Inside the Almost Finished ‘Potluck Hawker Eatery’

Of the few restaurants under construction that I’m especially excited about, Potluck Hawker Eatery – opening soon in the heart of Cambie Village – might have me salivating the most.

The last time I checked in with chef Justin Cheung (who you might know from his years of cooking at Longtail Kitchen) was when he showed me around his 1,000 sqft restaurant project at the beginning of February — so about a month or so before this pandemic became real for Vancouverites. If this is the first you’re hearing of it, here’s a little refresher

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.

Add some fried chicken, laksa and Nasi Goreng to the mix, too…

The 35 seat restaurant is now back on track and gearing up for an opening around the third week of June. The plan, I’m told, is to start with a takeout window focusing on family-style picnics. Justin has now zeroed in his culinary focus to the street foods of Malaysia and Singapore with occasional nods to the rest of Southeast Asia, and the menus I’ve seen online are looking really tight.

The interior has come a long way in the past couple of months. If you recall from my first walk-through, it was a bit of a mess. Now it’s nearly presentable, with some good looking millwork by Hyack Contracting out of New Westminster and some awesome durian fruit-patterned wallpaper in the bathroom. (If you don’t get the joke, I can’t help you.) There’s clearly plenty of work still to be done, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a closer look…

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