cuisine – NOW HAWKING
written by Naomi Ergun photography by Naomi Ergun
As a general rule of thumb, I avoid Krog + PCM like the plague. Cruising (2.4 mph) through the swarm of families, scooters, teens, cyclists, (tiny bitch ass) dogs, in efforts to find parking feels all too similar to the impasse that is waiting in the late-night Kroger self-checkout line. Hoards of sheep aside, the spots tend to be cokie-cutter (sp) and I’m not in the place in my life (or whatever they say) to overpay for banality. There are a few exceptions to this rule – s/o @Ticonderoga Club, James Room – and I try to stay open minded, so after hearing @lowlife_brandon rave about this new asian street food gem all summer, I was eager to throw my coin at it.
— enter Hawkers —
She’s sitting pretty on the extension of the beltline behind Kevin Rahtbun’s Steak, nestled between Nina + Rafi (have heard good things) and Guac y Margys (makes me want to die). The vibe is a perplexing coupling of Little Trouble and Taco-Mac, but still, I’m hungry af and happy to be in air conditioning. The menu is extensive but we choose a few items and patiently wait. Look, the food was goodd. The fried tofu was tasty, although nowhere near that of @soba (ily). Hawker wings, fire. Summer rolls cool, refreshing. Green papaya mango salad, fine. We left, placated and satisfied with our decision.
A few weeks later, we return for round two. Unlike the first go around, we were seated at some plastic cafeteria table under a fluorescent green light that made us nauseous enough to ask to be moved. My vegan-but-swole boyfriend ordered tofu lettuce wraps, while I opted for the satay chicken version. My toxic best friend ordered the edamame (nothing to write home about). Eons passed and even though no crime had been committed, this is where the punishment starts. A food runner delivered the first entree and uttered the word “tofu” as he retreated to the kitchen. Swole Vegan (identity protected) digs into his first wrap and offers me one. I’m skeptical – the tofu looks like Chipotle sofritas – but it’s delicious he says so I give it a shot. Guess what? It’s fucking incredible. The tofu is crisp and the flavor is rich. “Holy shit I think I could be a vegan” I exclaim as I bounce up and down in the booth, unable to contain my excitement. See, tofu can be soggy but this was hitting. Just as he’s polishing off the last wrap, our food runner returns to drop off the next dish. “Tofu lettuce wraps” … I stare at the plate, while S. Vegan begins to choke as he realized he had unknowingly and unwillingly eaten meat for the first time in 5 years. Silence washes over the table as we can’t take our eyes off of the (soggy) tofu and realize that lies are best served crispy.
The server appeared confused (verging on unbothered) when we explained what had happened. She didn’t apologize, but offered to bring another dish which we were later charged for (!! the audacity). I went to speak with her privately, to which she rebutted rather defensively but ultimately comped the mistake. Listen, mistakes happen but “customer service” shouldn’t falter. Ultimately it is the burden of the restaurant to bring the customer what they ordered and properly identify it. Navigating “the customer is always right” fiasco can be a challenge internally, but should be delivered smoothly and with a smile. It’s really quite fucking simple. Catch me around town, but not at Krog Street.