Standing in single file is muscle memory to a Londoner. Where there’s a wait, there’s a will to make it organised. Despite our willingness to queue for everything and nothing, it’s very rarely without a degree of resentment. This is why you might pause when you approach Hawker’s Kitchen. There’s often a polite queue outside the tiny canteen-cum-takeaway Malaysian spot in King’s Cross, alongside a merry-go-round of delivery drivers. Red flags for some but for others, a sure sign that something very right is going on here.
That something is Hawker’s Kitchen’s roti. Not completely surprising given that the head chef came from Roti King. While not the only thing that’s worth travelling for, the outstanding flatbreads—freshly made, ludicrously flaky, and a world-class vehicle for any sauce and curry—are simply sensational.
They’re made at the back of the restaurant—kneaded and slapped onto a hot plate for everyone to watch and admire. Said flatbread factory takes up about a third of Hawker’s very limited space. The name does say it’s a kitchen, after all. The rest of the elbow-bashing, apology-filled space is taken up by 15 or so people at tables sitting on a variety of stools and chairs. This is a functional room made for huddling in and leaning over channa masala, kway teow goreng, or beef rendang. You scoop, you briefly look up, and then you go back in for more.
You can settle in at Hawker’s Kitchen if you’re patient enough. And it’s BYOB. But with the beady eyes of the queue outside looking in, you’re probably not going to spend more than 45 minutes. This is a marvellous midweek dinner. One that’s very much worth waiting for.
Freshly made and warm from the hot plate, this roti will supersede all your expectations. Flaky and intricate, warm and nourishing. Part craft and part ghee, waiting to be ripped and dipped into sauce. You should tear and share this bread with everything on your table. Don’t forget to get some sambal on the side.
Much of Hawker’s Kitchen’s food is not for the faint hearted and all of their curries are fragrant slaps of flavour and spice. We lean towards the lamb or the fish as both tend to be a little more tender, though if you aren’t looking for a bowl of something bracing—beads of sweat on your brow are likely—then the channa masala is a must.
A rendang that truly sings with lemongrass. Perhaps it could be a little less chewy and perhaps the sauce could be a little looser. But we’re sticklers. This is a delicious bowl. It comes with rice but we’d recommend swapping out for roti.
Compared to other laksas in London, this one is just fine. But given it’s just over a tenner and could feed, by our estimations, certainly two people (and maybe three), it’s still a solid order. Plenty of juicy prawns and a warming coconut milk-heavy broth.