Serene, simple, yet somewhat sophisticated entrance complete with water feature, though no fishes, wait….. is this Asian street fare? Door opens…oh, simple, unfussy, clean, open dining room, high top tables, pub height chairs, metallic zinc panels, black industrial style ceiling, and the grand open tower. This place is really cool.
I remembered China Town Restaurant and Market as a dingy and moldy hole. The service was horrible, the food tasteless, even the beer was stale. I went once, 6 years ago, and never even finished my meal. So, it comes as no surprise that this place closed. Now look at the new joint. Wow! What a transformation. New life was given to this old place that really was neglected and time passed it by. Renovate, regenerate, regrow, a greener Orlando. Love it.
The entrance is flanked on the left with a bar and greeter podium, with no greeter. However, a friendly greeting came from the bar area and a person dressed in all black came over and asked, “Two?” Yes, there was two of us. We were lead to a table along the wall. Nice fit. Surprisingly comfortable. There is even a foot step under the table, snazzy. We were handed two menus and a drink list. One of the menus had dried food on the front cover. Wow alot of beers and food items.
There were over 50 beers all of which I am told were in stock. Although, there are the regular Asian beers that could be found in any Asian restaurant in Orlando there are also a trillion small batch brewed that are not so popular. Great, so there is an option to pair this huge variety of food with specific tasting beer. Will keep that in mind. The wine list was a decent compilation with most of the varieties present but seem to lack focus and was not well rounded. I was told by the server that it is a new list since the previous one were selections from Total Wine on Colonial Dr.At least they recognize the need. Step up?
The food menuwas a combination of most Asian dishes. Several dishes reflect the most popular of that particular ethnicity. However, some one really loves five spice. There is a whole section of the menu that is dedicated to five spice inspired dishes. Nice combination of soups, salads, stir fry, and grilled items. However, it is a large menu so study before you go.
Technology has definitely touched this restaurant with the sleek and shinny iPad terminals. They operate on a Point of Sale system that is all wireless called Lavu. Since everything is wireless they have the option to add on iPod and iPhone apps. Cool and techy.
After going through the menu and taking some recommendations from the server we settled on 6 dishes.
Malaysian flat breads served with a side of spicy curry dipping sauce.
Roti-A little on the chewy undercooked side.
Curry-On point, creamy, spicy, flavorful. The little nugget of chicken on the bottom was oh so soft.
Grilled Hawker Skewers
All beautifully marinated and grilled to perfection.
Char Kway Teo
Malaysia’s most popular street fare, Wide rice noodles stir fried with shrimp, chicken breast, egg, bean sprouts, and shallots.
Good stir fry dish, noodles plumb not al dente, not soft, but oily, creating a very smooth luxurious texture. Vegetables and proteins cooked well. Good dish, oil puddle forms if left to sit too long. Description on menu does not include bean sprouts, but here they crunchy and earthy, love it.
A Singaporean favorite, egg noodles in a coconut curry stew, topped with a hard boiled egg, shrimp, sliced chicken breast, and garnished with “yow choy” (chinese kale) and fried shallots.
Creamy, lightly flavored, just the right amount of spiciness, proteins cooked tenderly, great bowl of delight.
Five Spice Tofu
Crisp, five spice flavor present, silky tofu, cooked perfectly.
Five Spice Fish Tacos
Crisp, five spice flavor present, well cooked fish, fresh tomatoes and lettuce. Soft taco shell.
I asked for a beer recommendation that would go well with our selections and was offered the same old common Asian types with casualness of someone who could care less what the other gazillion beers on the menu tasted like. Poor showing, since they have such a large variety. I selected a Tiger beer which complemented and tasted quite crisp. After the beer, I asked for a wine recommendation and the server took my menu and read off starting from the top. I tried the French Grenache blend. Good wine, paired okay with the grilled hawker skewers but not versatile enough as the only blend on the menu.
I have to point out the cohesiveness in design. There is a common reddish/orangeish stripe colored theme that transcends on the menu, logo, and around the restaurant. Very nice touch. Now every time I see this color or stripe I will think of Hawkers. Points for branding.
Overall, this is a nice concept with fresh ideas and same old flavors. It is a good attempt to update the proverbial Asian take out restaurant and definitely a step up from Chinatown Restaurant and Market.