Rejoice! There’s a new Southeast Asian hawker street food restaurant called Potluck Hawker Eatery opening soon in the heart of Cambie Village (next door to the Park Theatre).
The 35-seat Potluck Hawker Eatery is coming to us from first-time restaurateur Justin Cheung, who has long been the chef at Angus An’s much-loved Longtail Kitchen in New Westminster’s River Market. The casual, 1,000 sqft restaurant at 3424 Cambie St. will feature counter-service and a menu that draws inspiration from the family ritual of the potluck by serving up many of the street foods of Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines.
The concept is something Vancouver could really sink its teeth into, and given Justin’s well known devotion to deliciousness I have no trouble seeing success for him in his first solo venture, even if it’s in a location that seems to regularly chew up restaurants and spit them out.
“Growing up, I enjoyed my mom’s Malaysian cooking and visiting my uncle’s char kuay teow stall in Penang, so opening Potluck is a homecoming of sorts for me,” says Cheung. “There was nothing more important than eating together. When we talk about the most intimate and organic gatherings, it’s always a potluck.”
So what does that mean on the receiving end? From what I understand, we can expect things like fried chicken wings with salted egg yolk butter and curry leaf, a laksa based on Justin’s mother’s recipe, a Filipino coconut stew of pork belly, some pad mee korat, maybe whole fried fish, great big chili crabs, housemade nam prik and dunk-worthy sawsawan. Potluck will be licensed, so we can also anticipate some cold beers to wash it all down.
As for the look of the place, I’ve seen some pretty colourful design renderings that should suit the bright, punchy smells that I’m anticipating. The interior design is being done by Nathalie Koo and Elisa Leung of local firm Cutler, and the branding is the work of Graeme Jack.
Construction began Monday, and the goal is to have it ready by April, 2020. I’ll be keeping an eye on this project as it develops, so expect more as opening day approaches. I took my first look inside yesterday and this is what I saw…
Why it matters: Vancouver’s food scene is strangely bereft of restaurants dedicated to the delicious variety of flavours found in the hawker stalls of Southeast Asia. Though small and unassuming, Potluck could help fill an unlikely gap. Also, first-time restaurateurs like Justin Cheung are only just tapping into their ambition, which is always exciting to see.