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May 29, 2011 03:48 PM

Review of Hawkers in Orlando on Mills Ave

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,

Heather W

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    1. Went to Hawkers last night for the first time (thanks to this board) and man I am going back A LOT.

      Going in I knew what to expect thanks to different posts and reviews I have read. I didn't study the menu too hard since I knew if I did I would order damn near everything on it. I really was looking forward to the Crispy Roast Pork, but unfortunately I was informed they were all out :(

      I decided to just get the Curry Hawker Meatballs ($4) and the Korean Bulgogi Beef Bahn Mi slider ($6). My girlfriend had the Stir Fry Udon with Chicken ($6.5).

      The meatballs (6 of them) came out first and were really good. I wasn't sure what to expect from curry meatballs but they were very crispy on the outside and crumbly/juicy in the middle. The curry sauce was not hot nor too heavy on the curry flavor which some poeple might like if they are not big curry fans.

      The Stir Fry Udon was really good. The chicken was juicy and had a good charred grilled flavor to it, the noodles were cooked to perfection and there was not a lot of sauce. The only down side to the noodle dish was the lack of spice. The menu shows a pepper next to the item which signals heat to me, but there wasn't any spice to the dish.

      And then there was the Bahn Mi Slider. First its not a "slider" as I see it. When I think Slider I think small little portion, this was a good 6 inch sub sized portion cut into thirds...which is a good thing for those scoring at home. The beef was delicious and with the addition of some always delicious Saracha the Bahn Mi did not disappoint.

      As I said I will be going back over and over to try just about everything on the menu. For 2 people, 3 dishes and 1 beer the total was right around $20....damn good for dinner in Downtown.