Newly opened HWKR takes some inspiration from Asian hawker centres, but there’s something very Melbourne about the place.
It hosts several vendors, who will change every few months. For its launch, expect to see a few famous faces, an international visitor and a local favourite.
From screen to kitchen
Since winning Masterchef last year, Diana Chan has left her accountancy career to jump headfirst into the food world. While she has done several private events, her “Chanteen”, located inside HWKR, is the first time that she has cooked for the public.
Her menu is inspired by the street food of her home country, Malaysia, as well as Singapore. “Living abroad, I miss home a lot and I miss Malaysian cuisine,” she tells SBS Food.
Chan's satay recipe (passed down by her dad) is made from scratch everyday with over 20 ingredients. “It’s a bit different to what you usually get in Malaysia on the streets. I added something to make it saltier rather than sweeter. It’s sweet, sour and salty."
Another hit is the char kway teow, a rice noodle dish with prawns, Chinese sausage, egg, bean sprouts and chives. “I’ve had people come up to me and tell me it reminds them of home. It’s exactly what I want – I want people to taste the food and say, ‘Wow! It takes me right back to my childhood!’”
Some of her dishes might be traditional but there's plenty of modern spins too, like her lobster roll, a take on the Singaporean chilli crab.
After her stint at HWKR finishes in three months, Chan says she’d like Chanteen to go national.
Hong Kong sambos
Hong Kong-based Bread & Beast is another part of the first round of vendors at HWKR, rolling out sandwiches that pack a punch. “Hong Kong food is not just Cantonese food, there’s a lot of Japanese, Thai and Filipino influence as well. A lot of our dishes represent that,” says Justin Wong, who is overseeing the pop-up.
Their signature offering, the Ngau Lam ‘Wich, is inspired by a noodle dish. They’re doing a modern version by slow-cooking the beef and sandwiching it with chu hou mayo, spring onion and pickled daikon. Their Lennon fries are a nod to the Japanese influence Wong mentioned: fries with an onsen egg, okonomiyaki sauce, Kewpie mayo, and bonito and nori flakes.
The Melbourne menu even has its own dish, the What Can’t You Beet?, a salad of beetroot marinated in Chinese aged vinegar.
A permanent Bread & Beast shop in Australia could be on the cards. “Give us a reason to stay,” Wong says with a smile.
Cocktails, rice and dessert
And Melbourne favourite Rice Paper Scissors, with a new rice-based concept, Khao, completes the round up of HWKR’s first temporary vendors.
HWKR has one permanent tenant, Manymore, which operates as a cafe in the morning and a bar at night, and gives 100 per cent of its profits to charities.
The next vendors should take over in May, but there’s no word out yet on whom it will be.
Daily, 7am - 11pm
137 A’Beckett St, Melbourne
All vendors are cashless