Sherman's Food Adventures: Potluck Hawker Eatery

Potluck Hawker Eatery

For a city that is so diverse with Asian cuisine, some of them are sorely underrepresented.   These include Malaysian, Indonesian and Filipino.  So why not open up a place that dishes up hawker-style street food representing those foods with also a dash of Thai for good measure.  Yes, we've seen this before with Manis in Surrey, but nothing like it in Vancouver, especially on the West side.  Also, with Chef Justin Cheung at the helm (of Longtail Kitchen fame) to bring it all together, it appears to be a recipe for success (especially at a reasonable price-point).  With that in mind, Mijune and I tried out the entire menu (yes, that is what Mijune does) to do a thorough assessment of the place.

Okay, we were served a few things before we got to the Salted Egg Yolk Fried Chicken Sando, however, this is THE thing to get here hands-down.  Consisting of a deep-fried chicken thigh dressed with salted egg yolk garlic butter nestled in grilled Fife Bakery milk bread, it was further amped with cereal crumb, green mango slaw and tamarind chili jam.  OMG.  I wasn't going to eat it all, but I had to.  It was my duty to honour such a delicious creation!  Buttery and lightly crispy, the fluffy milk bread was nicely contrasted by the crunchy salted egg yolk spiked chicken.  The chicken itself was supremely juicy and was complimented perfectly by the crunchy and tangy slaw as well as the sweet spiced tamarind jam.  Foodgasm at its best and only available from 3:00pm - 5:00pm during hawker hour.

The chicken sando can be had with their Malaysian Shaker Fries for $3.00 extra and they are worth every nickle (because the penny doesn't exist anymore...).  These were tossed with ample sugar,
dried galangal powder, rice powder, salt, chili and fried curry leaves.  It was served with ketchup but I found it to go really well with their house-made sambal as well.  Although the fries themselves were of the frozen krinkle cut variety, they were fried perfectly crispy.  As such, it help up and stayed crispy throughout.  Loved the sweetness and extra layer of flavour provided by the sugar.

The tastiness continued with the PFC Chicken Wings dressed in fish caramel sauce.  To be frank, I thought the wings didn't look like much when it arrived, but looks were definitely deceiving.  Coated with rice flour, these wings were appealingly crispy and almost light in texture.  The crunch gave way to tender chicken where the juices were definitely flowing.  The sweet umaminess of fish caramel (
pandan infused palm sugar, sesame and dried chili) really came through while a touch of spice kept things in balance.  Definitely addictive and immediately has become one of the best Asian-style wings in the city in my opinion.

One item that may have needed a bit more depth-of-flavour was Mama Cheung's Laksa.  Okay, I'm not here to insult anyone's mom as the broth was the ideal viscosity being rich and creamy.  There was also appealing aromatics as well as a touch of background spice.  What really could've elevated the dish, they already had in their kitchen - the house-made sambal.  The fermented shrimp paste as well as the added spice would've given the broth more depth and complexity.  We did add this after-the-fact and it greatly improved the flavours.  It could've been served on the side, but also should've been added to the broth at the beginning.  Oh, and that Thai Iced Tea in the background...  On point with just the right amount of sweetness.

Showing off some serious wok-skills, the Nasi Goreng featured discernible grains of chewy rice that were smoky and nutty.  Displaying a good amount of wok hei, the rice was also not very greasy (which meant they achieved the good wok fry without dousing it in too much oil).  Flavours were layered including caramelization, spice and umaminess.  Nestled within the rice, we found bits of seafood and large bouncy shrimp.  Literally topping it off was a fried egg that still sported a runny yolk.

Continuing with the wok, we thought the Char Kway Teow was even better than the already excellent Nasi Goreng.  Look at it, there were no broken noodles to speak of which meant a few things.  First, the noodles were fresh.  Second, the wok heat was high and the toss was on point where it cooked through the ingredients without destroying the noodles.  Once again, there was a good combination of sweet caramelization, aromatics from just the right amount of grease and savouriness from the combination of soy sauces.

Oh the eating kept going and one dish that looked and tasted familiar was a vegetarian take on the butter beef found at Phnom Penh with the Beet Carpaccio.  Flavours slightly different, but the usual
spicy fish sauce & lime juice, chilies, shallots, fried shallots, mint, cilantro & fresh herbs were all there. Nice acidity provided by the lime juice.  I liked how the beets were sliced thin, yet at the same time, retained some meatiness in texture.  For me, I enjoyed it but since I'm more of a meat guy, I would've loved it with sliced tenderloin.  Personal preferences aside, I can understand that they have to offer some vegetarian options as well.

Another classic dish we had was the Roti Canai with caramelized onion curry dipping sauce.  As much as the roti itself was flaky and crisp with certain appealingly chewy portions, the star of the show was the dip. It was rich with the right thickness so that it would caress each piece of roti that was dipped into it.  Deeply sweet with a touch of spice and plenty of aromatics, I could've honestly taken a full cup of it.  This literally could go with anything and combined with their house-made sambal, one could make an old shoe taste good (quoting Mijune).  Although I'm not into eating old shoes...

Something off their Hawker Hour menu was the Fermented Red Bean Curd Fried Pork Ribs.  These were somewhat reminiscent of the ones you would find at Taiwanese restaurants such as Pearl Castle.  However, these were drier and more subtle in flavour.  These would be good with a beer or two since there was a muted saltiness combined with fermented umaminess.  I actually would've preferred them a bit more moist and less "dry ribs-like".  But the flavour was good.

Something less heavy and in fact, refreshing was the Burmese Shrimp Ceviche.  It featured

cucumber, cherry tomatoes & shrimp lightly pickled in fresh lime juice, fish sauce, chili and dried shrimp powder.  Depending on whether I got a slice of bird's eye chili or not, the impact varied.  Without it, the flavours were mild.  If I did get a chili, it was fairly potent and impactful.  Maybe a bit more lime juice and even more chilis would've been a good addition.  Otherwise, it was fine with crunchy fresh cucumber and delicate shrimp with a sweet snap.

Oh they left one of the most majestic dishes to the end in the Crispy Pata.  I've had quite a few versions at various Filipino restaurants and I have to say this one was legit.  Braised for 3 hours and dried overnight, it was deep fried perfectly with super crispy and air crackling with juicy tender meat underneath.  Sometimes, when pork fat is not prepared properly, it is flabby and not appealing to eat.  This one was so gelatinous and delicate, there was nothing but pure pleasure eating it.  The usual vinegary sweet soy on the side helped cut through the richness.

Of course we had to end things off on a sweet note where we tried the Roti with condensed milk and blueberry compote.  Taking the already flaky and crispy roti and topping it with sweetness made it something completely different than the savoury version.  It was not more of a flaky pancake of sorts.  Hard to describe, but trust me, it was yummy.  That was a common theme with the food we tried as the majority were on point and just utterly delicious.  That sando is going to be elicit long lines in the future.  Quote me on that.  If you are craving something different, in particular, SE Asian eats, go check out Potluck Hawker Eatery.  You won't be disappointed.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Impactful flavours and properly prepared eats
- Reasonable pricing
- That Fried Chicken Sando!

The Bad:
- Could've upped the impact of some dishes (laksa and ceviche)
- Small place, limitations with how much food they can put out at one time


Mishaela said...

I’ve heard from my sources that Manis is closed now :( I’m devastated

Sherman Chan said...

@mishaela Oh no! I just went there with Mijune last year. So sad...

Search this Site