the gluttony continues

I keep starting to write about more of our eating adventures but I quickly lose my focus and end up scrapping the post. But what exactly am I trying to say other than that the food here is amazing?

Singapore’s most famous dish is chili crab. I didn’t have any last time I was here, which is a sad, sad thing.

chili crab (by mintyfreshflavor)

It’s a large crab—different sites seem to indicate different kinds of crab. It looks kinda dungenessy . . . one of the tanks in the restaurant said “Canadian Dungeness” . . . one site says “mud crab” . . . another specifies “Sri Lankan crab.” Basically, it’s a crab. It’s not—and I can say this with absolute certainty—a blue, the crabs of the American East Coast (and my most favorite). The meat is still pretty sweet, but like most larger crabs, it isn’t as delicate and melting as a blue. But a blue’s meat probably couldn’t hold up to the super sweet/spicy chili sauce. You dig right in, eating with your hands, and it’s a big sticky mess. So it’s a good thing that Singapore is practically devoid of paper napkins, instead opting for wet-nap–like wipes. (It’s very disconcerting to sit down to eat and not have something covering your lap. But apparently they’re neater eaters here.)

It’s common to get man tou, a sweet donut-like bread, to sop up the sauce (I didn’t get a photo of that—fingers and hands were coated in chili sauce!). They were tasty.

My friend Des, a Singaporean, argues that black pepper crab is now the dish that has captured Singaporeans’ hearts. So I tried that too.

pepper crab (by mintyfreshflavor)

I liked it better than the chili crab, actually. There’s not much to say about it—nice and peppery. The crab is the same, and the eating process is just as messy.

Another seafood staple that’s popular here (my dad thinks it’s a distinctly Singaporean dish) is the cereal prawn.

cereal prawn (by mintyfreshflavor)

The “cereal” is a kind of oat and the shrimp is peel ‘n’ eat. I really liked the oaty coating—it’s great mixed with rice.

And just because we had these three things at the same meal, I have to mention these amazing honey ribs we got that night, too. They would hold their own against any of the offerings at the Big Apple BBQ!

ribs in honey sauce (by mintyfreshflavor)

The meat fell off the bone, the glaze was sticky and sweet and dark, like soy.

All these food adventures are lining up nicely with the Singapore Food Festival. They’ve listed 10 Must Eat foods—I’ve had 6 already. The dinner above let me only cross the chili crab off the list. Others I’ve already eaten include char kway teow (which I had last Sunday but my photograph is decidedly unpalatable), satay (which is the same here as it is in the States), laksa (i’ve had it twice now, and: LOVE), Hainanese chicken rice (haven’t had it yet on this visit, but I’m sure I will), and fried carrot cake (not what you think—hard to describe). Others left to sample include fish head curry, roti prata, rojak, and bak kut teh. Stay tuned for these and more culinary adventures!

13 Responses to the gluttony continues

  1. Leigh says:

    Arrrgghhh… I’m dying of jealously. If I ever get back to Singapore, I’ll never fit on the plane to come home. Pepper crab is one of my favorites and I agree better than the chili crab. Laksa–yum. Don’t forget to eat a ton of mee goreng and see if you can ship me some curry puffs? :)

    Fortunately, my mom makes get imitation car kway teow using fetticine noodles of all things…

  2. Lauren says:

    That’s it, the minute I get my crappy grad stipend in September I’m squandering it all on a plane ticket to Singapore. I’ll only be able to afford one way, but that’s cool. I don’t think I’ll ever need to come back.

  3. Laura says:

    Your family sure knows how to eat. I’ll have to try some blue crab the next time I have a chance. I haven’t any any recently and I’m not sure I remember what it tastes like. I pretty much love crab over all food but only in the last few years could afford to have it with a some regularity. My current fave is Australian spanner crab, though the last one that I had was very disappointing.

  4. Anne B. says:

    At the mention of roti prata my mouth started instantly to water. My co-workers used to eat the black pepper and chili crab quite often as we lived over on the east coast of Singapore. Which is weird, cause it actually faces south, but they call it the east coast. Drool! All my co-workers gained weight over there!

  5. Desiree says:

    One more thing, blog readers — you should ONLY have Sri Lankan crab in Singapore. It’s the best crab to eat with the sauces and gravys we’ve concocted for your epicurean pleasure. No other crab has as much meat and heft to truly enjoy the flavors.

  6. Claire says:

    ummm, love that fried carrot cake…they should call it fried daikon radish cake though, because I think it’s law bak go (the dim sum dish) chopped up and stir-fried.

    PS the one time I went to Singapore, I went to Orange Julius! Singapore is a super-clean version of America in the 1980s.

  7. Goldie says:

    Totally green with envy. Soup dumplings, chili crab, roti prata, wowie kabowie. I’m enjoying your culinary tour of Singapore, for sure! Plus your pictures. Marvelous.

  8. Min says:


    I live in Singapore (I’m a Brit but I’ve been here 5.5 years). If you like crab you must try white pepper crab – sublime, better than black pepper or chilli in my estimation – go to Jumbo Seafood and try.


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