Can this spicy South East Asian supper club succeed as a restaurant? 

In a city where restaurants come and go, Hawkerboi hasn’t just weathered the fad storm, it’s thrived. Beginning life as an anonymous-chef-led secret supper club, it’s secured a dedicated following, built almost entirely on word of mouth.

It was such a success, they were encouraged to open a restaurant permanently, moving into new culinary hub, The Park, JLT, still retaining the trademark lively atmosphere and spicy South East Asian cuisine.

JLT has one of the highest concentrations of ‘good eating’ in Dubai so competition in this part of town is tough. Does the sell-out supper club have what it takes to succeed as a restaurant? Here’s what we thought… 

Located on the first floor, the restaurant makes a fiery first impression with red neon lighting, an intriguing open kitchen, a buzzing outdoor terrace, and stunning views over the park area. 

At the time of our visit, the restaurant didn’t have an alcohol license. Although that’s no longer the case, the Takir lemonade mocktail with edible melt-in-the-mouth tamarind is a great place to start.  

The menu is short without leaving you feeling robbed of choice. And it caters to all dietary wims, from vegans to meat lovers. 

Without hesitation, order the punchy cucumber salad (Dhs45) smothered in tomato chilli dressing and peanuts. Not for the faint-hearted, the roughly-chopped salad is fiery, fresh, and crunchy with just the right burst of acidity.

The truffle and chicken shumai (Dhs62) is so good it practically pops in the mouth bursting with sweetness from the ginger, smokiness from the black vinegar, and a scattering of truffle. 

Oh and bear with us as we swoon over the Angus beef skewers (Dhs65). Three come topped with crispy onions and a nutty Thai chilli dressing served from a pipette, which perfectly balances the flavours and acidic notes.

And then, of course, is the Peking-style roast duck (Dhs220 for half). Ideal for sharing, duck with pancakes is forever the crowd-pleaser and it’s easily one of Hawkerboi’s best signature dishes. The succulent-yet-crispy duck arrives on a large plate with shredded cucumber, spring onion, and sticky hoisin sauce. Fill the smooth steamed pancakes as much as you possibly can for an eye-roll with every bite.  

Don’t skip dessert: the BBQ pineapple (Dhs45) is non-negotiable. A warm, zingy pineapple upside-down pudding served with lemongrass, lime, and mango sorbet acts as a palate cleaner to perfectly end the night.

Verdict: Good vibes and great food. The passionate cooking at Hawkerboi will warm your soul while the friendly staff, affordable prices, and welcoming atmosphere will ensure a swift return.

Hawkerboi, The Park, JLT, Dubai. 6pm to 12am Sun to Thurs, 6pm to 1am, Fri and Sat. @hawker.boi 

Images: Supplied