I had lunch yesterday at an adorable little eatery in the West Village called “Fatty Crab“. The restaurant is small and “no frills” but serves amazing Malaysian style cooking. The specialty of the house is the “Fatty Crab” which is 18 ozs of black pepper crab cooked and served in its shell.
The first and only time I had Black Pepper Crab was when I had visited Singapore years ago. It is a very popular dish where the hard-shelled crab is steamed in a thick black peppery sauce. One of the most popular places to eat this specialty is at the East Coast Seafood Center. It is a huge outdoor restaurant situated right on the water. The problem is that the weather in Singapore varies between hot and humid and very hot and very humid. Eating extremely spicy hot black pepper crabs in an non-air-conditioned outdoor setting is not my idea of fun. The spiciness of the pepper sauce compounded by the hot tropical humid outdoor conditions give new meaning to “steamed crabs”. I was definitely steaming and definitely turning very crabby!
The “secret ingredient” of my own sweat dripping off my brow, into the peppery concoction was something I will never forget nor anxious to repeat.
A little known fact about Singapore is that napkins are not normally provided with your meal. Some eateries will offer one measly single-ply napkin, but for the most part you are on your own. Savvy Singaporeans bring their own tissues and napkins to their favorite eateries. As I was neither savvy nor Singaporean, I relied on the back of my hands to wipe away the black peppery mess from my sweaty face. One of my fellow eaters took pity on me (or perhaps was just repulsed to see my face and fingers covered in sweat-infused black gravy) and graciously offered me one of her treasured Kleenex from her trusty travel size pack. I used that tissue within a centimeter of its life. I used both sides, inside out and upside down. Finally, when the napkin was a mere shred of its former self, I gave up wrestling with the crab all together and ordered a dish that could be eaten with a fork.
That experience with the Black Pepper Crab in Singapore left such a stain on me that I opted to forgo the Fatty Crab version (even though there were plenty of napkins) and instead, ordered the “Fatty Duck”.
All the dishes at this restaurant are recommended to be shared and eaten “family style”. However, my “Fatty Duck” was so good, I cursed that recommendation and wished I had ordered my own family platter. Three sizable chunks of thick, delicious, fat-laden, rare duck smothered in a tasty, peppery, sauce was truly Deee-leee-cious. My only tiny complaint about the dish was the price. It was priced at $29.00 and although it would be totally appropriate at a fancier place, the extremely low-key and low frills environment of the restaurant led me to think that more succulent pieces of that delicious “Fatty Duck” should have been served on that plastic plate.
However, as I am always watching my weight, perhaps this was a blessing in disguise. How much “Fatty Duck” does one really need to consume? If the “Fatty Duck” was priced lower, I would probably be eating this all the time and turn into a “fatty pig”. I guess, that slightly prohibitive price is a blessing in disguise.
Fatty Crab on Hudson Street in the West Village – check it out, but just check your wallet first.
Chow for now!
- Where to find Singaporean chili crab? (timesunion.com)
- Cheap eats: March lunch discount at Fatty Crab UWS (timeoutny.com)