Last Updated: May 1, 2018
If there’s one place that you could call Singaporean food heaven, where would it be?
Well, my answer’s certain – a restaurant named HAWKERMAN located at the Singpost Centre.
This isn’t any ordinary restaurant, it is a crossover between three well-known local food brands: Tenderfresh, Warong Kim and Ah Boy’s Popiah.
Imagine that! Three familiar brands that sell Singapore’s favourite foods, all in one place. And they don’t just offer the usual dishes from each brand, HAWKERMAN has combined different ingredients from the respective brands to create new and exciting dishes that showcase the very best of each brand.
The first dish was the Skinny Popiah ($4.90), which came stuffed with Ah Boy Popiah’s signature rainbow filling (a combination of seven different vegetables), a piece of Tenderfresh’s crispy chicken skin, and slathered with a creamy salted egg sauce.
With an eager stomach that couldn’t stop growling, I took a huge first bite into the popiah and was sent straight to popiah heaven.
Ah, the juicy vegetables that carried an oh-so-sweet flavour, combined with the luxurious salted egg sauce, and the crisp of the chicken skin – it was a sensation of taste, texture and flavour that I hadn’t experienced before.
As the salted egg is quite rich, you would think the sauce would overpower the entire dish. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case with the Skinny Popiah.
There was just the right amount of salted egg sauce to lend a creamy, savoury boost of flavour to the dish, without completely covering the sweetness of the vegetables. Truly delectable!
After devouring the popiah, I was ready for another modern take on a classic Singaporean dish. This was HAWKERMAN’s Yuan Yang Carrot Cake ($6.90), which features fried carrot cake done in two different ways. The first is the classic ‘white’ carrot cake, topped with sambal chilli.
The carrot cake (made in-house) was seasoned perfectly, and I could detect a strong wok hei flavour. The pieces of carrot cake were of the perfect size, chunky, yet not too excessively so. I also appreciated that they weren’t too starchy. Paired with the sweet and spicy sambal chilli, this was quite the winning dish.
Now, suppose there was an imaginary scale that measures how unexpected an event is, the second version of HAWKERMAN’s carrot cake would break that scale.
Okay, get ready because you will be shaken. So, imagine plain ol’ carrot cake, but topped with a slice of melted cheese and…slathered with carbonara sauce.
Frankly, I didn’t think it would work because the combination seemed so bizarre. But, once I’d taken my first bite, all fear was put to rest.
Strangely enough, the creaminess of the carbonara sauce enhanced the flavour of the carrot cake, while the melted cheese added a lil’ ooey gooey goodness to the dish. Kids will love this dish.
With that unusual experience completed, I moved on to something a little more traditional. This was Hawkerman‘s Seafood Lor Mee ($9.90), but with a slight twist.
On top of the usual ingredients for this signature dish, this version comes with Ah Boy Popiah’s rainbow popiah filling. Additionally, the broth is made with the ‘chap’ (juices) from the rainbow vegetables!
I was quite excited for this because it’s one of the restaurant’s best-sellers. Unfortunately, the broth didn’t quite meet my expectations. Though the seafood flavour was prominent, it was lacking in depth of flavour.
Still, I do applaud HAWKERMAN for its creativity. Since the restaurant uses all halal ingredients (according to the manager), instead of lard, the dish comes with some of that deep-fried, crispy chicken skin which I thought added a nice touch to the dish.
Update: HAWKERMAN is halal certified.
Itching for something more flavourful, I went ahead and ordered the Fried Yam Fries ($8.90). And I’m glad to say that that was the best decision I made that day.
The chunky yam slices were battered with a sweet and savoury coating and deep-fried to golden brown perfection. Yet they remained tender and moist inside, making it quite difficult to stop eating fry after fry.
What’s even better is that the yam fries came served with a spicy mayo sauce, which added a zingy kick to the fries.
After polishing most of the fries (hey, if you’d tried this you wouldn’t judge me for doing so), it was finally time for some dessert. And once again, HAWKERMAN outdoes itself – this time, in the dessert arena.
I had the Durian & Jack Popiah ($5.90). Yes, you read that right, it’s a dessert popiah. Delicately wrapped in chewy popiah skin is a mixture of coconut ice cream; strips of jackfruit; and the king of all fruits, durian.
With each bite came a punch of that prominent durian flavour that most either hate or love, followed by a subtle tropical flavour that comes from the coconut ice cream. This combination of flavours actually went quite well with the popiah skin, as it was the perfect blend of sweet and savoury.
The only thing that I didn’t particularly enjoy about this dish was the jackfruit, as I thought it disrupted the harmony between the durian and coconut. By itself, jackfruit has quite a strong flavour, so putting it with durian only made the flavour clash. Thankfully, there wasn’t too much of it.
HAWKERMAN just has to be on your bucket list if you’re a Singaporean food lover. The modern twists on classic local food really elevate these everyday dishes, and will certainly excite your palate to the fullest. You won’t be disappointed!
Expected damage: $7 – $10 per pax