Empire Building

James Syhabout to Open Asian Street Food Eatery: Hawker Fare

James Syhabout
James Syhabout Photo: John Lee

Big Oakland news this morning as James Syhabout announces the upcoming opening of Hawker Fare, a casual Southeast Asian street food restaurant near downtown at 2300 Webster Street — just a hop and a skip from Plum, and in the former digs of Manyda Thai. The Commis chef-owner, who took home a Food & Wine Best New Chef honor last year, says he wanted a place where he could cook and eat the food his mother used to make for him as a child (his mom actually owned Mayda Thai for seven years and has also been cooking nearby at Davan). “It is the food I miss most, and the food I want to eat day in and day out,” he says, “You can easily expect me to be at Hawker Fare after a long day at Commis having a rice bowl and a cold beer.” The executive chef day to day will be Justin Yu, who joined the team at Commis this month after working at Momofuku Ssäm Bar and Double Crown in New York, and later at Laiola and Quince in S.F.

The menu will focus on rice bowls and what Syhabout says is his “personal take” on Asian street fare, with every dish priced under $10. There will be snack items like spicy fried chicken wings, and salted and candied cashews with dried shrimp, as well as things like kao mun gai, a Haianese-style chicken rice bowl featuring poached chicken in aromatics served over rice cooked in chicken stock and rendered fat, with ginger, fermented mung beans, and fresh cut cucumbers and herbs on the side. The kitchen will be using all locally grown, organic Asian produce, including freshly dug peanuts and sugar cane when available.

It sounds like they’ll be open for lunch initially — possibly within weeks, but still TBA though we’ll be watching their Twitter — and it’s going to be BYOB for a while, with the start date for dinner little further off.

Also, when they open, you can expect a young and hip Oakland vibe, with music over the speakers like The Coup, Blackalicious, and Handsome Boy Modeling School.

It’s worthy of mention that James, who grew up in Oakland, says the West Grand neighborhood where Hawker Fare is opening is his ‘hood, where he spent the majority of his young life, and he’s excited to get to “hang out with the ‘gang’ again just like old times.”

Update: Syhabout jokes with the Scoop that taking over his mother’s restaurant was “the only way I could get her to retire.”

Hawker Fare
- 2300 Webster Street, Oakland (at 23rd) - 510.832.8896 - Open for lunch Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., dinner Monday through Saturday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., or possibly later - Opening TBA

How to Pronounce ‘Syhabout’ and Various Local Chefs’ Names [Grub Street]
Syhabout’s Serving Rocks at Commis [Grub Street]
Syhabout Hangs Out With Appleman and Choi in NYC [Grub Street]
James Syhabout Believes in Always Being a Commis [Grub Street]

James Syhabout to Open Asian Street Food Eatery: Hawker Fare