The Place Tan Quee Lan Street is probably the most interesting dining Street in Bugis the last two years. With Thai food options like Sawadee Thai Cuisine, Ah Roy Thai and Korean restaurant Joo Bar, the few months old HolyCrab is one of the latest addition to this vibrant street specialising in no surprise, crabs. The concept of HolyCrab comes from owner and Chef Elton, who had seven years of private dining experience before the brand opened its first eatery at Tan Quee Lan Street in partnership with the neighbouring Joo Bar. The space can accommodate 30 diners, decked in fiery red crab tones to remind you of the restaurant’s forte.
The Food There are nine flavours for the crabs, all prepared with Chef Elton’s recipe. The restaurant takes pride that all their sauces and broths are homemade from scratch with no added MSG, something we appreciate these days. All the crab dishes are cooked using Sri Lankan crabs weighing at least 900g each and sold at a fixed price of S$9 per 100g, where the restaurant received fresh supplies of live crabs daily. If you are concerned about staining your clothes, Bibs are provided.
We started off with one of the new flavours on the menu, The Peppa (S$9/100g). The white pepper crab here is fried with butter and crab stock along with pink peppercorns. The flavour is relatively buttery and there is an option to customise the level of spiciness.
The Green Chilli Crab (S$9/100g) is my favourite of the lot. Fried with homemade rempah (spice blend), kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, ginder, candlenut and onion, this went very well with the crispy fried buns. The homemade rempah sauce wasn’t as spicy as it sounds, and I have to say it was a perfect match with the fresh crab meat. As compared to the conventional red chilli crab, the green chilli flavour grows on me as I digged into it.
We also tried two other crab flavours, the Devil’s Crab (S$9/100g) and Balsamic Crab (S$9/100g). The former is the traditional butter crab flavour, where the deep-fried crab is tossed in evaporated milk, butter, chilli padi and curry leaves.
Last but not least and also the most controversial flavour of the lot, it is my first time coming across a Balsamic Crab (S$9/100g). I understood from Chef Elton that this flavour is in fact an East-West inspired creation, taking reference from the Western way of dipping breads in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as well as the Chinese way of preparing hairy crabs with balsamic vinegar. Prepared with Balsamic vinegar, red chilli and curry leaves, the whiff of balsamic was unmistakable as the crab was served to our table. The flavour is pretty much an acquired one, with mixed reactions from our table. I found it interesting and an acceptable one if you are game for something more adventurous.
Crabs aside, there are also some communal mains options to share like the Succumb to Mee (S$15), or fried clam bee hoon where the vermicelli is wok-fried with crab broth from flower crabs.
The corny names aside, Hooked on Mee (S$15) is basically our local’s version of Hokkien Mee, wok-fried with prawn and pork bone broth. It is relatively pricey for a local dish, which explains why this dish comes with plenty of ingredients such as prawns, squid and pork belly. The best part? Dive straight for the homemade crispy pork lard.
For drinks, we appreciate the Thai Fresh Coconut (S$6) anytime for a more refreshing and light option to balance the heavily flavoured dishes.
Rants The fixed price of the crabs at S$9 per 100g is fairly expensive as compared to other seafood restaurants.
Will I Return Again? The crabs are good, though they are expensive. The setting is cosy and intimate, unlike the rowdy dining scene in the bigger seafood chains. HolyCrab would appeal to diners who have a penchant for private dining in some aspects. The best bet is to come with a bigger group for the meal to be more value for money.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Make your reservation instantly at HolyCrab here.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 4.5/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
Monday to Saturday: 11.30am to 2.30pm; 6 to 10pm
Sunday: 6 to 10pm
Ranted by The Ranter