Dinner at Fatty Crab – NYC
The Singapore Chilli Crab Festival used to be my favorite summer food festival. A day of spicy chili crab sponsored by a beer company, what’s not to love?! Alas, the last festival was in 2007 and I’ve been suffering since. I read online they’re now on tour in the UK, so with no New York festival in sight, I made dinner plans with my girls, Ellie and Christina, for some chili crab at Fatty Crab. Chris’ husband, Will, also came along to eat/chaperone. He’s a smart man.
The food at Fatty Crab is family-style and all the dishes come out as they are ready. The first dish of the night were the Fattty Tea Sandwiches ($8) filled with pork belly and sambal aioli. You can’t go wrong with pork belly, but perhaps these sandwiches would have been better if it had been earlier in the day and if we had been drinking tea instead of red wine. The soft bread and mild sambal got lost amid the many glasses of wine. We ordered two bottles of red: Morellino ’05, Erik Banti and Messapicus ’03, Salice Salentino Riserva. We all preferred the smoother and more expensive Messapicus.
Next was the Watermelon Pickle and Crispy Pork ($13), fried crunchy hunks of fatty pork belly atop cubes of sweet and sour watermelon. The juicy watermelon cut the saltiness of the pork and the shredded scallions added to the savoriness of the dish. It was delicious beyond belief and by far the favorite of the night by everyone at the table. Five cube sets a plate, after we all had one there was one set left and Ellie insisted I have it because she said I looked like I was heaven when was eating my portion. Of course I didn’t refuse. She’s a good friend.
The Fatty Sliders ($9) made of pork and beef came with bibb lettuce, a single thick cut pickle, and sambal aioli on a potato bun. The sliders were nice, as most sliders tend to be, but they didn’t blow me away. I longed for a stronger sambal aioli as I did when I ate the tea sandwiches.
We placed two orders of the Quail Egg Shooters ($6) since the toppings were different and we wanted to try two each. The toppings varied in terms of potency (in the picture above, the eggs are ordered strongest to mildest, left to right): combination, pork floss, shrimp paste and anchovy, and sambal. I ate the anchovy and the combination quail egg, and both were dominated by the flavor of the shrimp paste. Although pretty to look at, the quail egg shooters are more of a novelty for those who don’t eat quail eggs too often.
The waiter said the Fatty Duck ($15) was his favorite so naturally I expected a lot. The steamed and fried duck in a sweet brown sauce over rice with toasted popped rice and topped with pickled mustard greens and red chili peppers was indeed good, but the skin on the duck could have been crispier and the meat more fall-off-the-bone. It would have made for easier eating since we didn’t have a fork and knife.
After the Fatty Duck, everything started going downhill. The Char Kway Teow ($19) — sauteed ho fun noodles with shrimp, squid, bean sprouts, cilantro, and scallions — was overpowered by an excess amount of fish sauce, and as a result, was incredible salty. Refills of the water were greatly appreciated while eating these noodles.
And lastly, the reason for the dinner at Fatty Crab: the Chili Crab (MP, we paid around $40 one month ago), Dungeness crab in a chili sauce served with thick white toast. Eating the crab was definitely a messy endeavor, but I was prepared. Unfortunately, the crab wasn’t exactly worth all the effort. The large Dungeness crab was bland inside and the thick, over-reduced sauce was, again, too salty. Oddly, none of the flavor of the sauce had gotten into the crab. It was a disappointment, and a pricey one at that.
The meal ended with Fatty Crab’s version of corn cakes made with sticky rice flour. A cross between mochi/dduk and corn cakes, the little buttery squares were scrumptious if a little heavy considering all the food we had just eaten. Chris and Ellie gave up at this point, but Will and I soldiered on and finished every one of the cakes.
Do I regret going to Fatty Crab? Definitely not, the deliciousness of the Watermelon Pickle and Crispy Pork made up for all the over and under seasoned dishes. That’s how good it was. For a moment, the longing for the crabs at the Chilli Crab Festival was appeased, but not extinguished.
UPDATE: I just received an email from “The Tiger Team” and they say there might be a Chilli Crab Festival in NYC next year! Woot! Woot!
643 Hudson Street (betw Horatio and Gansevoort St.)
New York, NY 10014