Kuala Lumpur - Soft Shell Crab Specialist Restaurant (软壳蟹皇海鲜饭店)
As its name implies, Soft Shell Crab Specialist Restaurant's signature dishes are its various renditions of the soft-shell crab, done more than a dozen ways. I tried the one recommended by the maitre'd this evening - stir-fried with salted duck's egg yolks: milky rich, slightly salty, explosively delicious in flavour, the crab-shell as crisp and sweet as the most delicate wafer one will ever taste.
Other dishes somewhat paled in comparison:
- Deliciously soft, eggy batons of tofu, braised in a delicate seafood sauce mottled with shrimps, cubed sea cucumber and broccoli flowerettes.
- A bubbling claypot of soft aubergines and minced pork in a complex, indecipherable soy-based sauce, topped with an astringent cluster of finely-chopped scallions. I can't help feeling how nice it would be to transform the dish from what seemed (to me) a homey Cantonese casserole to a fiery Sichuanese rendition by the mere introduction of a handful of fragrant dried chillies and a sprinkling of Sichuan peppercorns. But then, we are in KL, where the Chinese (who make up 45% of the city's populace) are mainly Cantonese.
- Another casserole, this one consisting of chicken & capsicums, cooked in Chinese rice wine, black vinegar and other "secret" ingredients, perfumed with Indian "kari" leaves so beloved by the Chinese-Malaysians. It was another dish which I thought one can replicate, with some degree of success, at home - not something I'd expected to find in a mid-end suburban Cantonese restaurant.
Steamed rice is an essential accompaniment to such strong-flavoured dishes. Overall, a good, rustic, robust-flavoured meal.
Soft Shell Crab Specialist Restaurant (软壳蟹皇海鲜饭店)
6 & 8, Jalan Kuchai Maju 1
Off Jalan Kuchai Lama
58200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-7982 6612
Interesting contraption at the back of the dining hall - somewhat like an apartment block for keeping live soft-shell crabs, with individual pads for each live crab, until they are ready to be picked out by diners and brought to the kitchen to be cooked. Even HK's famous food critic "Fei To" has been here :-)