Feb 10, 2019 - Food and Drink

Now open: 5 things to know about Hawkers Asian Street Food in South End

Hawkers, an Orlando-based Asian restaurant inspired by hawker stalls of southeast Asia, is now open next to Jeni’s Ice Creams in South End.

Expect a party-friendly Seoul Food Meat Co. vibe at Hawkers. It’s an ideal spot for a group date.

This is Hawkers’ sixth location — they have four in Florida and one in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward.

Hawkers’ menu features “the best and most popular street foods from all over Asia” and is divided into five main categories: small plates, noodle soups, salads, noodles and rice dishes.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday; and 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.  The exact address is 1930 Camden Road, Suite 260. Note: Hawkers does not take reservations.

OK, here are 5 quick things you need to know about Hawkers.

Hawkers is located at South End’s Design Center — also the home to hot chain spots like Superica, Barcelona Wine Bar and Jeni’s. With a constant line out the door at Jeni’s and Barcelona generating 1.5- to 2-hour waits on popular nights, the Design Center is arguably the hottest development in Charlotte right now.

1. Choose from 31 small plates — and every meal should start with their Roti Canai (Malaysian flatbread with their signature curry sauce).

Noteworthy small plates include Seoul hot chicken steamed boas, lettuce wraps, bulgogi beef skewers, ‘Nam nom spring rolls, Yi-Yi’s chicken dumplings and the chef’s favorite dish Singapore ‘Chili’ crab.

Deal alert: They’ve got $3 small plates from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m Monday through Friday and from 9 p.m. until close Sunday through Thursday. It’s a signature happy hour and late night special.

Roti Canai — Malaysian flat bread, served with a side of their signature curry sauce ($4)
Bulgogi Beef Skewers — three per order, cooked over 1,000 degree wood-burning grill ($9)
Singapore ‘Chili’ Crab — national dish of Singapore, soft-shelled crab with a chili garlic sauce, fried and served with a bao bun ($9.50)
Seoul Hot Chicken — two per order, served steamed buns ($7.50)
Summer Rolls — chilled rice wrap, noodles, lettuce, basil, mint and bean sprouts served with peanut dipping sauce ($4). Agenda related guide: 5 popular Chinese restaurants in Charlotte and what to order at each

2. If you’re boozing go with the “Margari-Thai” or the Capri-Sun-like “That’s my Bag, Baby”

Hawkers offers 12 speciality cocktails and six classic cocktails ranging from $10-$12.

Do they offer sake bombs? Is the sky blue? Of course. It’ll run you $7 per sake bomb, and you can also do a sake flight (three tastings) starting at $7. Or if you’re a sakehead (not sure that’s a term, I just made it up) you can order one of their 10 sake options. You can also sip one of their six Japanese whisky options or do a whisky flight (three tastings) for $18.

Agenda related guide: Best cocktail spots in Charlotte
Painkiller (left) and Margari-Thai – Peligroso tequila, Cointreau, mangosteen, Thai Chili simple, coconut water, house-made sour and a lemon salt rim ($11). Other popular cocktails include their Malaysian Mule and Gin Rickshaw.
That’s My Bag, Baby – Naked Turtle rum, lemongrass simple, lime mint and soda ($11). Yes, of course it’s highly Instagrammable, but it’s also delicious.
Always makes me think of Bill Murray in the movie Lost in Translation
Not boozing? Go with the Thai Iced Tea ($5) at Hawkers

3. Hawkers’ layout gives you three distinct ways to experience the restaurant and bar.

The restaurant group spent close to $2 million on the upfit — and it’s evident.

Inside you’ll find about 165 seats, including a 30-seat indoor/outdoor bar, 1,000 Asian street posters, neon lights, cool overhead wok lights, dozens of old bird cages, open kitchen and glass accordion walls that will open to a 25 seat patio when the weather warms up.

The main dining room provides a more intimate setting, the bar will be popping, and the chill outdoor patio will be slammed in the spring.

Owner Kaleb Harrell told me that he’s obsessed with creating the right atmosphere and admitted that he’s a complete freak when it comes to lighting. Its got to be perfect.

Fun fact: Piped into the restrooms is different music from the rest of the space, some type of Asian pop music — it’s like a party when you pee.

Cat table by the bar
Spacious booth by the bar
Main dining room with exposed kitchen in the back

4. The Tiger Salad is sneaky good.

I know, I know who goes to an Asian street food spot and orders the salad? I’m trying to be healthy OK? Leave me alone.

The Tiger Salad ($8.50) is refreshingly delicious. It’s got poached octopus, cilantro, carrots, spring onions, celery and cucumber with a rice wine vinaigrette.

Hawkers also offers a gluten-free menu and a ton of vegetarian dishes. “It’s some of the best tofu dishes I’ve ever had,” a vegetarian buddy told me.

Tiger Salad at Hawkers. Agenda related guide: Best salads in Charlotte, ranked

5. Incredibly, all dishes at Hawkers cost $9.50 or less.

The price points at Hawkers are super approachable — you can do easily do a cool date night for under $50. Two cocktails, one appetizer and two noodle dishes could be as low as $40.

The highest price of any of their dishes is $9.50. I actually didn’t realize that until I was staring at the menu while writing this. It’s kind of nuts now that I think about it.

Small plates start at $4 and big dishes like their pad thai and curry laksa are $9.50.

Pad Thai — rice noodles, shrimp, chicken, eggs, bean sprouts, carrots, spring onions, red chili pepper, roasted peanuts and lime ($9.50)
Curry Laksa — coconut curry stew, shrimp, chicken, fried tofu, wheat noodles, been sprouts, yow choy, fried shallots and a hard boiled egg ($9.50)
Lettuce Wraps – wok-seared shiitake mushrooms, water chesnuts, carrots, bean curd, garlic, ginger and rice sticks with your choice of tofu, bulgogi beef, roast ruck or satay chicken ($7.50).
Korean Twice Fried Wings – garlic Gochujang sauce, peanuts, sesame and cilantro ($8.50). Agenda related story: Best wings in Charlotte.

Hawkers is now open. It will dominate — expect lines, they do not take reservations.

Wait times have been two hours on busy weekend nights.

“We broke every sales record companywide – daily, weekly, lunch, dinner, happy hour,” CEO Kaleb Harrell told the Agenda when I asked him about the companies debut here in Charlotte.

Jo-He Bag O’ Donuts ($4), a no-brainer order for dessert at Hawkers

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