Hawker Fare Restaurant By Chef James Syhabout

Hawker Fare, James Syhabout's second act

Celebrated chef James Syhabout could have opened any kind of follow-up to his first restaurant, Commis.

But with Hawker Fare, a casual place serving Southeast Asian-style street food, he demonstrates his commitment to cooking that's both completely personal and outrageously good.

Green papaya salad prickles with heat and the funk of fish sauce ($6.50). Siamese peanuts are sticky with musty, aromatic shrimp paste ($3).

Main courses follow a smart, simple formula: rice, augmented by protein and brightened by fresh herbs. The best is kao mun gai ($9), a quintessential Singaporean dish, here rendered as slices of juicy poached chicken breast, chicken-fat-slicked rice, and a dish of salted mung bean sauce for dipping.

Competition comes in the form of 24-hour pork belly, the slices of meat at once crisp and yielding, enhanced by the addition of a goldenrod-yolked fried egg ($9), or the beef short rib ($9.50), rich nuggets of meat marinated in coconut milk.

For dessert, twirls of condensed-milk-flavored Straus soft-serve come in three manifestations: on a cone, as an affogato, and in a sundae, joined by palm-sugar caramel, lime whipped cream, candied adzuki beans and puffed rice.

Headed out at the end of a meal, we half-expected to find the bustling streets of Bangkok.

Hawker Fare, 2300 Webster St. (at 23rd St.), Oakland; 510-832-8896 or hawkerfare.com