Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Mar 14, 2008 07:41 PM

Fatty Crab - just so so

So I finally made my way to Fatty Crab to try it out, I'm kind of a chili crab snob b/c i lived in Singapore for a little while, so keep that in mind as I may have some biases. Anyhow, the place is a tiny place in the west village that is kind of cool (the west vilage is by far and away my favorite area in the city), but very cramped like your tables are almost on top of each other. It was about a 35 min wait, which wasn't too bad considering what ive heard about wait time here.

Anyhow, on to the food:
- steamed bun with pork: these were pretty good though not amazing, kind of similar to a gua bao (if you know taiwanese food you'll know this), its basically a steamed white bun with a big flab of tender fatty pork and then they give a side of cilantro, pickled peppers and a sort of hoisin sauce to put on it as you please
- chicken wings: horrible, i hated these, they were chicken wings that i think were boiled that had this thick salty semi spicy gf and i both thought they were horrible
- watermelon and crispy pork: this was alright, i think i know where they were trying to go with this and it almost works, but just falls a bit short. its chopped up water melon and pieces of grilled pork belly topped with green onions or scallions and a sort of vinagrette, while it tastes decent it just doesnt all go together right
- black pepper mussels: this was probably the best dish, i liked this quite a bit, it was a mussels cooked in a spicy black pepper broth. The mussels were tasty and the sauce was tasty as well and then pieces of toast they give u are nice to soak up the broth
- chili crab: the house specialty. To get to the point, its just ok, nothing special. The sauce is too thick its almost a tomato paste type thickness, its too tart and it doesn't have any egg beaten into it although it is spicy which is good. The crabs don't have very much meat, which makes it even more of a pain in the ass to eat than normal

Overall, its not a bad place, but not a great place...worth trying if you want something different, but not even close to the real thing (look i know its a sort of fusion place, but even on an absolute basis its just alright)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I too was underwhelmed by Fatty Crab after 3 visits. I had a craving for chili crab and FC just did not deliver (sauce too thick and salty). The other dishes I tried were not any better. I really want to like the place. Oh well.

    1. to each their own. if the watermelon and pork salad doesn't drive you nuts, can't help you there. thats one of the best dishes i've had in the city, period. (and I actually usually hate watermelon!)

      9 Replies
      1. re: jeanki

        I second that. Wow. That is delicious! I also like the casual feel of FC. I've gone at odd hours and been seated immediately.

        1. re: JeremyEG

          the wait i can deal with and the feel of the restaurant itself is fine and i wasnt judging it on either

          the watermelon and crispy pork salad, i can see why people would like it, it just didn't do it for me (it wasn't bad though)

          i was mainly disappointed in the crab itself given its the signature dish...given that its supposed to be more authentic and not fusion its a letdown b/c even on an absolute basis its just a so so dish, if you've ever had the real deal you'd be very disappointed as well

          1. re: Lau

            I've only had the dish in Singapore. I only go for the buns and watermelon salad. I've heard mixed things about the signature dish as well.

            1. re: Lau

              Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I haven't heard consistent good things about this place and based on your review, I can probably cross it off of my list of "places to go". What other places in Manhattan would you recommend for us to get good chili crabs?

              1. re: bearmi

                unfortunately ive never had good chili crab in the US, there is a sinagpore chili crab festival in NY, i dont remember exactly when it is, but if you google it you should be able to find it. I've never been so i cant judge, but from what i know you need to get there early b/c they run out early

                I tried it at a few malay restaurants in ctown and its all wrong, im going to try it at singapore cafe b/c they have chili and black pepper crab

                I think the problem is that i dont think you can get the right crabs, the right crabs are large crabs from sri lanka (huge claws with tons of meat) and second perhaps more importantly is that there are not that many singaporeans or malaysian (of any ethnicity as the main ethnicities in both countries are chinese, ethnic malay and indian) in the US. Anytime u dont have the people its difficult to get the food right (a la say vietnamese in NY)

                1. re: Lau

                  The crabs at the festival are good and spicy but a pain in the butt to eat outside. I was sitting on a curb, trying to balance a crab in my lap, and trying to eat it without the sauce getting over my clothes. Really difficult. It would have been so much easier sitting at a table. I remember the festival being in the summer. Haven't been since they changed venues so perhaps there are more tables and chairs available now.

                  I also agree with your assessment on Fatty Crab -- OK, but nothing really special. I think a lot of the hoop-la had to do with that it's probably the first "mainstream" Singaporean-influenced restaurant in Manhattan. You can get a lot of the stuff in Chinatown but there are some people where Chinatown is not on their radar for whatever reason. Some think it's too chaotic. Some people are afraid they'll get lost. Some people think it's too dirty. I think my sister's friend's exact words were, "Penang (Malaysian restaurant in C-town) is just too ghetto for me." Kind of strange statement considering he's Chinese.

                  1. re: Lau

                    I see. Thanks for being honest. I totally see what both of you are saying. I will try to look up the festival on line.

                  2. re: bearmi

                    Go to Nyonya in Chinatown. Bring your own crab - you can probably pick it a few big, fat Sri Lankan ones at one of the fresh seafood shops around the corner and then ask them to prepare it for you at the restaurant. If that's too much trouble, you can just order the dish at the restaurant but the crabs tend to be too small for me. Still, its very well prepared.

                    As for Fatty Crab, I am Malaysian and the restaurant itself is nothing at all like the famous Fatty Crab in Malaysia but the Skate Panggang is delicious.

                    1. re: ywwan

                      i hate all of the inconsistent reviews that i've read about FC but i guess it is what it is.

                      I love it. I lived in S'pore for over 10 years - is it the same? I guess not. there's no question that the chilli crab sauce is thicker at FC but who cares? i really loved it. the nasi lemak dish was devine. i really liked the watermelon salad and the tea sandwiches. and when i told the chef where i was from, he made me a special dish that wasnt on the menu that was totally nuts and out of this whole. it was a pickled fish which sounded odd but tasted sour, sweet, and pungent!!! YUM