Anyone who visits HWKR knows that it’s important to come bearing a big appetite. A’Beckett Street’s new hawker-style food hall is the next chapter in Melbourne’s ever-evolving food scene that keeps even the keenest foodie on their toes with a rotating cast of restaurant pop-ups every three months.
You’ll find HWKR on the ground floor of the Eq. Tower. The space, designed by the talented team at Brandworks and Craig Tan Architects, plays on a traditional hawker-style market setup, jazzed up with neon lights and an abundance of bright colours. In true hawker fashion, visitors pick their poison from side-by-side illuminated windows and take a seat at the sleek, communal tables in the centre. Don’t forget to snag your seat with a ‘chope’ – packets of tissues that you will be gifted on arrival, used to reserve tables.
HWKR opened with a bang in early February, inviting an all-star cast to the table. The beloved Melbourne institution, Rice Paper Scissors took the opportunity to introduce its latest spinoff, Khao at the food centre. Their menu is inspired by one of the most-asked questions, “Why no rice at Rice Paper Scissors?” Their rice-based menu maintains their well-known pizzazz with an updated flair, inspired by Balinese and Philippino culinary traditions.
MasterChef is responsible for two of HWKR’s current tenants – the first being 2017 winner, Diana Chan, in her solo venture, Chanteen. Her menu revolves around making everything fresh and from scratch – which is why her home-made satay sauce, crafted from her father’s secret recipe, is a must-try.
2015 contestant, Reynold Poernomo, takes the cake (literally) for the second MasterChef space at HWKR with KOI Dessert Bar and Monkey’s Corner. The Sydney-based venue is popping up to bring Melbourne a sweet serve – think roasted ganache with brown butter gelato or perhaps French earl grey cremeaux with strawberry and white chocolate.
A Hong Kong stalwart, Bread & Beast, is also premiering its menu of sandwiches, bar snacks and edgy eats in HWKR’s first instalment. Don’t expect to see conventional toasties and rolls, rather beer battered tempura shrimp burgers and 18-hour slow cooked beef brisket sandwiches doused in chu hao mayo.
One permanent fixture is Manymore, a social enterprise that donates 90% of its profits to food-related charities and 10% to the YMCA, so you can feel good about ordering that second (and third) Mai Tai.
HWKR has upped the ante on Melbourne’s food hall game, and with new talents popping up all over the calendar, there will never be a dull moment.