Lime Tree is going crab
Just had dinner there tonight once again never a let down. The owner told us that he is doing chili and black pepper crab special dishes this Sat. & Sun as a special. Starting at 2 PM til closing (sorry don't know the time). Also recommended that you make a reservation so you don't miss out. The price is right and the food is very good.
Lime Tree - Southeast Asian Kitchen
450 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122
re: Melanie Wong
Thanks to Melanie for pre-ordering the black pepper crab and the chili crab; enjoyed with warm bread - large 2.25 lb Dugeness crabs were $29 each. We also devoured roti pratha, martabak, corn fritters, Singapore Curry Noodles, Salmon Pepes, Beef Rendang, and Pork Spareribs. $22.50 each includes tax and tip for eight of us to enjoy chowing and fine company. Thanks to all for the wine pours; we came supplied with chilled wines, corkscrews and glasses.
Both crab preparations were good (although the crab was a overcooked), but the Black Pepper crab was a reminder of how much we take black pepper for granted. Used at the dominant spice, it's slightly fruity qualities were more pronounced. Delicious! The other dish that really stood out for me was the salmon pepes. I'm not a big fan of salmon, but this sauce somehow complimented the flavors I don't like without masking them. It still tasted like salmon, but it tasted good!
re: Ruth Lafler
Crabwise my preference was also the pepper crab..it seemed to enhance rather than mask the delicate flavor...The chili crab was all about the sauce and the crab was really lost for me with this interpretation..seemed heavy handed, especially in comparison to the Cantonese and Vietnamese preparations. The salmon was very good, as was a particularly unctuous Beef Radang...I also enjoyed the freshly prepared roti and corn/shrimp fritters! The spareribs were kind of a "no show" flavor wise....the best thing was the convivial company, and the tastes of a great variety of wines...thanks to Melanie for putting this outing together!
Meet the crabs!
Here’s the chili crab.
When I reserved, I inquired about whether bread was available. My long ago memories from Singapore hawker stands were that mopping up the sauce with bread was the best part. The person on the phone said that he could offer me a plain French roll (used for the sandwich menu) and I didn’t need to bring my own. As it turned out, there was but a single roll left by the time our order was up. Still, it was served up hot and crackly, and did the trick. We shared our single roll greedily. As Richard said to me, something like bread that you can pick up with your hands after diving into the crab was a much better option than the plain steamed rice.
The chili crab was quite overcooked and was all about the sauce. I suspect that the crabs are cooked in advance, and then reheated with the sauce. Also, the carapace of both crabs was completely cleaned out with none of the innards. I found the sauce underspiced and overly sweet in a ketchup-y way.
And the black pepper crab.
In my Singapore days, I almost always preferred the black pepper prep to the more well-known chili one, especially for a big spiny lobster. The black pepper is not listed on Lime Tree’s specials board and it was no problem to make for us when I requested in advance. Interesting that almost everyone at our dinner also preferred this prep. I think that this crab was a little smaller but not as dried out as the chili crab. I’m not sure what the seasonings are, maybe garlic, black pepper and some lime zest.
I’m glad that I decided to return to Lime Tree, as this meal was much better than the earlier week day lunch I had here a few years ago. My favorites were the Indonesian style salmon pepes (from the specials board) that was pungent with lemon grass paste, and the Singapore curry noodles, firmish vermicelli bathed in a fresh and lively curry paste that tasted homemade. That said, while I enjoyed this meal, the food doesn’t really satisfy the Malay/Singaporean jones for me. But I’d happily drop in for a roti and those noodles again.
Wine-wise, we brought our own wines and stemware. First, the 2009 Hirsch Gruner Veltliner in screwcap, a perennial favorite for its vivacious acidity and grassy, citrusy tones. Then a 2006 Rogue Valley OR Viognier (producer?) that was still wonderfully fragrant and fresh even at nearly five years old, but attenuated in the finish. With the pork dish and the beef rendang, 1997 Turley “Aida” Napa Valley Petite Syrah (sic), amazingly youthful, dense, and velvety on the palate. I’ve found that Napa Valley Petite Sirah makes a great pairing with red meat curries, oxymoronish as that might sound. The wine of the night, in my opinion, was the 2004 Schloss Schonborn Erbacher Marcobrun Riesling Spätlese, VDP auction bottling, showing great clarity and intensity of flavor, piercing depth, and never-ending finish. To close, a half-bottle of 1990 Trimbach “Fredric Emile” Riesling Vendage Tardive, but silly me, I’d forgotten that this wine was dry and not sweet, so not really suited as a dessert wine or to pair anything on this table. But a glorious wine in its own right. Our BYOB wine program exceeded the cooking here but we were content.
Here's our very messy table in the aftermath of this dinner surrounded by happy diners.
I was there on the weekend and the person next to me was feasting on the chili crab- huge portion and more than enough for two people. Looked delicious. I believe there is an option for 1.5lbs and 2.5lbs of crab, cooked in either style.
And I don't know if this is a new thing, but the owner is now making his own sambal belachan, which was very good.