SINGAPORE — Food guru KF Seetoh took to social media vigorously on Monday (Jan. 16) after Urban Hawker was named in not one but two “Best of” lists on the Eater NY website.
“It’s not so easy to get on that well-known Hottest New Restn list or Eater’s respected Essential 38 Restn list. You cannot invite them for food testing and assessment (just like Makansutra)Mr. Seetoh wrote with understandable pride.
He added that Urban Hawker, which had a soft opening on September 21, 2022, reached both lists in less than four months “despite Eater not ranking restaurants with less than 6 months in the industry.”
“I’m so incredibly proud of our peddlers,” he added. “Greetings to all of you. It’s quite something to be loved and recognized by New Yorkers.”
The founder of Makansutra opened the Singapore-style food court in New York last year, bringing 11 Singaporean hawkers to 135 West 50th Street, within walking distance of Times Square in Manhattan.
Urban Hawker is now in second place on Eater’s “The 15 hottest new restaurants in Manhattan, January 2023”which was published earlier this month.
“From concept to completion, this new food court between Times Square and Rockefeller Center took several years – and input from Anthony Bourdain was involved – to try and recreate the feel of a hawker food mall in Singapore. From a possible collection of vendors, the counters include Hainan Jones (Hainanese chicken, steamed or fried), Mr. Fried Rice (stingray fried rice) and Mamak’s Corner (Indian food as served in Singapore). Oh, and there’s a full bar specializing in gin drinks at the 51st Street entrance,” the caption reads.
On the “The 38 Essential Restaurants in New York City” The list, updated Jan. 10, states that Urban Hawker is “arguably the liveliest and most unique food court in the city, with a majority of the stalls inspired by – or directly descended from – Singapore’s street food scene.
Highlights include fragrant Hainanese chicken (poached or broiled) served with rice and broth at Hainan Jones, coconut cakes and pastries from Lady Wong, and Malaysian-style Indian dishes from Mamak’s Corner.
More recently, the food court has been written in The New York Times.
While critic Pete Wells, in his Jan. 17 piece, acknowledged areas where Urban Hawker still has room for improvement, he nonetheless called it “a vibrant bazaar of Singaporean fare.”
He also wrote: “What sets Urban Hawker apart from all the other New York dining venues is that the chefs take center stage….
This is a refreshingly humane take on street food, and we have Mr. Seetoh and Mr. Bourdain to thank for that. /TISG
KF Seetoh on manpower shortage: Singaporeans are ‘prepared…for higher goals’
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