Hawker declares themselves as the first Asian fast food restaurant, where hawker classics, such as chicken rice, satay and nasi lemak are presented to us in the form of burgers.
A subsidiary of No Signboard Seafood, Hawker is situated along the picturesque waterfront of Esplanade Mall.
The interior of Hawker is simple with chrome counters and large menus — typical of a cookie-cutter fast food restaurant.
Let’s begin with the Chicken Rice Burger (S$8.90 a la carte, S$10.90 meal). The bun component is made with Hainanese chicken rice, which I thought was a good move to ensure the burger stayed true to chicken rice.
The ‘patty’ comprised steamed boneless chicken thigh, and to complete the picture, the burger came with the quintessential cucumber slices and garlicky chilli sauce.
I’m one of those people who absolutely adores and enjoys the fragrant chicken rice more than the chicken, and I got quite a kick out of the rice buns here. Of course being a rice burger, the grains stuck together, which gave it a chewier consistency that I enjoyed.
Even though the boneless chicken thigh was fairly easy to eat, I still get squeamish whenever I see the jelly-like chicken skin. However, still intrigued by this burger I gave it a generous chomp.
I like how you can have every part of the chicken rice in a single bite, with the chilli supplying sufficient heat to the burger. While the chicken is supposed to mimic what you get on a plate of chicken rice, the texture was not the best.
Overall, not a bad burger but in terms of taste and texture, there are definitely areas that can be improved.
Up next was the Black Pepper Burger (S$7.80 a la carte, S$9.80 meal), which is the Western stall equivalent of a black pepper chicken cutlet.
Sadly, this burger was rather underwhelming. The bun veered towards the dry side, while the chicken was nothing really to shout about.
Hoping that the next burger will be much better, we were served the much-anticipated Nasi Lemak Burger (S$8.90 a la carte, S$10.90 meal).
The bun is made with coconut-flavoured rice, and sandwiched in between the rice burgers were the usual suspects on a plate of Nasi Lemak. This burger was a winner for me, every element worked in perfect tandem with each other. The fiery sambal was rich and packed a punch, which was something I was not expecting.
Hawker told me they specifically worked with a Malay chef to ensure the sambal is as authentic as you can get. The yolk was well-done but not overcooked. Not the easiest feat, I reckon given how temperamental eggs are.
What really sealed the deal was the thick and succulent chicken thigh. I could get all the best parts of Nasi Lemak in a single mouthful; convenient and tasty. I dare say this burger can give the Golden Arches a run for their money.
We all know No Signboard Restaurant is famous for their chilli crab but a burger? How would the mechanics of a chilli crab work as a burger?
To my utter delight, the Chilli Crab Bao (S$8.90 a la carte, S$10.90 meal) featured a generous mantou hugging a crunchy crab patty. While I love me some chilli crab, tearing into those pincers can be quite a messy affair. Here, Hawker has streamlined the process and no mess guaranteed.
The mantou was crispy on the outside with a soft pillowy centre. The crab patty was chunky and satisfying, and it was dressed with just the right amount of chilli crab sauce from No Signboard Seafood restaurant, of course.
My companion who was not partial to seafood found this burger quite palatable and I quote, “Nothing, but shiok“.
The coleslaw added some freshness and nicely balanced the richness of the chilli crab sauce. A dutiful and faithful rendition of the well-loved Singaporean dish. I would gladly have two of these in one sitting if not for the burgers I’ve already had before this.
If you are still hankering after more chilli crab, Hawker also offers 6 pcs Mantou With Chilli Crab Sauce (S$4.90/6pcs). A godsend for carb lovers like me and the portion of chilli crab sauce is generous enough to dip. A more affordable and convenient option to satiate that chilli crab longing.
Moreover, being a subsidiary of No Signboard Seafood Restaurant you can be certain the dish will be top-notch.
Another popular burger Hawker peddles is the Satay Chicken Burger (S$6.80 a la carte, S$8.80 meal). Just like our beloved skewer, the juicy chicken thigh patty is marinated in similar spices. Even though the chicken was tender and juicy, the burger can definitely do with more peanut sauce.
Still, a rather tasty burger but missing the distinctive char that satay would normally get from the grill. A little more tweaking is required for this burger, but I’m sure once that is gotten right, it will be phenomenal.
It was no surprise that Hawker was spot on with the Chilli Crab Bao but what really impressed me was the Nasi Lemak Burger. Hawker is still a fairly new establishment and while there are certainly some standouts, some fine-tuning is still needed for Hawker to compete with other fast food joints.
Expected Damage: S$4.90 – S$10.90 per pax
Our Rating: 3 / 5
8 Raffles Avenue #01-13E Esplanade Mall, 039802
8 Raffles Avenue #01-13E Esplanade Mall, 039802