Hawkers Lane, 12 Hall Street, Newport. Phone: 9391 0611
“I’ve never seen so many depressed people in one place!”
That’s the desolate text message I receive from Bennie.
He’s stranded in Laverton and the trains are not running.
Neither he, nor anyone else it seems, knows what is going on.
In the meantime, he’s directed me to Newport for pick-up duties – prematurely as it turns out.
But as we await transport clarification, I get the chance to scope out the Hall Street shops and businesses – including the Malaysian place I’d heard about.
It’s small and tidy – not much more than a glorified take-away, really, with one tall and small table and a bunch of counter/window stools.
Still, something about the place feels just right – an exciting impression given ooomph by the surreptitious looks I grab of two different meals I see being eaten.
Our stay-at-home dinner options are happily jettisoned for another night and – once the tricky transport logistics are finally resolved at Footscray Station – it’s back to Newport we head.
The Hawkers Lane menu (see below) covers much familiar territory, from curry puffs (including a sardine option) and rotis through to noodles (wok, wet and soup), one-person rice dishes and full-serve mains such as beef rendang and Nyonya fish curry.
I’ve heard there is a link between this place and Wok Noodle in Seddon, though how deep I do not know. Nor, on this occasion, do I pursue the matter.
Rotis can be served plain or with the likes of peanut sauce, beef rendang and chicken curry, or as wraps.
Our fine roti with potato curry ($9) is all good, though the curry is rather more runny than we’d like – a more sticky gravy that sticks to the flat bread would be just the ticket.
Bennie makes quick work of his mee goreng ($12.50).
It’s a solid, well-cooked outing.
My chicken kari laksa ($15, top photo) is a variation on your regular chicken laksa.
The curry sauce blends with the laksa soup to create a very flavoursome brew, while the chicken pieces are heftier and much tastier than the diced or shredded chook routinely found in laksas.
For veg, there’s just a single, longish chunk of eggplant – no beans or broccoli or the like.
But that matters not, as the chicken, the tofu, two halves of golden boiled egg and mix of two curry gravies combine with the noodles and bean sprouts to produce a top-notch laksa.
Hawkers Lane is a real find.
The locals must be thrilled.
The bare-bones set-up means eating in feels more like just grabbing a quick, unfussy bite and less like going through the whole restaurant ritual.
Yet the service and food quality shine.
Hawkers Lane is a cash-only operation, does not do deliveries and is closed on Sundays.