Hawkers is a new and very welcome addition to the St. Petersburg restaurant scene. It offers the perfect blend of delicious Asian street food, a hip ambiance, and friendly service.
Hawkers has been on mine and Vishnu’s must try list for a while now. However, every time we stop by we’re told that the wait is an hour plus. Knowing how popular this place is around dinnertime, we decided to eat a very late lunch/early dinner one day and headed over around 4 pm. Lo and behold, we were seated almost immediately!
I absolutely loved the ambiance at Hawkers. Everything from the open concept feel to the exposed brick to the cool lantern lights makes you feel like you’re dining in a big city like Chicago or New York. Perfect for date night or a fun dinner out with friends, Hawkers really delivers a trendy look and feel.
While our dining experience happened at what seemed like the least busy time, I was very happy with the service we received. Not only was our waiter knowledgeable about the menu and super friendly, but he was also clearly very passionate about the food. He enthusiastically described all of the dishes we asked about and filled us in on the backstory behind the restaurant as well. His energy was contagious and made the whole experience that much more fun!
Hawker’s extensive menu is full of dishes one would find when travelling to any number of countries in Asia – from India to China to Malaysia. The owners wanted to take the best of the best street food they tried when travelling abroad and recreate it for their customers.
We started our meal with two appetizers (we were starving!) – the Jicama and Tofu Salad and the Spring Rolls. Both dishes were refreshing and full of crunchy textures. However, the star of the appetizer round was the salad. For such a simple dish, it had so many different dimensions – sweet, tangy, spicy. We definitely started this meal on a high note!
For our main entrees, both Vishnu and I opted for noodle based dishes.
Vishnu’s dish was called Zha Jiang Mian, which translates to “fried sauce noodles.” According to our waiter, this is a traditional Chinese dish that’s known for its spice combinations. Vishnu really enjoyed his meal and said that he loved how the sauce brought everything together – egg noodles, chicken, peppers, cucumbers.
For my main entree, I decided to order the vegetarian version of the Mee Goreng, a Malaysian egg noodle stir fry dish. This dish had it all – sweet and savory flavors from the chili sauce, crunch from the scallions, sprouts, and peanuts, and a bit of “meatiness” from the tofu and potatoes. The element worth mentioning is really the chunky pieces of potato. While nothing out of the ordinary, the slight char on the outside was perfection when paired with the other ingredients.
Sufficiently stuffed and very happy, we left Hawkers with smiles on our faces! We also immediately made plans to return at least once more before it’s time to say good-bye to St. Pete.
Do you have a favorite neighborhood restaurant? How often do you eat there?