Travel friends to open Hawkers Asian street food restaurant in Deep Ellum

Texas ‘first Hawkers Asian Street Food restaurant is slated to open in Deep Ellum in November 2021. The restaurant is inspired by four friends’ regular trips to Asia over the past 15 years, where they ate street food in local restaurants. countries like Malaysia and Thailand. and China.

“We really wanted to transport people to what it’s like to eat on the streets of Asia,” says Kaleb Harrell, CEO and co-founder. “And you don’t have to buy $ 2,000 [plane] ticket.”

Friends (left to right) Kin Ho, Allen Lo, Wayne Yung, and Kaleb Harrell started Hawkers Asian Street Food in Florida in 2011. The first restaurant in Texas is slated to open in late 2021. (Sherane Chen / Sherane Chen)

Founders Kin Ho, Allen Lo, Wayne Yung and Harrell opened the first Hawkers in their Orlando, Florida home in 2011. The business now has 11 restaurants. The restaurant at 2800 Main Street in Deep Ellum, the former Curtain Club, is the only Hawkers planned in Texas at this time.

“We really like going to the heart of the community, where people are cultured and enjoy a new culture and a sort of adventurous palate,” said the CEO. He loves the dynamism and artistic nature of Deep Ellum.

Hawkers’ menu is inspired by many countries in Asia, and some of the recipes come from family members of two co-founders, who still live in Hong Kong, and Alor Setar (who is located in Kedah, Malaysia). The name Hawkers refers to the word for street vendors selling food. “Colporteur culture” dates back to the 1800s in Singapore, said National geography.

The most popular dish in existing restaurants is roti canai, a Malaysian flatbread served with a curry dip.

"The best part of roti canai is the curry sauce," Says Kaleb Harrell, CEO and co-founder of Hawkers Asian Street Food.  Roti canai is a Malaysian flatbread that he describes as the place where "filo dough meets a croissant meets a cookie."
“The best part about roti canai is the curry sauce,” says Kaleb Harrell, CEO and co-founder of Hawkers Asian Street Food. Roti canai is a Malaysian flatbread that he describes as where “phyllo dough meets croissant meets cookie”.(Adam Smajstrla / Adam Smajstrla)

The menu includes what Harrell describes as Asian dishes familiar to the American public, such as Pad Thai. The sauce is cooked for eight hours and the recipe is similar to their favorite restaurant’s recipe. in Phuket, Thailand. He recognizes that Asian cuisine varies by region.

“I would say street food in Asia is very similar to barbecue in the United States. Different regions represent it a little differently, ”he says. “[And] people are very passionate about the representation of the dish by their region. If you go to Penang [in Malaysia], their laksa curry is the best laksa curry, and don’t tell them anything else.

Laksa curry is one of the most popular hawkers’ dishes. It’s a coconut curry soup with shrimp, fried tofu sprouts and noodles. Harrell calls it a “comfort food staple” which he has enjoyed on the streets of Malaysia on several occasions.

The menu also includes green papaya and shrimp, Sichuan wontons, udon noodles, and Korean wings.

Vietnamese coffee is made as a tribute to its country of origin. At Hawkers, they mix the chicory coffee with the World Café beans, slowly filter it through a phin, then mix the muddy liquid with condensed milk and evaporated milk. It’s a popular order, and hawkers will likely use a full-size phin that can slow Vietnamese coffee in batches of six or eight drinks.

Toasted Coffee + Kitchen's Vietnamese iced coffee in Dallas is made with cold brew and condensed milk.  It's not the traditional way of brewing Vietnamese coffee, as Vietnamese-American woman Melody Vo pointed out on Yelp.

Harrell says they’re “dedicated to authenticity” – but there are some limitations. Chef and brand co-founder Lo would prefer to use fresh lemongrass in his dishes, but it’s hard to get hold of in the United States unless it’s frozen. Plus, some of the techniques used by street vendors don’t translate into restaurant food, as Harrell and his friends have learned on their travels.

He recounts a case where a Malaysian chef was making a wonton noodle dish named kon lo mee, and Harrell and his business partners were captivated by the flavor.

“We ask him, ‘What’s your secret? »… And he says that when you knead the dough, you have to put your elbow in it. All the sweat of [his] the elbow goes into the dough.

Harrell laughs. “So we had to modify this recipe a bit. “

Beyond the printed menu, Hawkers plans to sell time-limited dishes for more adventurous eaters, like Grilled Chicken Heart.

“We try to make sure we have an offer for everyone,” he says.

Hawkers Asian Street Food is scheduled to open at 2800 Main St., Dallas, in November 2021.

For more food information, follow Sarah Blaskovich on Twitter at @sblaskovich.

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