We’d read a review about this restaurant in Orlando Weekly, and being big tapas fans, we decided to make the long trek out to Mills Avenue. Hawkers did not disappoint! The interior reminded us strongly of Chipotle’s interior, with lots of corrugated iron.Our waitress was very friendly, making a beer suggestion to my husband (they offer 90 different beers by the bottle, mostly ranging in price from $4 to $7) and giving us ample time to look over the menu. We decided to each select a dish to share, then each have one dish for ourselves, since I do not eat meat, and my husband had decided in advance to try the roast duck banh mi sliders.
Our first dish was the Asian fried green beans, lightly battered and tossed in five spice seasoning for $4.50. This was delicious! We ate them in about 30 seconds flat. The beans were a bit oily, but in a good, street-food type of way, and the five spice seasoning lent an exotic flavor to the beans.
Next came the South Asia shrimp curry for $6.50. We really, really liked this dish. The coconut milk was a nice touch, and the shrimp were large and very flavorful. We ordered a side of white rice for $1 to eat the curry over, and I was somewhat challenged to eat this with chopsticks, but I managed.
In addition to the white rice, I had also ordered a piece of roti canai, thinking that I would sop up the shrimp curry with this. The roti was outstanding, buttery and flaky, and I could have eaten seven more of these! The menu mentioned that it would be served with the “signature spicy curry dipping sauce,” so I was astounded to find that this dipping sauce had chunks of chicken in it! I didn’t eat the chicken chunks, but, since I don’t eat meat, I would have asked them to hold the dipping sauce if I’d realized what it contained. My only complaint about the restaurant is that I wish they had marked the menu to identify vegetarian dishes, which would have made it a lot easier to navigate. Currently, the menu has symbols for spicy dishes and for “Hawkers Signature Dishes,” a symbol that I always find to be singularly useless. Why tell me what your signature dish is? What does that even mean, in practical terms? Why not have a special section called “Hawkers Signature Dishes,” instead of “Hawkers Originals?” The inclusion of both, without identifications that might have actually helped diners order, is a pet peeve of mine, not just on Hawkers’ menu, but on menus at other restaurants, as well.
My next dish was the $6 Hawkers fish tacos, one of the Hawkers Originals, and it was the weakest of all the dishes we tried. The five spice fish inside the tacos were woefully under-salted, and the shredded cabbage was dried up and didn’t seem to be fresh.
My husband’s next dish was also a Hawkers Original selection, the aforementioned Banh Mi sliders with roast duck for $6. He thought they were a touch heavy on the bread, but that was to be expected with a thick baguette. The duck was flavorful, though not very tender, and he liked the light mayonnaise dressing, without which he felt the duck would have been a bit dry. The cucumbers in this dish were reportedly “great,” and complemented the duck nicely. The bread was not chewy, and tasted fresh.
The total for roti, curry, green beans, tacos, rice, banh mi sliders, a Coke, and a Southern Tier IPA was $36.22 after tax and before tip. We left the restaurant STUFFED, and definitely felt that we could have ordered probably one fewer dish than we did, though we had wanted to try multiple items.
If you're interested in photos, I've got them uploaded on our dining blog, http://hpandaw.wordpress.com
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