The Ministry of Crab is nestled within the pleasant oasis of the Old Dutch Hospital in Colombo, within walking distance of many international hotel chains. It is no wonder that the restaurant is usually packed full of tourists and reservations are required.
It is no secret that the majority of customers are here for that plump mud crab which they proudly line up as going up to 3kgs. Strangely we didn’t see any fresh crab tanks around, even though river prawns and their cousins are openly displayed.
We begin with a heaping of curried river prawns. This is accompanied by Kade bread which one drenches in that savoury bath, and before long all the curry is wiped clean from the bowl.
Next comes the stars of the show. We went for the more economical option of the Large (900g) crab done 2 styles. Each crab will be setting you back about USD30-40. Being from Singapore where the chilli crab originated from, we decided that we might be better off trying something different.
The outcome is decidedly finger smacking good. You will spend the next 20-30 minutes gnawing and breaking crab. Don’t bother ordering beer before your meal because it will be lukewarm by the time you are done.
Don’t forget to take a picture with the cool bib provided. If anything, this was definitely the highlight of any Colombo trips for the Eatvestigator.
Ministry of Crab Old Dutch Hospital Colombo Daily – 12pm-3.30pm, 5pm-11pm
Right opposite Singapore’s Sembawang coast is this al fresco seafood restaurant on stilts that offers a somewhat scenic view of the Johor straits and shipyards in Singapore. The restaurant is set amidst a sleepy fishing village of the Orang Asli (Malaysia’s true aboriginals) whom this eatvestigator observed digging the mud for some of the “fresh” catch which are supplied to the restaurant.
The location is a good 30 minutes away from the Causeway by car, single one way taxi fare is approximately RM30-40 depending on your haggling skills. The main reason to venture here is for the reasonably fresh seafood that is about half price of what you get in Singapore. There are in fact a few other restaurants in the vicinity but this was observed to be the most crowded (for good reason).
As with any respectable seafood restaurant, prices are prominently displayed alongside the live produce. It is this eatvestigator’s opinion that restaurants which refuse to prominently display prices have the utmost intentions of fudging their calculations and you often end up with astronomical prices.
Grouper, mud crabs and clams are in great abundance. There are about 4 categories of mud crabs that vary from the smallest to the largest. The cheapest being RM3/100g, upsizing to RM5/100g, RM7/100g, RM10/100g. The cheapest are the first to be gone, so the eatvestigator’s party went with the RM7 ones. Boy they were huge.
First blood was the whole grouper (RM100, ~SGD39), steamed in Teochew style. Very sweet and fresh, well executed.
The obligatory prawns (RM45, ~SGD18) were never particularly impressive every single time that the eatvestigator has been here. Get them if you are not broke and just want some variety.
We also had crabs done in two different styles, the first being salted egg york, the second being chilli. The eatvestigator preferred the former, but both had their merits. Both dishes utilised 3 crabs each, totalling approximately 3.5kg for a grand total of RM231 or SGD90 for both. This is approximately half of Singapore price.
It is obligatory when having chilli crab to also have fried mantous for dipping with the sauce. These were pretty addictive and the party ended up having a second helping.
We arrive at the most pertinent aspect of the venture across the straits. There was crab, fish, prawn, cuttlefish, and assorted vegetable stir fries, even coconuts. For a meal of 11 persons, this worked out into about RM50 ~SGD19 a person. Truly Malaysia boleh value. Beware, cash only and make sure you pre-arrange a ride back if arriving by taxi.
1, Kampung Orang Asli, Telok Jawa, Masai, Johor Baru
11.30am ~ 11.30pm
Lobsters are relatively cheap in New York owing to its proximity to the rich Atlantic coastal waters. The costs of transporting live lobsters halfway around the world mean that prices are prohibitive in this eatvestigator’s hometown. Well, this eatvestigator is in for a treat! Lobster Place is right smacked in the popular Chelsea Market, where you can buy some delis and enjoy some good wines along with your meal. The queues don’t lie, these are some fresh succulent lobsters, and people are here to get a piece of the action!
Prices are in the range of USD12-14/lb depending on whether you are buying live or cooked ones. The cooked ones tend to be pre-cooked, probably to cut down on cooking time. This eatvestigator opted for a small cooked lobster (~USD16), which was pretty huge for one who hardly sees live lobsters. Don’t bother getting a large to share with your friend, it’s gonna get messy later and you know you want one all to yourself! Your order is taken, then you have to make payment at the cashier. Cooking time is about 15 minutes, hurry and find a seat!
Lobster Place is more than just lobsters, instead it’s more like a seafood market. There are other stalls brimming with all kinds of fresh seafood, and even a sashimi counter. Viably, you could stroll around and eat some freshly sliced tuna, but this eatvestigator think its a bad idea! Once you pick up your very own freshly steamed lobster, you realize the enormity of the task ahead.
You excitedly splatter lemon juice over the evidence, pluck up that juicy claw and dab it with some butter oil. You cease to notice all the other patrons sitting around, who are also quiet in their indulgence. As you tear that soft white flesh, you think to yourself: the taste of the ocean is right here in your hands. For the price, it doesn’t get any better than this.
75 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10011