Sunday, May 25, 2008

First Grade Seafood Palace (Eng Seng)

Pepper Crab

I had heard about this "Still Road Crab Place" for quite a while now (247 Joo Chiat Place at the Eng Seng Restaurant, 6440-5560), with many people claiming it to offer the best pepper crab in Singapore. But I had never made a concerted effort to eat here given how lines started forming as early as 5 PM. Yet after a bit of discussion about this place with a few of their regular customers last night, I decided to come down for an early serving of crab and beer this afternoon.

I arrived at 4:15 PM in an effort to try to beat the crowds. This turned out to be a good thing as the place was already half full by the time I got there. The "crab nazi" lady was hardly the evil witch that I had read about online; instead, she had a rather jolly demeanor and didn't force anything on me aside from a two crab minimum. And that quota turned out to be a good thing, as these were good enough that there was no way I could have been satisfied with just one.

What made this pepper crab so different from all the other pepper crab available around town? It was the fact that it had just a touch of sweetness. Normally I am turned off by sweet food, but this one was done mildly enough that it wasn't annoying. More importantly, it was caramelized a bit, which when combined with the smoky aroma from the wok, really got me excited. It reminded me a bit of Guinness pork or even Meng Kee's char siew from KL, all of which have that same smoky-scorched-greasy-candy-like taste. My only gripe was the useless lettuce sitting at the bottom of the plate, as some of the cooked-lettuce taste made its way into a couple of pieces of crab that had come into contact with it.

Yes, I'll come back again, but I definitely won't think of this as a place to get dinner, especially seeing how lines really did start to form after 5 PM. If I return, then it will really be for just a late afternoon snack. That suits me just fine given my number one rule about eating crab: never eat crab when you're hungry. Oh, and my shirt is rather soiled now from all of the black pepper splatter, so remember to dress down too. It's an old school open air venue anyway.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

hey there..

how much did the 2 crabs set you back by?

bma said...

S$50 (US$35)

Justin said...

What's up dude,

Your blog is the shit. With some cheese on it.

I'm from L.A., but I grew up in Singapore years ago. I first came across your blog when I was at the office craving Versailles, and I came across your blog. It was great, because I got to read about food I'm familiar with in L.A. and Singapore.

I worked at Dan Ryans (Imagine that, an American waiter at an American restaurant...) when I was in high school, but it was so much better back then. I'm amazed that you've hit up so many different places all over Singapore. I thought I've had a lot of stuff around Singapore, but I've been thoroughly outclassed.

Have you had Johnnie's Hot Pastrami in L.A.? (On Sepulveda, in between Washington Pl. and Washington Bl.) You owe the world a good review on a great sandwich.

Keep writing and I'll keep reading. I'll be in Singapore again this June, any new places in Singtown that are must-eats?

Peace be the journey!

ene said...

Psst. The chef from the original Joo Chiat place has apparently moved to another restaurant at Yio Chu Kang Road. Place is called House of Seafood @ 180. Just after the 24-hours prata shop. Tried the GIANT black pepper crabs there. VERY VERY NICE! Parking's a b**** though but I believe there's a valet service on wkends.

MANTii- said...

Hey there, I'm from Singapore and I've been avidly reading your entries for the past few months now, and I find it really informative and entertaining, not to mention the pictures never fail to whet my appetite. I seriously want to try that Burned Ramen from Tokyo, if I ever get a chance to be there!

I'm not sure if you've checked this place out before, but have you heard of Miss Clarity Cafe? They serve a MEAN Fish Cordon Bleu, that you really have to check out while you're in Singapore. I've been there with my mum and my girlfriend on separate occasions, and I've ordered it every time I visit. If you're in the area (It's between City Hall and Bugis, a few lanes behind Raffles Hotel) you should give it a try, and maybe post a review of it on how you like it! Hope you like it, I've given you their website if you're interested to find your way there. Weekdays lunch is usually pretty affordable (can't rmb, about $9 or $10+, main course + salad or soup + drink + tiny scoop o ice cream :P) Drop me a mail if you liked it!

http://missclaritycafe.com/

Kathy said...

Miss Clarity used to be good but now everything's just oily and salty, or oily and bland. It's not greasy in a good way.

The service is pretty good, pity about the food -- scan the menu and you'll find plenty of dishes with deep fried stuff. The stews are okay-ish.

Have you tried Chin Chin at Purvis Stteet? Haven't been there for years, wonder if the food is still as good.

Anonymous said...

oh if you have not been to Defu Lane - Seafood Paradise, YOU HAVE TO! get the butter crab. best ever :D

Anonymous said...

The chef is still at Joo Chiat Place. Read The Sunday Times, 11 Jan 09.