I wanted to like this. I really, really did. But unfortunately I was left with a nasty taste in my mouth before I’d even got through the door.

Hawker House is a temporary ‘Night Market Bar’ that’s meant – I think – to whisk one away to the heady exoticism of Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, where such hawker centres exist to feed hungry families, office workers, tourists and locals alike. They are usually brightly lit, full of good humoured people clamouring for whoever is the most popular market seller of the day, and with a chaotic but compelling ambience.

Hawker House launched on Friday 8 November with the aim of opening for the next six weekends (hurry! You still have two weekends left!).  The idea was that each weekend a different range of stalls would be in operation, featuring popular members of the street food scene, such as B.O.B’s Lobster, Yum Bun (sadly I didn’t get to try these but I was imagining it would be similar to Flesh and Buns), Smokestak, Street Vin and Slider Bar. The other idea (I imagine) was that it would be convivial; everyone who congregated to this part of East London, close to Bethnal Green, would be lively, friendly, even, dare I say it, good humoured.

How wrong can you be. To be fair, the first sour note hit as D and I were standing in the queue (yes, sigh) to get in. They charge £3 after 7pm,  and the small trail of people waiting had, by that point, reached about nine. Hardly necessary for a bouncer to control the ‘crowd’, but that’s what we got – a 50 something, grey haired out of shape bloke who clearly felt he had to teach these boho, North London types who were slumming it in East London what East London was really all ABAHT!

So without any good reason whatsoever, he directed a few sentences at me in which the main thrust was that he had ‘seen me here last weekend’ with a ‘big black bloke’ getting ‘really intimate’. ‘Loving it!’ I was, apparently. Ignoring the blatant racism, I responded with ‘I think he was thinking of you the whole time’ (whoever this imaginary bloke was the bouncer had cooked up in his febrile, though sadly not fertile, imagination) but the damage was done, and D was, to put it mildly, really pissed off.

Things didn’t get much better once we got in. The place was busy – not packed, but busy enough that people who couldn’t really see through their non-prescription black rimmed glasses kept bumping into us. That got tedious quite quickly.

So the only solution was to try and numb the pain with booze. Thankfully the wines on offer at Street Vin helped; a nice red (Mas Coutelou) from the Languedoc started to make all memories of racist, fat, old bouncers fade, and we headed for our first sample: Lobster Mac N Cheese at B.O.B’s lobster van.

The best lobster mac n cheese I have ever had was at Edible Canada on Granville Island in Vancouver, a place surrounded by water out of which fresh seafood is regularly fished. It was just insane; a perfect amount of creamy, cheese sauce, big meaty chunks of lobster,  and then more cheese grated over the top.

B.O.B’s was….just okay. You got a small tub for £8, and not only did it have breadcrumbs on top (a pet hate of mine), it was quite watery. Oh well, onwards and upwards; perhaps the rib tips at Smokestak would convince us. Despite sounding like some terrifying sexual aid, these juicy, slow cooked rib ends, macheted violently in front of our very eyes by an affable, laid back bloke sporting a butcher’s apron, and covered in a sticky barbecue sauce, were more like it. At £5 for the portion, it wasn’t bad value, and some very small wet wipes were included.

Our final experiment was with the Slider Bar. We ordered three for £10; one, a classic cheeseburger, and two which were the special, and included jalapenos, red onion, and some kind of blue cheese. I think. Whatever was in them, it was totally delicious; these were the highlight, for me. The meat was on the right side of medium rare, juicy, and full of flavour, while everything else just went perfectly. The buns were briochey and soft, and everything dripped beautifully down the chin, which, considering we’d just used up all our tiny wet wipes, was a bit of an issue. No matter.

Our time at Hawker House was done. I think that if there were a) no bouncer and b) it wasn’t held in an enclosed space indoors, it might have felt more like fun. Instead everyone was kind of pushing and shoving around each other, and the vibe was more aggressive than relaxing. Still, they’re clearly doing something right. I just couldn’t really work out what.