Inside Hawker Fare San Francisco

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February 2, 2015
Hawker Fare on Valencia St.

What You Should Expect at San Francisco's Newest Restaurant: Hawker Fare

Well, this move west happened quickly: chef-owner James Syhabout opened the second location of his Oakland-based Hawker Fare on Valencia Street on Tuesday Jan.27.

To recap, he has taken over the former Amber Dhara. Though we weren’t allowed to take any pictures, we did peek at the interior. It’s bright and cheerful and appears designed to evoke the outdoor dining/night market experience so common in Thailand. There are picnic tables throughout, covered with oilcloth tablecloths, and brightly painted Tolix-style seating. One wall is adorned with rockabilly records, while the wall leading up to the second-story bar is covered in woven rugs of various sizes and designs. The overall effect is eclectic and very fun, with lots of vibrant color and a casual vibe.

The menu is inspired by the Isaan region of Thailand and Laos. There are many new dishes, with new flavor profiles, ingredients and preparations. The menu is broken down into categories: Khong Ghin Len (Snacking Dishes); Larb, Yum, Som Tum (Aromatic & Spicy Salads); Gaeng (One Pot Dishes—Soups, Stews, Curries); Jaan Piset (Specialty Dishes); Ahhaan Yang (Grilled Items); Khao (Rice); and a limited selection of Jaan Phat (Wok-Tossed Dishes). Syhabout is working with chef de cuisine and Bangkok native Supasit “O” Puttkaew, and Hawker Fare Oakland’s chef de cuisine Manuel Bonilla will assist in the transition.

Food will be served family style and will come out as it’s ready. Diners are also encouraged to eat with their hands, and ideally people come with a larger group. The food will also be served on enamel and plastic plates, just as it is in Southeast Asia. For more details, read this article about Syhabout’s inspiring trip to Thailand in 2014.

There is a downstairs bar, The Bar at Hawker Fare, with cocktails by Wizard Oil Co. bartender duo Christ Aivaliotis and Troy Bayless, who are behind all the cocktails at Syhabout’s restaurants. They also opened Duende, consulted for 1601 Bar & Kitchen, and are currently working on Mourad, too.

An additional component to the project is the upstairs cocktail bar, Holy Mountain, which is opening on Friday Feb.6. The first cocktail menu will refer to Carnival and Mardi Gras, spanning New Orleans, Haiti, Trinidad and Brazil with cocktails like the Batida, the De La Louisiane and the Hurricane. There will also be a selection of bar bites (like pork rinds and Syhabout’s amazing roasted peanuts) and the occasional additional food offering “hawked” from a tray.

Hawker Fare
680 Valencia St. at 18th St., 415-932-6193.

Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular insider weekly e-column about the SF dining scene, subscribe for free at www.tablehopper.com. Out now is her first book, The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco: Find the Right Spot for Every Occasion, a groundbreaking new style of guidebook. And check out her new app, Tablehopper’s Top Late-Night Eats, which highlights 95 SF spots serving food past 11pm!

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