This past Sunday's Chron review is devoted to James Syhabout's new Asian street food eatery, Hawker Fare (2300 Webster Street, Oakland). Mr. Bauer enjoys the low-key, urban vibe Syhabout's created, and the personal touches in the decor from someone who grew up just a few blocks away. Also he says that executive chef Justin Yu and Syhabout are "kindred spirits," and Yu's experience working for David Chang's Momofuku empire appears to have given him special skill with creating the perfect bowl of jasmine rice. "The rice alone is worth the price of admission," writes Bauer. "I'd be hard pressed to remember anyone who does it better, and this is what makes the dishes come alive."
Of the choices on the short menu, Bauer's a fan of the Laotian-style papaya salad, the poached chicken rice bowl ("It's a dish that shows the kitchen at its best."), and the vadouvan tofu, "which is as refined as other dishes are rustic." All told: two and a half stars, and he makes special note that the servers, "are helpful and well trained, as if they had gone through their paces at the more elevated Commis." [Chron, Earlier slideshow]