First Grade Seafood Palace (Eng Seng)
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.