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Potluck Hawker Eatery

I have been eyeing this spot for a while now, so I don’t know why it took me so long to get here. Afterall, as soon as I finished one visit with a friend, I was quick to make a reservation to return with my parents.

They serve up South East Asian cuisine similar to the flavours I remembered as a child. Ingredients and seasonings recalled long ago, growing up in and when revisiting my birth place of Brunei. Therefore after confirming my appreciation for the spot, I had to bring my parents through to confirm if my impressions were indeed correct. Therefore, the below is almost their entire menu eaten across two visits, 2 weeks apart.

The restaurant’s aesthetic is whimsical with bright neon colours, vibrant patterned wallpaper, and wooden cut outs of seafood and vegetables featured in a double handed pot. The shelves in between double as storage and decor, with the bulk of their stock lined up en masse. Cans of Milo chocolate milk powder, packets of sweet Chinese sausage, bags of vermicelli, and bottles of Sirarcha; to name a few.

Be sure to stop by their toilets for their durian wallpaper. So fun!

Looking at the menu I recognized and wanted to try everything. Another sign indicating that I will be back sooner than later.

We began with a couple of drinks, and like everything else, it all read like it was all worth trying. The Coconut Justin was a mix of Tequila, sherry, lime, galangal, and young coconut juice. It was an easy drinker, going down like the punch it reminded me of.

The spiked Thai tea that was notably listed at $8.88. It featured their house spiced rum with northern Thai spices, Thai black tea, and condensed milk. It was peculiarly set with one lacquer chopstick poking out of the glass. When asked, the server assured me it was meant to be. However, I found no use or pageantry purposes for it. Especially as it was double the length of the glass itself. As for the way it drinks, the chopstick was a hindrance, and I didn’t find that the Thai tea necessarily needed alcohol, as one took away from the other.

The Green Papaya salad served as a great palate refresher, and side to the rich flavours below. It is shredded and pounded green papaya, green beans, carrots in mortar and pestle, crushed peanuts, and baby shrimp powder; all in sweet and spicy dressing. Fresh and tangy, that turns hot and spicy quickly thereafter.

Naturally, I don’t miss out on a good Laksa so had to try MaMa Cheung’s rendition here, today. It was made using two types of noodles, similar to the style I have enjoyed in Malaysia. A thick egg noodle and a thinner rice noodle, along side prawn, fish cake, boiled egg, and beansprouts; in a housemade lemongrass, shellfish, curry coconut broth. The broth had the perfect, just tingling spice level. It ate comforting, yet bold. A tad on the sweet side, but very similar to the authentic versions I have had in Malaysia. I would come back just to relive this taste. Much like the noodles below.

I would travel great distances for their Char Kway Teow. Fresh tapioca and rice sheet noodles stirfried with prawn, fish cake, Chinese sausage, bean sprout, and chives. This one was exactly like how I had it growing up. Soft noodles with plenty of textures and elements to mix and match bites.

When I saw salted egg yolk on the menu, I had to have it. The Salted Egg Yolk Chicken Sando was good on its own, but was out shone by the other more intricate dishes above and below. The large slab of crunchy and juicy chicken breast did not disappoint, but I didn’t get enough salted egg yolk flavour, and could have used more of the slaw to add cream and freshness to the sandwich. This would have been a great option as a quick bite for lunch, rather than an entree for dinner. But as I stated earlier, I had to have it. Coconut milk fried chicken, brushed with egg yolk butter, and a green apple slaw; all between a cream bun. We did add on a side of their Malaysian shaker fries for $3 more. The fries were crispy and well seasoned, the bedmate to the burger.

The Potluck Crispy Pata was a show stopper, every other table stopped to see what it was that was being placed down at our table. It was certainly the priciest item on the menu. A whole braised and fried pork hock, served with Mang Tomas and sawsawan. This one was definitely inspired by Filipino cuisine. And as a result was similar in dry texture and hard chew as Filipino style crispy pork. But the two types of dipping sauces helped to alleviate some of this with a sweeter gravy and tangy vinegar based dip.

And now the following are the dishes we had from my subsequent visit, written with the aid of my parents and our similar South East Asian palate.

The Potluck Fried Chicken Wings was a table favourite. Of the three flavour options we had the fish sauce caramel with chilli flakes, coriander, sesame, and fried shallots. This was quality chicken made crispier with the glaze of tangy fish sauce. A very unique and memorable flavour I would like to have more of. Definitely order multiple servings to be able to have more than one wing to yourself. .

We were split on the Roti Canai. Hand-pulled Malaysian flatbread with caramelized onion curry dipping sauce. We liked the flaky sheets alright, despite them being on the oilier side. But could go either way on the curry dip. The curry just didn’t quite hit our nostalgia point with the balance of sweet to spicy.

The Seafood Nasi Goreng we found a little flat and the serving stingy for the asking price. The noodles had a great texture, but we found the seasonings a little on the bland side. But presentation wise it was spot on to the renditions found at many Malaysian cafes. Indonesian style fried rice with house special soy, topped with kerupuk and a wok fried egg.

The Nasi Halibut Cheeks were one of our favourite dishes. The dish allows you to curate the perfect bite from an assembly of traditional Malaysian coconut rice, tomato, cucumber, egg, peanuts, ikan bilis (anchovies), kerupuk (deep fried cracker made from starch), house-made caramelized shallot sambal (chilli sauce or paste), and stir fried Haida Gwaii halibut cheeks. It was made spicy with the paste, given crunch with the peanuts, and had freshness with the raw vegetables. A dish so cohesive we ordered the similar special of the day, below.

The Nasi Pork Rendang is the same traditional “Nasi Lemak” bowl above with coconut rice, tomato, cucumber, egg, peanuts, ikan bilis, and kerupuk. But featuring pork collar simmered in rich coconut curry paste and served with white beets and radish achar (Malaysian pickles). Another build your own bowl with tender pork and a sweeter curry flavour to pair with all the salt and spicy; crispy and crunchy bits. Between the two bowls I preferred the fish.

In conclusion, my glowing review is absolutely bias. The above probably won’t taste the same for you, as my love for it is tied to my childhood, and the memory of it being exactly as I can recall. A treat and now one of my favourite restaurants to date.

Potluck Hawker Eatery
3424 Cambie St, Vancouver, BC V5Z 2W8
(604) 423-9344

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