As a Malaysian, I seem to get a lot of enquiries as to what I think about the newest addition to the Chris Lucas empire, Hawker Hall.
Rather than get overly complicated in my response, here are my main thoughts, that I tell pretty much everybody:
1. I think it’s awesome that Chris Lucas is giving Malaysian cuisine a contemporary platform; it’s always kinda been the very nice but much less cool sibling of the South East Asian cuisines.
2. From what I’ve had, the flavours are definitely inspired, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s authentic; nor did I expect it to be. I always knew going in that I wasn’t getting mum and pop restaurant, but a well oiled entertainment machine where you’ll bring your friends for a night out when want to drink in a great atmosphere, don’t feel like going to the club and want some tasty grub to go along with the booze.
3. Malaysians looking for super authentic Malaysian food, don’t go here. You’re wasting your breath when you complain later.
4. Anyone looking for a good time, willing to eat off hours, or wait two to get in, it’s worth checking out.
I myself opted for the eating ‘off hours’ when I found myself in the area for work on a Monday afternoon and head chef Damian Snell kindly reminded me that he was just down the road on Instagram when I shared a picture of another cafe I was at earlier in the day.
Even on a Monday lunch, the huge space is thumping, with a jovial throb of voices reverberating off the walls. The atmosphere did remind me a bit of a Malaysian hawker hall…just a lot cleaner, cooler and everyone looking a lot better dressed.
Whilst most of the crowd were big silly season groups, the restaurant very comfortably caters for single diners like myself, with cute little tables that pop out of the wall, overlooking the huge hall and everyone else. Great people watching.
The menu is huge; with lots of hawker favourites (char kway teow hello), some lesser known dishes (such as otak otak) and some slightly more modern dishes. You really don’t need to order much if you’re on your own, a serve of satays and a salad is a nice little lunch.
The beef satays were a touch on the dry side of me, but the rich spices and flavours were very reminiscent for me and I enjoyed them thoroughly.
I was surprised though how much more I enjoyed my salad, which was a five spiced shredded chicken salad with toasted coconut. It seems simple, but is so vibrant in flavour, I loved the mix of spice, sweetness of the coconut, and possibly some coconut milk through the dressing, which had a bit of a creamy texture to it. The crunchy beanshoots and a little hit of chilli. Would eat again, but might share next time, it’s quite a bit serve!
My only real complaint? No teh tarik. I mean c’mon.
But on the flipside, I can’t wait tot come back to try the Milo Dinosaur sundae, that sucker’s got my name all over it!
98 Chapel Street