The premise of having hawker food cooked by robots will likely leave people divided.
On one hand, isn’t hawker food all about the skills and human touch; but with the younger generation not taking up this role, machinery and technology may be the way to go.
I was curious enough to try out Hawkee located on Level 2 of Frasers Tower, in which robotic cooking and artificial intelligence are used to prepare a selection of hawker fare.
There were quite a number of online articles on this initiative, but few actually wrote about the actual taste of the food.
The automated machines in this eatery is called “DIANA”.
Before trying, I was on the fence for this as I believe the cooking hawker food requires the human element, especially with the frying for the wok-hei; while technology could be used to replace certain processes to make life easier for the hawkers.
In my mind I was imaging a certain type of place, though the reality can be slightly off.
First things first, while vending machines are already in place in many parts of Singapore from food courts, fast food restaurants and bubble tea shops, I was surprised to see a physical human taking orders and collecting cash.
Maybe the ordering kiosks were down. Ah, technology.
I was presented with a receipt number, though wasn’t entirely sure if I had to collect the food on my own or the food would be sent to the table. After observing a couple of tables, it was a combination of both. Strange.
Maybe the queue numbering system was down as well.
The hawker food selection includes Hokkien Mee ($6, $8, $10), Crayfish White Bee Hoon ($8, $12), Mala Xiang Guo ($8.90, $12.90, $18.90), Seafood Hor Fun ($7.90), Special Fried Bee Hoon ($7.90), Fried Rice ($7.90), and Fu Zhou Noodles ($7.90).
There are also other rice dishes such as Stir Fry Black Pepper Pork / Beef with Rice ($6.90), Gong Bao Chicken with Rice ($6.90) and Sambal Chilli Prawn with Rice ($8.90).
Interestingly, mostly of the above would require a step of wok-frying if ordered at the hawker centre.
After reading a couple of online reviews, I thought that the Hokkien Mee would have the standard close to a food court. But unfortunately, it was not even there (sorry).
The essence of a good plate of Hokkien Mee – the rich prawn stock, the fragrance, the stickiness of the noodles, were all not quite there. The dish was hot but the wok-hei was missing.
As for consolation, the portion was good, prawns were considered fresh, and the sambal chilli was delicious – which definitely came in useful.
The Seafood Hor Fun ($7.90) fared slightly better (but that is not saying much), and there was weird sweetish aftertaste and just that something missing.
Office workers may choose to come to Hawkee for the convenience, novelty or the air-conditioned environment. But to be honest I think the food has to be further fine-tuned because really… Amoy Street Food Centre which is full of hawker gems, is just opposite.
Frasers Tower, 182 Cecil Street, #02-01/02, Singapore 069547
Opening Hours: 11am – 8pm (Mon – Fri), 11am – 2:30pm (Sat), Closed Sun