Yammers and I decided to meet up for dinner. I have a love/hate relationship with Yammers. I love her amazing appreciation of food and how she doesn’t hold back when it comes to a delicious meal, but I hate how she is able to stay so thin in spite of her monster appetite. 🙂 We ended up at Hawker Fare in the Mission which is the second location of Chef James Syhabout’s original restaurant in Oakland.Hawker Fare bills itself as a casual eatery offering local, organic Asian street food with a strong slant toward Thai flavors. The space is quite huge and filled with bright colored decor, uncomfortable metal furniture and Christmas lights which all came together to make diners feel like they were sitting in the streets of Bangkok.
The Thai papaya salad was tossed with pounded dried shrimp, tomatoes, green beans and dressed with a mix of palm sugar, fish sauce, chilies and lime. The crushed peanuts finished the dish. It was a balanced but pungent mix of sweet and tangy with a particularly spicy kick. The flavors were quite strong and even though I could have done without the green beans, I still enjoyed it.
These green beans were were stir-fried with a Prik Khing curry paste and smoked bacon. The curry paste definitely lent an umami-ness that made these green beans taste quite unique.
This was their version of Hainan Chicken and rice where the skinless chicken thigh was poached and then served with a ginger & fermented bean sauce, with cucumbers & cilantro. The chicken was well prepared, not too dry, but the use of fermented beans adds a slight twist to the usual ginger and oil sauce and is what helps to make this dish so flavorful.
The Berkshire pork shoulder chops are marinated in whisky, white pepper, coriander root and garlic and then served with a Nam Jaew chili dip and some pickled cucumbers and onions. These pork chops had a subtle sweetness which I liked and the dipping sauce just added a different but equally delicious dimension of flavor. This was probably my favorite dish of the meal.
Overall, I really enjoyed the food. The pungent flavor profile and distinct spiciness made the meal seem authentically Thai even though I suspect there is probably a some southeast Asian fusion throughout the menu. Given the size of the restaurant and its boisterous decor, I think this restaurant would be great for a large party. The variety of interesting items on the menu makes for a great family-style meal. The prices are a little above average for this kind of food, but this is the Mission in San Francisco. That being said, I still look forward to coming back and trying the rest of the menu.
680 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
PAFO Ratings for Hawker Fare:
Ambiance 2½ stars
Food 3½ stars
Overall rating 3½ stars