Ah chili crab. There's nothing like being elbow deep in chili sauce while picking out every last magic morsel of crab meat and mopping up the sauce with bread or rice. It's certainly not first date food, but when shared with a table of like-minded crab-o-holics, chili crab is more than an meal, it's an event, a celebration, it's a night out in itself.
Malacca Straits has a great deal: bring your own crab and the revered Chef Tan will transform it into Singapore chili crab or Malaysian dry curry crab for $20.
BYO-ing crab saves a few bucks and saves the restaurant the headaches and costs of keeping live critters. Plus it's a hoot to go down to the fish markets and choose your victims, notice how they put their claws over their eyes (who me? I'm not here). The whole BYO process is a nifty trick for entertaining visitors.
We chose a couple of big 1.5kg mud crabs from Musumeci Seafoods out the back end of the markets for about $66 in total, enough to feed four, stuck them in the freezer so they go to (ahem) sleep, then took them to Chef Tan to work his magic.
Singapore Chili Crab. This was Shawn's favourite - not too heavy on the sweet tomato flavours, very happy.
Malaysian dry curry crab - Alison, Doris and One-Tone declared this one their favourite. Strong flavours of fresh spices and a healthy slick of oil. Yum. We definitely recommend trying one of each if you can, you can always take home the leftovers if by some miracle that occurs.
Roti bread is excellent for mopping up the chili crab sauce, it works better than rice, $3 each.
Kangkong belecan - stir fried water spinach with shrimp paste - $11.50. We love Chef Tan's version of this classic, he's not shy with the belecan, lots of flavour.
Malacca Straits has a cheerful buzz on a Saturday night, many other diners have brought their own crabs. We love it so much we come back again on Monday when it's a lot quieter, the vibe is warm and family friendly. The staff remember us from Saturday night which makes us feel extra welcome.
Monday night is comfort food night... The har mee here is excellent with a lovely prawn-heady broth - $11.
Chicken satay - $12 for six skewers. The satay sauce steals the limelight from the chicken, fresh and spicy, a far cry from the sickly sweet peanut butter concoctions we have had elsewhere.
Hainanese Chicken Rice -$9.50.
Juicy chook - yeah baby.
The more we visit Malacca Straits the more we like it: we like the food, the chirpy staff, the groovy artwork on the wall. See our other Malacca Straits post here.
Malacca Straits is at 66 Mountain Street, Ultimo, inside the Quadrant building courtyard thingy, just off Broadway. Phone 02 8021 7069.