The exterior of Hawker Fare on Valencia. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.
Well, this one is happening quickly: chef-owner James Syhabout is opening the second location of his Oakland-based ~HAWKER FARE~ on Valencia Street next Tuesday January 27th (with a soft opening on Saturday January 24th).
To recap, he is taking 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, take a look. There will be 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. You will also be encouraged to eat with your hands, and ideally you come with a larger group. The food will also be served on enamel and plastic plates, just as it is in Southeast Asia. You can read more in 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 February 6th. 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.
Dinner hours are Tue-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11:30pm, Sun 4pm-9pm. Hawker Fare bar hours are Tue-Thu 5pm-12am, Fri-Sat 5pm-12am, Sun 5pm-9pm. Closed Mondays. Weekend lunch will be launching on Saturday February 7th, 12pm-3pm. 680 Valencia St. at 18th St., 415-932-6193.
A couple more things: Syhabout also updated the look of his original Hawker Fare in Oakland (the graffiti is dunzo), and he is also in the thick of his Dine About Oakland Public Schools initiative. Each week, a different Oakland public school will benefit, with 5 percent of all bills at all of his restaurants (Hawker Fare, The Dock, and Commis) donated to that designated school. We missed the week of donations to Claremont Middle School, but January 18th-24th is Cabot Elementary, and January 25th-31st is Oakland Tech. That’s a generous gift, chef!