Hakka Town is a takeout spot at Bayfield Mall which stands out for bringing the authentic taste of Hakka food to Barrie.
Originating about two centuries ago in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India, Hakka food is a fusion cuisine that essentially combines Indian spices with Chinese-style
Patrick Chu, the chef-owner of Hakka Town, started his culinary career more than 40 years ago by assisting his father at their family-owned restaurant in Calcutta.
At that time, he learned from his dad how to meet the tastes of their patrons by adding spices like chillies, ginger, garlic, and masalas to their dishes.
“It’s Chinese food with more of a punch and flavour to satisfy Indian people’s taste buds,” says Chu.
With decades of experience, Chu has cooked in places like New Delhi, Taipei, Jordan, and Austria, before moving to Canada in 2002. He later settled in Barrie, where his kids Jamie and Jonathan had been living since 2004.
Encouraged by family to share his lifetime expertise in Hakka recipes with the community, Chu opened Hakka Town this past September.
The top seller at Hakka Town is the iconic chilli chicken, a breaded chicken that is wok-cooked with chillies, ginger and garlic. It can be served dry or with gravy.
“Dry is for people who like a crispier chicken, whereas gravy is cooked with the chicken and for those who love to top it over rice,” Chu explains.
Other favourites at Hakka Town include Manchurian chicken, Bombay chicken, Hakka Town noodles, Hakka Town fried rice, chicken pakoras, vegetable pakoras, and the hot and sour soup.
Chu stressed that although located in a food court, this is not fast food. Everything is freshly made at Hakka Town, he says.
“Nothing is pre-made or sitting there for hours. Even our spring rolls are freshly made all through the day," Chu says.
Hakka Town’s menu also includes vegan Hakka dishes made of soy protein.
“We have a delicious vegan chilli chicken, which is quite popular. And plant-based eating is becoming more popular than ever before," he adds.
With many people from the Greater Toronto Area moving to Simcoe County, Chu sees potential growth in demand for Hakka food in Barrie, mainly from Indians and Southeast Asians. And while busy at Bayfield Mall, he already plans to open a larger dine-in location in the city soon.
“There is an increasing Indian population in Barrie and, of course, our food connects with them, their culture and tastes," he says.
Chu feels grateful when Indian guests come to try his recipes and tell him that they remind them of the Hakka Indian-Chinese food that they remember back home.
“We’re very excited for what the future has to offer and for the prospect of people in the Barrie area learning about authentic Hakka Indian-Chinese cuisine.”