Hawkers Delight, Station Street Markets, Subiaco
I’m perpetually on the lookout for Asian-style breakfasts in Perth. As much as I love bacon and eggs, for me the most satisfying and comforting breakfasts involve rice, noodles or roti, garlic, soy sauce or curry.
My eldest sister’s the one who told me about the newest Malaysian eatery at the Station Street Markets in Subiaco, Hawkers Delight. Ever since she and her hubby discovered Hawkers Delight, they’ve been going for nasi lemak on Saturday mornings before doing their fruit and veg shopping. Jac and I joined them at the markets for breakfast last weekend.
Hawkers Delight is located between the Station Street Bakery and La Galette de France in the Palm Food Court.
Perth’s got some great Malaysian eateries but what makes Hawkers Delight stand out from the crowd is that it’s open and ready to feed you a hawker-style breakfast at 9am in the morning when the Station Street Markets are trading on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. 9am’s a good time to be at the food court – it’s still possible to get a table and the market crowd has not yet reached its peak.
Hawkers Delight is a family-run business. The cook at the wok is from Penang, Malaysia. Your order will most likely be taken and delivered to your table by her daughter.
The aroma of fried garlic is enticing. I’m reminded of my mum’s and late grandmother’s kitchens as I listen hungrily to the clang of the metal wok shovel and the sizzle as splashes of soy sauce are added and a handful of fresh bean sprouts are thrown into the hot wok. It’s not just me who craves Malaysian food for breakfast – as we choose a table and take our seats well before 9.30am, I can see plates of nasi lemak and chai tow kway and steaming bowls of laksa already being enjoyed around me, not just by Asians.
The menu features nine items, but there are other goodies for sale including woo tau koh (steamed yam cake topped with dried shrimp), curry puffs, loh mai kai (glutinous chicken rice) and a selection of nyonya kueh on display.
Our food doesn’t take long to arrive. The nasi lemak (AU$8) includes coconut rice, half a boiled egg, peanuts, fried anchovies (ikan bilis), sambal, sliced fresh cucumber and a piece of ayam goreng (Malaysian fried chicken). The coconut rice is well flavoured, the fried chicken succulent on the inside, crispy on the outside.
Jac orders the chai tow kway (AU$7), or fried radish cake, a weekend-only special. The radish cake is made with shredded white daikon radish, rice flour and water, steamed then chopped roughly into cubes and stir-fried with preserved radish, mung bean sprouts, egg and soy sauce. In Singapore, the dish is known as “carrot cake” (despite there being no carrot in the dish) and bean sprouts are not used. I grin with delight upon discovery that the chai tow kway has been stir-fried with crispy pork lardons – If you’re an egg-eating vegetarian or do not eat pork, be warned!
We share a serving of Penang fried kway teow (AU$10). Hawker Delight’s version of this classic hawker dish includes sliced Chinese sausage, prawns, chicken and fish cake stir-fried with the flat rice noodles, bean sprout, egg and the best bits of all, crispy lard croutons. When you order chai tow kway or fried kway teow you can ask for specify how hot you want the chilli to be i.e. mild, medium or hot.
To go with our breakfast, creamy banana milk bought at the Sunnydale Dairy stall nearby. Sunnydale is an Western Australian family-run dairy that produces non-homogenised Guernsey cow milk, bottled in glass so it’s more environmentally friendly and tastes better. In addition to plain and flavoured milk, you can get Sunnydale yoghurt and ice cream at their Station Street Market stall and return your glass bottles for recycling.
Jac and I can’t resist returning to the Station Street Markets the next weekend for another Malaysian breakfast. This time, I’m in the mood for curry laksa (AU$10). Rice noodles and egg noodles, tofu puffs, shredded chicken, prawns and fish cake are drowned in a vividly red curry broth enriched with coconut milk, topped with fried shallots, a sprinkling of chopped spring onion and a spoonful of chilli sambal. Every time I bite into one of the broth-soaked tofu puffs the spice hits me right in the back of the throat and my nose is running by the time I’m almost finished – I love it though, and can’t stop drinking the fiery broth.
The egg sauce hor fun is the most expensive dish on Hawkers Delight’s menu (AU$12) and our least favourite out of all the dishes we’ve tried so far. The noodles have a tasty charry flavour but they’re in a clump in the middle of the large plate which appears to be mostly sauce. The pork and squid pieces are chewy rather than tender. A bit of a disappointment.
I order a third dish to share, chee cheong fun (AU$6). The rice noodles used are more like the kind used for char kway teow, rather than the silky steamed hand cut rice noodle rolls traditionally used for chee cheong fun. It’s a generous, saucy serving, sprinkled liberally with sesame seeds. No hidden lard croutons in this dish!
Unlike the more famous char kway teow and laksa, chee cheong fun and chai tow kway are not commonly found on Malaysian menus in Perth. Although we have no shortage of Malaysian restaurants in Perth, for years I’ve been getting my chai tow kway and chee cheong fun fix at one place alone, Fook Kee in Spencer Village, Thornlie. How does Hawkers Delight compare with Fook Kee?
- Hawkers Delight’s chai tow kway is softer and saucier; Fook Kee’s firmer radish cake has a bit more of a golden crust on it.
- Hawkers Delight’s chee cheong fun doesn’t use soft steamed rice flour roll (uses flat rice noodle instead); Fook Kee’s comes topped with two slices of fried beancurd skin.
It’s a tough call, but think I prefer the saucier, stickier chai tow kway of Hawkers Delight but I think Fook Kee’s chee cheong fun is superior, as it’s made with the steamed rice flour roll and includes fried beancurd skin.
This time, we wash down our breakfast with cendol (AU$4) and soya bean milk (AU$2). The soya bean milk provides my laksa-burnt mouth with much needed cooling relief.
Next on my list: Hawkers Delight’s Hainan chicken rice and Penang prawn noodle soup.
Hawkers Delight – Malaysian Chinese cuisine
Stall number 19, Palm Court
Station St Markets, Subiaco
The markets are open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and public holidays
General merchants (including Hawkers Delight) are open 9am to 5.30pm
Fruit and vegetable merchants are open 7am to 5.30pm
More Malaysian food coming to Station Street Markets
But it looks like Hawkers Delight won’t be the newest Malaysian stall at the markets for long: halal Malaysian Love and Care Cafe opens at the the Station Street Markets opposite the fruit and veg markets on 8 June. According to the signs, Love and Care’s dishes will include chicken and lamb satay, served with ketupat (rice cubes), cucumber and peanut sauce; chicken briyani rice and beef rendang. Sounds good to me – the more Malaysian the merrier, I reckon.
But there’s just one bad thing: my love for Malaysian food means I’ve been neglecting the other excellent food choices available at Station Street Markets that include French, Vietnamese, Japanese, Mexican, El Salvadorian, African (Ghana) and more – so much great food, not enough time, not enough tummy.