Hawkerman by Ben Yeo: A Must-have or a Fad? Here’s What We Think

If you’re a foodie, you’d have heard of Hawkerman.

Opened by celebrity Ben Yeo, the multi-talented actor and host came out with an ingenious idea to put several popular hawker foods in a dish: and when I say popular, I don’t mean the generic food you find in hawker centres.

The foods are by popular hawkers that have made foodies all over Singapore queue for hours: for example, the Hokkien Mee is the famous one from Kim’s Place Seafood Restaurant, and the fried half spring chicken is from Tenderfresh (which needs no introduction until you live in a cave).

The end result is a dish aptly called Bao Ka Liao, which means “Everything Included”. Here’s how it looks like on their Facebook Page:

Image: Facebook (Hawkerman)

Feeding two, it comprises seven dishes: Fried Half Spring Chicken, Hokkien Mee, Hokkien Popiah, Citrus Plum Watermelon, Fried Carrot Cake, Mauh chee with Kimchi (what?!) and Salted Egg Yolk Fried Chicken.

So, does it look similar in real life? Thankfully, it does (I’m looking at you, McDonald’s).

Now, with seven dishes, how does it fare?

Let’s break it down.

The half spring chicken is just like any Tenderfresh chicken you can find in any outlet, so you can more or less expect the crispy skin and its tender meat. Don’t expect it to be any different.

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I was expecting a tad more from the Hokkien Mee, since it’s supposed to be a renowned one. The amount of seafood is generous, but other than that, it’s almost like any Hokkien Mee you can find in any hawker centre. Maybe I was expecting too much, or maybe dishes like this just can’t be emulated.

The Hokkien Popiah is the one that, well, was the last to be eaten—which says a lot about its taste. While the skin is perfect (chewy and a little sweet), it doesn’t match well with everything in the dish. It could be that Popiah is not my thing.

The citrus plum watermelon is basically watermelon with sour plum powder. That’s it. I don’t even know why it’s there.

Now, here’s the star of the dish: the fried carrot cake. The only difference between Joseph Schooling and me is that he can swim better than me—other than that, we both love fried carrot cake. The one in Hawkerman is fried to perfection: with the right amount of egg that isn’t overcooked, it complements the carrot cake like how Joseph Schooling complements swimming pool. It’s indeed a match made in Colin and May.

If you need to put a value to the dish, $31 belongs to the fried carrot cake and $1.90 belongs to the rest #justsaying

Now, moving on, the mau chee with kimchi is a weird combination that might suit some, but not me. Firstly, I’m not a mau chee person and secondly, I prefer Kim Ng than kimchi. So no kimchi for me.

The last dish, the salted egg fried chicken, seems like someone who just discovered fidget spinner in 2020: while the sauce is generous and goes well with the crispy chicken, it seems a little too late to the game.

Who else still loves salted egg yolk except our writer Zhi Hao, who’s still listening to Titanic’s My Heart will Move On? Or maybe it’s still trending, so it’s not them but me.

Overall, would I go for a second round? Given that I went there on a Sunday afternoon and it was empty af (serious), I would only because I don’t like to queue for my food (FYI, the queue in Gong Cha is still crazy).

But should anyone make a trip to Paya Lebar just to try out this $32.90 dish? Maybe yes, but just once: after that, there would be more makan places for you to try out in Singpost Centre.

Like, for example, Gong Cha.

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This article was first published on goodyfeed.com

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