Hong Kong restaurant chain Hawker 18 – A Taste of Singapore has opened its first mainland China restaurant in Hangzhou on the 4th floor of West City Intime. West City Intime is the large shopping center in the northeast part of town.
The big menu contains many favourite dishes from Singaporean hawker centers, those typical neighbourhood outdoor eateries where you can find a variety of dishes such as laksa, Hainan chicken, bak kut teh (pork rib soup), fried noodles, fish ball noodle soup and chili crab.
As often happens, Hawker 18 has had to adjust the recipes to suit the tastes of the local population. The Black Turnip Cake (29RMB) is usually sweet, but this version tastes more like the savoury turnip cakes in Hong Kong, which is not a bad thing anyways. Lo Hei Salad (35RMB) didn’t have the raw fish it normally does, but we still enjoyed the light, tasty salad with a sweet sesame oil ginger dressing, grapefruit segments, vegetables and crispy fried taro.
The Laksa (48RMB) with Prawns and an extra 10RMB for additional toppings like fish ball and fish cake, was not as strongly flavoured as we would have liked. If you’ve never had a proper laksa before, it’s actually fine. But for those who know the pungent, aromatic combination of sambal belacan, creamy coconut milk and dried curry leaves, then there’s just a little something missing. Luckily, the management has said that if any future customer wants an authentic Singaporean laksa, they just need to tell the servers and they will kick-up the flavours.
Singaporean Black Pepper Chili Crab (168RMB) is one instance where not so authentic preparations of a dish works in its favour. Hawker 18 uses smaller crabs from China instead of the large Sri Lankan crabs that are used in Singapore. The Chinese crabs are meatier and sweeter and made the time-consuming work of digging out crab meat more rewarding.
For drinks, aside from the usual sodas and beer, you’ll find some typical Hong Kong drinks like HK milky tea, honey lemon tea, Horlicks, Ovaltine and barley water (15-25RMB). Non-smoking, parking is available in the West City Intime parking lot.