Feeling the need to feed my semi-hipster soul Wednesday night before heading to UC Berkeley for Chhay Bora’s Lost Love film screening, I knew it was time to hit up Hawker Fare for a quick bite. I’ve never been to Commis, maybe I was never interested or figured it was out of my budget for a simple meal, but after hearing Commis Chef James Syhabout opened a street food type rice bowl only joint, I listed it right away as a spot to visit. Except it took me a year to get there, yes above all else, I am a prompt (end sarcasm here) blogger!
Hawker Fare occupies a space that previously housed his mother’s Manyda Thai Cuisine, on 23rd and Webster St. in Oakland’s up coming Uptown area. The walls have funky graffiti all over them, big windows along 2 walls and plenty of street parking makes this a hipster spot to see and be seen. In fact, my friend Sytha noticed a very cute boy 2 tables away from us, I was too busy digging into my Siamese Peanuts to notice him initially, as much as I love boy watching, good food takes my attention each and every time. Sorry buddy!
Let’s talk food, no fuss hawker street style. Whats hawker-style you may ask? Think simple Asian street foods, cooked quickly and smelling so amazingly pungent it draws a crowd in from the streets. I appreciate Hawker Fare’s simple one page menu of rice bowls (meats and rice with salad), starters and drinks.
We indulged in:
Green Papaya Salad – $7
Which was no spicy at all, I guess you have to ask for it to be? I didn’t get a chance to grab a picture of it and can’t remember why!
Chrysanthemum Ice Tea – $3
It was just ok, lightly sweeten with many little flowers floating around. I kept sucking them up into my straw and getting annoyed, so I ended up sipping from the glass versus the straw after a while
Siamese Peanuts – $3
SO YUM!!!! How do I explain this pungently salty crunchy assault on the senses? Roasted peanuts and tiny fried anchovies tossed in a sweet sticky pungent chili jam and fried shallots. I kept shoving them into my waiting mouth and sprinkled a few spoonfuls onto my rice as well.
Gai Yang – $9.5
Lemongrass chicken (not pictured) that Sytha thought was ok, but lacked any real depth of flavor
Issan Sausage – $9.5 + Egg $1.50 = $11
I was debating between this or the pork belly and I’m so glad I went with this spicy pork sausage flavored with coriander, garlic, lemongrass and chilies. It was delicious! Three grilled sausage squares with a savory chili glaze piping hot on top of greens and steamed jasmine rice. I added an egg, of course, we all know what an egg slut I am. My egg could’ve been runnier I realized as I mixed and toss everything together (with a few spoonfuls of the Siamese Peanuts) before digging in. Small detail but I’ll remember to ask for extra runny the next time I visit.
I was satisfied and can’t wait to come back. I hear their Kao Mun Rice is something to behold and of course, I need to try dessert also! Wow I just realized how long it’s been since I’ve done a restaurant review! I need to keep up with that again. Among the many other things I keep lagging in but on a side note, isn’t my new camera kick butt!?? Love the picture quality!
2300 Webster Street
(between 23 and 24th street)
Oakland, CA 94612
Hawker Fare Website