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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
SINGAPORE CHILI CRAB
While researching possible places to eat while visiting Australia on this trip, I ran across some very positive comments on this place. And since we really enjoyed eating Singapore Chili Crabs while visiting Singapore we had to give it a try.
When I asked our concierge at the Park Hyatt in Sydney if he had heard of the place, his face lit up. He knew exactly where it was and what it was all about. While he, himself, had not eaten there he knew of many who have frequented the place since it opened in the early to mid 80s. So I asked him to make a reservation for us.
When the cab stopped my wife gave me "that look." The restaurant sits on top of a small bar and from the outside it looks like, well let's be honest, it looks like a dive. I think many people would just get back into the cab and head somewhere else. But we knew it was good so we climbed upstairs to the restaurant. When looking for Harry's, keep your eye out for The Triple Ace Bar at street level. That bar is easier to spot than Harry's sign upstairs.
The place was empty. When were were seated there was only one other diner there. He was within clear sight and was buzzing through a mud crab.
Our server approached and we ordered a bottle of wine and some "shrimp cutlets" as an appetizer. The shrimp cutlets were simply deep fried shrimp and were quite good. Where they fresh to start with? Probably not. But they tasted great.
Then I ordered the star of the show, one mud crab to be prepared Singapore Chili style. We had seen them in boxes as we entered the restaurant and they were live---to start with! My wife went with a sweet and sour seafood dish. She wasn't hungry enough to devour one of the large mud crabs.
This is interesting. Remember the only "other diner" I mentioned earlier? Well that other diner was none other than owner Harry Lau himself! After hearing that we had ordered the crab he came right over and struck up a conversation. He's a great guy and is very proud of his restaurant and its reputation. Our waiter, as it turns out, was Harry's son-in-law and the heir apparent to the establishment.
Once my crab arrived at the table Harry came over to make sure it was perfect. And Harry insisted on having our picture snapped with him and the cooked crustacean.
The crab was pretty much the way I remembered them from Singapore on the shores of the South China Sea at a place known as the UDMC Seafood Centre. It's a place were a cluster of fresh seafood restaurants are located. We chose Gold Coast Seafood for our chili crabs.
To give you an idea of what goes into Singapore Chili Crabs, check out this page. There are many variations of the recipe and Harry would probably recoil at seeing this one. But I wanted to give you a basic idea of how they are prepared.
As I plowed through my crab with a full body bib that Harry fixed up for me to prevent staining my clothes other diners arrived. They were all locals and most of Asian descent.
Keep one thing in mind if you go for the chili crab. You'll be buying a live crab and they're sold by the kilo. I can't remember how big my crab was but it cost about $74A. So if you go for the live stuff, be prepared to face the tariff but it's worth it!
The decor is kind of shabby but the food is great and you'll enjoy meeting Harry! They have a web site here.
ADDITIONAL AUSTRALIAN RESTAURANT REVIEWS
Seafoods - Bondi Beach