Ekachai (Southeast Asian) – Hawley Wharf, Camden

HALAL STATUS Halal chicken (no cross-contamination) • Alcohol served

Although we visited Ekachai in 2018 only a month after it had opened in King’s Cross, and while we did rate it an above average 3.5/5, there was certainly enough there to show potential.

Ekachai Halal Restaurant Street Food Hawley Wharf, CamdenHaving concluded our first review satisfied that their food was “as fresh as you’d like… with some dishes offering strong, punchy flavours and others rotating around the delicate and subtle”, we return three year’s later wondering how they’ll fair this time round.

Delivering “honest and authentic flavours from Southeast Asia”, the brand itself is well-established, with a number of sites scattered across London.

Ekachai Halal Restaurant Street Food Hawley Wharf, Camden

Located in Hawley Wharf Camden

This latest one opened very recently in the huge complex of Hawley Wharf (it also boasts a number of other Halal brands across its two floors) in the very heart of Camden, north London.

Conveniently accessible via Water Lane Entrance (West), which is adjacent to the iconic Camden Lock Railway Bridge on the junction of Chalk Farm Road, Camden High Street and Castlehaven Road, the commercial kitchen is a large and spacious one, with plenty of seating available.

LITTLE PLATES

Ekachai Halal Restaurant Street Food Hawley Wharf, Camden

Crispy Squid With Sichuan Peppercorn – Lightly floured & fried crispy squid with Sichuan peppercorn, fried garlic, chilli & lime, £7.00

RECOMMENDED

Ekachai Halal Restaurant Street Food Hawley Wharf, CamdenFreshly plucked out of the frier were these utterly scrumptious Crispy Squid with Sichuan Peppercorn.

Not only had the strips of squid retained just that right level of chewiness of perfectly adjudged cephalopods, but the delicately light and non-greasy batter proved beautifully crisp and airy.

While making sure to cover these beauties in plenty of that fresh zesty lime juice, we couldn’t get enough of these when had with the sprinkling of the crushed sichuan peppercorn, the fried garlic, the diced chilli, and that sweet chilli sauce.

In short, plenty of flavour profiles going on here, but ones that came together to make these an addictive eat.

Ekachai Halal Restaurant Street Food Hawley Wharf, Camden

Aya Goreng – Malaysian fried chicken marinated with lemongrass, turmeric and galangal, £5.50

Although these Aya Goreng chicken wings were small, they were again expertly cooked, being served moist and succulent on the inside, and crispy-cum-crunchy on the out, but without being overly greasy.

With the turmeric and galangal combining to provide both the attractive deep red colour, as well as the herbaceous flavour, these went really well with the smoky peanut dip.

WOK FRIED RICE & NOODLES

Ekachai Halal Restaurant Street Food Hawley Wharf, Camden

Kai Krapow – Ground chicken with chilli, fine beans, lime leaves and Thai basil. Served with jasmine rice and traditionally eaten with a fried egg (add £1), £9.00

RECOMMENDED

This classic Thai dish of Kai Krapow, though designated ‘2-chillis’ hot on the menu, was quite bearable, with essentially three elements, all of which came together in harmony to deliver a delicious plate.

At the heart of it all, of course, was that delightfully tender grounded chicken, powered by a well-seasoned chilli-based sauce, and plenty of fine beans to offer some textural contrast.

Coupled with a dome of fragrant jasmine rice, which wasn’t just sticky but also boasted an almost fried texture on the outside, it was the yolky richness of the fried egg which brought the entire thing together.

Ekachai Halal Restaurant Street Food Hawley Wharf, Camden

Char Kway Teow (Prawn) – Panang style wok fried flat rice noodles with egg, chilli, soy sauce, bean sprouts and chives, £8.50

RECOMMENDED

Ekachai Halal Restaurant Street Food Hawley Wharf, CamdenWe couldn’t get enough of how silky smooth and soft the flat rice noodles were in this Char Kway Teow.

Not only had the ‘breath’ of the wok managed to impart in them a smoky aroma, but the chilli flakes added a touch of much needed heat, the crispy dry fish flakes some umami goodness, and the bean sprouts a little crunch with every bite.

What’s more, the prawns were glazed in the same rich sauce that enveloped the rest of the dish. Simply superb!

RICE DISHES

Ekachai Halal Restaurant Street Food Hawley Wharf, Camden

Nasi Lemak – Fragrant coconut rice with ayam goreng, sambal prawns, cucumber and peanuts. Add and a fried egg (£1), £10.50

We only found out towards the end that there was a little residual sauce, courtesy perhaps of the sambal prawns therein, at the bottom, which, had there been far more of, would have made this Nasi Lemak better than it was.

And though it was a perfectly respectable bowl, what with the relatively freshly-cooked sticky rice, the aforementioned crispy Ayam Goreng wings, fried onions, copious amount of peanuts, as well as tender prawns, the entire thing never really came together into a coherent whole. This was desperately calling out for either more sambal sauce or the option of ordering some.

NOODLE SOUPS

Ekachai Halal Restaurant Street Food Hawley Wharf, Camden

Curry Laksa (Chicken) – Choice of mussels, prawns, calamari or shredded chicken with vermicelli & egg noodles in a thick curry laksa gravy made of coconut milk, mixed spices and herbs, £9.50

Ekachai Halal Restaurant Street Food Hawley Wharf, CamdenThere was plenty happening in this piping hot chicken Curry Laksa, with its two types of noodles expertly judged.

And though the curry itself was mildly flavoured, being more buttery than anything else, this again was absolutely screaming out for some fiery sambal sauce which, surprisingly, hasn’t been made available by Ekachai, and something they’d do well to offer as an option.

In any case, with all its constituent parts, ranging from the prawns to the strips of chicken, all superly executed, the entire thing did become somewhat uniform in taste by the end.

THE ROAR
Ekachai
4.5 FTL's Roar
4.5 Pride's Roar (1 Roar)
Alcohol/ Pork?
  • NO/ NO
FSA HYGIENE RATING
Last Checked: 25/09/2021
Facilities
  • DISABLED FACILITIES
Summary
Would our return to Ekachai in Hawley Wharf Camden surpass the potential they showed back in 2018 during our review of their branch in London's King's Cross?

While circumstances couldn't be more similar, with both being reviewed barely a month after having opened, the two locations are very different, with the former a commercial kitchen located in a multi-complex, and the latter a traditional restaurant.

And though the setup for the latter you might think would be more conducive for maintaining higher standards so as to produce better food, in this case, our experience of Ekachai as a commercial kitchen easily trumped its restaurant counterpart.

Not only did the food come out ultra-fresh, but was far more bold and daring in its flavours in comparison to the more timid dishes we had the first time round. A thoroughly enjoyable experience, and one we'd recommend you go try if you're in the area.

Menu Recommendation

Starter - Crispy Squid With Sichuan Peppercorn

Main - Kai Krapow/ Char Kway Teow

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Ekachai Camden
Unit M200, Foodhall Floor 2, Hawley Wharf, 3 Water Ln., London NW1 8JZ.

W: www.ekachai.co.uk

Opening Hours: Mon-Thur 12:00-18:00 | Fri-Sat 12:00-20:00 | Sun 11:30-22:00

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