If the restaurant industry can find a way to see any positive outcome of the pandemic, it might be that, although it was not a time of relaxed creativity (more like creativity through adversity and necessity), people were forced to stop and think about how they could do things differently. New ideas and strategies were tested and, in some instances, developed and adopted – exactly what happened for business partners Chef Justin Cheung, Dominic Sai, Lynn Sakai-Boden and Darren Chuang, of Potluck Hawker Eatery.
Collectively, the team (especially Chef Justin Cheung) already had plenty of restaurant concept ideas formulated pre-Covid. But when the pandemic hit, and they opened doors to Potluck on Cambie Street (July 2020), the new restaurant immediately had to jump into ‘pivot mode’, and they started t0 experimenting with one idea in particular: burgers and sandwiches with a Southeast Asian twist. At the time, they were exploring a format that offered a more practical solution to takeout options than the soups and noodles they are now so popular for. However, their customers were immediately and enthusiastically on board with the handheld concept to such an extreme that the team started thinking about finding a brick-and-mortar address for the off-shoot…
Good news for Mount Pleasant: that address is now locked in, and work is underway to transform 3088 Main Street into Street Hawker, a new fast-casual, counter-service eatery focused on Southeast Asian-inspired burgers, sandwiches, fries, and proper milkshakes.
The team picked up the keys to the space (previously plant-based quick service concept, Planetary Kitchen – just two doors from the corner of Main and E 15th) on February 1st, 2023. Beyond updating the aesthetics and some kitchen upgrades, not much needs to be done, so the turnaround time should be mercifully fast.
Clocking in at just under 1000 sqft, the space is divided between two levels and will offer up 20 seats in the loft area plus an additional eight on the patio. Aesthetically, the Street Hawker team will be taking the design into their own hands. What we’re anticipating: a room loud with personality, that doesn’t shy away from colour – pushing towards garish – featuring a wall piece commissioned by graffiti muralist Aime Milot (aka Naks) front-and-centre. Vancouver-based designer Graeme Jack will be carrying over the street hawker market-esque vibes into the restaurant’s branding.
Cheung will be taking the lead in the kitchen, alongside Culinary Director, Ernest Lee (previously chef at Potluck). Menu details are still being hammered out, but expect bold flavours in line with what’s already being executed at Potluck. Some memorable flirtations that made a debut during their pandemic testing phase include a flavour-packed Thai Meatball Sub; the Khao Sri Pizza Sub made with dough from Via Tevere; the Ramly Smash Burger (spiced burger patties with an egg cracked onto the surface of the grill and then wrapped around the burger patty to contain the burger juice); Chicken Sandos (both the Salted Egg and Hot n’ Sticky versions); Malay-O-Fish (breaded fish, sambal, and coconut ranch); and, of course, the Chili Krabby Patty. While we don’t know if the above Sandos will be on the Street Hawker menu at opening, we’re using these examples to illustrate a point: things will likely get pretty dang tasty.
If all goes well, Street Hawker will be hawking Southeast Asian-inspired burgers, sandwiches, fries, and ube, mango, and Milo flavoured milkshakes in Mount Pleasant before the summer hits. Stay tuned to their Instagram feed for developments as they narrow in on their official opening day (TBA).