In a food eats food world where croissants stuffed with fried chicken and doughnuts filled with ice-cream are the norm, it's easy to forget that sometimes it's the simple stuff that's best. If you need an example of this practice in play, look no further than Hawker Boys.
Boasting a humble menu, Hawker Boys features contemporary Southeast Asian flavours with unpretentious homemade touches. Homegrown, hand-chopped lemongrass is used to make their fragrant lemongrass chicken, while the crumbed spicy chicken is dry-rubbed and soaked before cooking. Sticky barbecue pork is marinated for a minimum of 48 hours and prepared char siu-style (a Cantonese method of flavouring and preparing barbecue pork).
One of the most popular menu items is the unassuming wonton noodle soup, served with egg noodles, chicken and prawn wontons, bok choy and a warming chicken broth ($12, $2 extra with char siu pork). It's made from scratch every morning and, needless to say, there's an unmistakable, borderline obsessive, amount of care that goes into every component of the dish.
Other highlights of Hawker Boys' no-frills menu includes the devilishly soft and crunchy soft shell crab 'bun me' ($13). A finger-licking combination of generous soft shell crab, fried shallots, creamy Sriracha mayo, coriander, spring onion and slaw, it's only fair to warn you that this simple sambo may find its way into your weekly work lunch schedule. Vegetarians will be more than pleased with options like tender mixed mushroom skewers ($7 for two) and crispy fried tofu rice paper rolls ($7 for two) also on offer.
The bright, fittingly hawker-style interior, designed by STUDIO Y, is clean and cosy. Featuring a playful pink wall mural, low hanging lamps and pale timber furnishings, you can choose between a private table or the central communal bench.
Is Hawker Boys breaking new foodie ground or shattering sweet 'n' savoury glass ceilings? Not a chance. But against some of Melbourne's most outlandish, Insta-perfect dishes, Hawker Boys can easily stand their ground.