Good news for all rice-bowl lovers: Oakland's popular Thai-influenced Hawker Fare, from chef-owner James Syhabout (Commis, Box & Bells, The Dock at Linden Street), is taking over the massive space at 18th and Valencia that was recently vacated by Amber Dhara (680 Valencia Street), as Inside Scoop reports. This could spell great success for Syhabout in his first expansion to San Francisco, given the lower price point of Hawker Fare's Southeast Asian street food, compared to Amber Dhara, and the humble but easy-to-like nature of the menu. This will, however, be the biggest of Syhabout's restaurants to date with seating for up to 300, as Eater notes.
Hawker Fare originally opened at Webster Street and Grand Avenue near Oakland's Uptown district in 2011, and it was Syhabout's first casual concept after earning raves, and Oakland first Michelin star, at Commis. He's gone on to open two more casual-concept restaurants, but Hawker Fare remains closest to his heart as it's based on the cuisine of his homeland though he grew up in Oakland, his family comes from Northern Thailand and his mother ran a Thai restaurant in Oakland for many years.
Syhabout tells the Scoop that the Hawker Fare menu's been evolving beyond simple rice bowl and larb dishes, and at the new restaurant you'll likely see more influence from his native Isan region, near the Laotian border, inspired by a recent trip to Thailand. “Hawker Fare is who I am,” Syhabout says.
Amber Dhara closed in July after just two years in business, during much of which it struggled to fill seats. A run-in with the health department earlier this years was likely the last nail in the coffin.
Look for the new Hawker Fare to debut in early 2015, complete with a full liquor license, and possibly a separate bar concept on the upstairs mezzanine.
Hawker Fare - 680 Valencia Street at 18th - Coming in 2015