Photos C/O Kyle West
What it is
I’ve lived in Hamilton for a few years now and while I appreciate the city, I still occasionally miss living in the greater Toronto area. One of the things I miss most is Hakka food, a staple in GTA strip malls.
While Hakka food is the cuisine of the Hakka people, chances are if you’re eating Hakka food in the GTA, you’re probably eating the South Asian take on it. A cuisine unto itself, Indian Hakka food was created when Hakka communities immigrated to India, making it more of a Chinese-Indian fusion.
If you’ve got the hankering and you’re in Hamilton this weekend, I would strongly recommend trying Hamilton Hakka, a halal Indian-Chinese joint right at the corner of Hess Street South and York Boulevard.
Hamilton Hakka offers a great meal for an even better price.
How to get there from Westdale/Ainslie Wood
You’ve got a few options. Either take the 5, 51 or 1 bus from Sterling Street and Forsyth Avenue heading east, or take the 5 or 10 heading east from Main Street West and Emerson Street. Either way, stop at Main Street West and Queen Street North, and then continue down Main Street West until you hit Hess Street South. Head north on Hess Street South until you hit York Boulevard, and it should be on your left.
Hamilton Hakka is a great place to try lots of different foods without breaking the bank, with all of the dishes costing less than $10. I would highly recommend splitting a few dishes with a few other people so you can try a range of their options.
My friend and I split the keema samosas, a plate of noodles, chilli paneer, two servings of naan and rice pudding, which cost us about $12 each, with leftovers. The real challenge was choosing what to get; everything sounded delicious, with tons of beef, chicken, fish or vegetarian options available.
What to get
This is the type of place to go to with a lot of friends, because you have to try everything. In addition to the Hakka dishes, Hamilton Hakka also serves more typical South Asian dishes such as the classic butter chicken and some underrated vegetarian options, like baigan bharta (roasted eggplant) and aloo gobi (curried potato and cauliflower).
The keema samosa, a fried pastry stuffed with ground lamb, was absolutely perfect, with a perfect crisp and balance of spices. They also serve it with a fantastic mint-cilantro chutney, which was freshly made and a perfect complement to the samosa.
You can’t go wrong with any of their rice dishes; if you’d like something with a Hakka influence, opt for their fried rice dishes. If you’d like something more traditionally South Asian, try any of their biryanis.
When it comes to mains, it’s really up to what protein you’re in the mood for. The chilli paneer was fantastic and the beef in the noodle dish we ordered was cooked to perfection.
Why it’s great
Moving to a new city can be challenging but one of the easiest ways to feel more at home is by having a familiar meal for dinner. As I sat in the booth with my friend, I was brought back to all those warm memories I had growing up eating Hakka food with my family.
Hakka Hamilton is also great for anyone with dietary restrictions, given their range of dishes. While I cannot confirm if they offer vegan food, they do have lots of options for those who eat halal, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten-free and other similar restrictions.
But even if you don’t have a personal connection to the food, Hamilton Hakka absolutely delivers on great food. You can tell how much love is put into every dish and how much work is put into keeping this little place running.
So the next time you head to Hess Street, give Hamilton Hakka a try.