How do you distinguish an exceptional dining experience from an average one? For me, one of the determining factors is whether or not it becomes a memory-trigger. For instance, you may be nostalgic about certain dishes, restaurants or meals because they remind you of a magical time in your life.
But equally, a meal with the ‘wow’ factor always leaves its mark, and you are likely to recall the specifics of what you ate – melt-in-your-mouth beef ribs, juicy and tender roast chicken with sesame seed, glistening fried bun dipped in thick, chilli-flecked sauce – much after you walk out of that restaurant. And it is this “wow factor” all chefs strive for, and when it comes to the inventiveness of the Singaporean-style dishes, HolyCrab by Chef Elton Seah is always at the forefront with bold and playful recipes.
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A Flavoursome Affair At HolyCrab
As the adage goes, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. That couldn’t be more true in the F&B industry. But at HolyCrab, the restaurant’s bold and playful personality shines through, from the neon-lit facade to the posh restaurant interior and vibrant tableware – all had me crab-tivated!
After a year of pandemic, dining out is indeed a pleasure—even if eating a crab can be messy and requires work—you know it’s always worth the hard work.
Make no mistakes, the red chilli crab is Singapore’s national seafood dish, but at HolyCrab, you can expect to find a ‘green’ version! The Green Mumba is the restaurant bold rendition of the Singapore Red Chilli Crab after months of research. Over 12 different ingredients, including green chilli padi, mint leaves, coriander, are used to create the aromatic green concoction. When I first bite into the succulent chunks of Sri Lankan crab meat, it’s spicy, tangy, with hints of tamarind and mint; I’d highly recommend this to folks with a spice-loving personality (especially those who can survive a bowl of clear Tom Yum soup without chugging tons of water).
Despite its namesake, HolyCrab offers more than just crustaceans; the restaurant has unveiled a series of quirky and inventive dishes that are worth shelling out for.
Meet Capricorn, a dish named after Chef Elton’s zodiac sign, and you might have taken a guess at the main ingredient. Yes, it’s made of corn kernels. Inspired by one of the meals he had in China, he decided to create one with a local twist, and he has truly taken our salted egg yolk addiction to the next level!
Another starter dish that’ll keep your eyes peeled for more is Inception – an Asian spin on the classic British pub snack. The boiled egg with a runny yolk is encased with chef’s special prawn paste, coated with bread crumbs, and then fried to achieve a golden crisp. HolyCrab can’t help but make most of us who are travel-deprived smile.
If you’re a fan of Waygu beef, then this has to be on your order chit. The Cow Pei Cow Bu (Moroccan Wagyu Beef Ribs) is so remarkably melt-in-your-mouth tender, and one bite will quiet even the pickiest of meat-eaters. According to Chef Elton, the beef ribs are seasoned with a dry Middle Eastern blend of paprika, chilli powder, cinnamon, cloves and coriander, a recipe he picked up when he studied abroad. He and his Lebanese classmates would often come together to cook up a storm.
Not sure about you, but most of the time, when I have tze char with my family, there has to be at least one vegetable dish, typically it’s stir-fry water spinach in sambal chilli or sauteed broccoli with scallops. HolyCrab came up with a cute dish aptly named Crab Tree, made with torched broccoli on a bath of crab meat, garlic, chai poh (minced salted radish) sauce. A dish that draws attention to itself and your arteries would thank you for including vegetables in your diet.
It’s common to find roast chicken, steamed chicken, fried chicken and soy chicken in Singapore. According to Chef Elton, this particular chicken dish is brined with salt for eight hours, coated and roasted with sesame seeds. Say Open Sesame, and you’ll find not a den of thieves but a plateful of juicy and tender roasted sesame seed spring chicken!
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The next dish is a decadent upgrade for the classic Cantonese dish: Claypot rice.
The Smoking Pot is clearly designed to be a sinful indulgence. At $55, there are pan-seared foie gras, juicy chicken meat on a bed of crusty rice that could feed 2 to 4 pax. The way to eat this is to mix everything together. Each spoonful is oozing with umami goodness.
While the next dish is not the most photogenic, it certainly is tasty!
The Scorched Vermicelli (also known as Chao Tah Bee Hoon) is surely one of the best wok-kissed vermicelli I’ve tried in Singapore. HolyCrab’s rendition is crispy and moist with a subtle charred flavour, which is accomplished by using a wok, extremely high heat, and a practised technique.
Still hungry for more crab and carbs? The Signature HolyCrab Fried Rice will keep you satisfied. It may seem like a simple dish, but it actually requires a certain technique to achieve the elusive wok hei. Made with a generous amount of crab meat tossed with eggs, spring onion, and rice cooked over high heat. Light and fluffy, and each grain is separated, it’s one of the tastiest fried rice in town.
Last but not least, there’s always room for dessert, although I think I’d order another kilo of crab. The Enchanted Forest is a dessert creation inspired by Singapore’s lush verdant landscape. Sure, most of the food is, of its type, very good indeed. However, if you have high expectations for desserts, I’m afraid you may have to temper them. All in all, HolyCrab is the place to be for lively conversation over hearty meals.
Arcade @ The Capitol Kempinski, 13 Stamford Rd, #01-85 Arcade @ Capitol, Singapore 178905
Mon – Sun: 11.30am – 10.30pm (Last order 9.30pm)
Tel: 8444 2722