters to heat things up in there =p Service here sure is efficient and quick, but so efficient that you get the impression the staff don't give a shit about you. A...cold, very cold sort of feeling. This very polite gentleman even shoved apart another person and me, to create some distance so he could put down tea and bowls. Excuse me?

Consequently these bowls were hurriedly distributed out to each person, or more accurately, banged and thrashed out to each person.
No wonder why so many Asian restaurants bowls and plates are chipped.

Updated: 12th February 2013

The lovely consequence of everybody being too can't-be-assed to cook dinner.

Taro Chicken Claypot
Mum and I love taro, and asked for more taro and less chicken in this pot. They politely obliged, but we will never know if the amount is the same or not haha. The chicken pieces are chunky and still on the bone, and are cooked in a broth with taro, sliced chinese sausages, garlic and ginger.

A very homely dish.

Bakar Fish
Like a broken record, we order this on every visit. Sure it's repetitive, but we never tire of it!

This time round however, was a let down. We chose the stingray to be grilled on this occasion, but the flesh was tough, chewy and was hard to pry off the bone. The piece of fish was also quite blackened in some spots, which gave it an unpleasant bitterness and gritty residue.

Beef Kai Lan
Our philosophy goes that it's always a bit "empty" to order a vegetable dish with JUST vegetables, which is why I don't think I could ever be a vegetarian.

We wandered over to the "Beef" section of the menu after scanning through the "Vegetables" section and settled with this; beef fillets stir fried with coarsely chopped leafy kailan vegetables. The greens are just cooked, and stalks still crunchy, perfect for the rabbits in my family who love to chew.

Rainbow Tofu
Rainbow Tofu is a cute dish name, and seeing those 2 words together actually makes me imagine fluffy unicorns. Hawker Cuisine's homemade tofu dishes are always very tasty so I had no doubts on trying something new and intriguing.

It arrived as a tofu brick in a shallow plate, immersed in a thickened liquid with a scattering of diced carrots, corn, peas and mushrooms with prawns, squid and fish pieces. It was a little bland, so I think I'll stick with the drier versions of their tofu.

Update: 20th December 2012

Sorry for the disgustingly blurry photos, graduating tends to make me shaky all over!

Bakar Fish - Seasonal Price
A choice of fresh daily fish on a banana leaf grilled with sambal sauce.
Can be quite hot, but it is that exact bitey taste that keeps you wanting more.

Superior Seafood Claypot - $26.80
Lightly simmering over a gentle candle is a small but full metal bowl filled with deep fried egg tofu, stewed together with large prawns, scallops, fish fillets, squid and vegetables including mushrooms, broccoli, baby corn and carrots.

Salt & Pepper Pork Rib - $16
With a mild chilli undertone, these deep fried pork ribs tossed in salt and pepper are popcorn chicken-like addictive.

Hawker's Tofu - $12.80
Hawker Cuisine's rendition on the normal tofu is this delicious deep fried homemade tofu, heavenly silky golden strips ladled over with oyster sauce and served with vegetables.

Rendang Beef - $16
Also remaining heated over a flame, these beef cubes cooked in a thick coconut curry sauce are a saucier edition of beef rendang, topped with fried shallots and cut chilli.

Supper at midnight is gorgeous :)
So is graduation, a prized piece of paper I can now frame up and a disgusting HECS debt.

1 comment:

  1. Today I had some awesome bread that you buy at the supermarket and then you bake it yourself. Had sundried tomatoes and chives.. or something.. I can't remember.. but the inside was so soft like a pillow of goodness xD


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