643 Hudson St, New York, NY
Malaysian and Singaporean food is an Asian sub-cuisine that has only limited exposure in the NY Metro area. And that’s a shame, because Malaysian cuisine represents some of the boldest, most complicated (and some of the most spicy) flavors around, if you’re into that particular kind of stuff like I am. Malaysia itself is a melting pot of several ethnic groups, including native Malays, Indians, Mamaks (Indian Muslims) and Chinese, and thus the food represents the confluence of all these cultures.
Fatty Crab, on Hudson Street, owned by Zak Pelaccio (of 5 Ninth fame) with the kitchen run by Chef de Cuisine Corwin Kave (who staged in Singapore and Hong Kong for a year prior to opening the restaurant with Pelaccio in 2005) has become a very popular hangout for those seeking these spicy pleasures. Its a tiny intimate little bar, with dimmed lights and pounding rock music going at all hours. It isn’t an ideal first date place, they don’t have much in terms of seating, and they don’t take reservations, but even after one meal I can already say that it has become one of my favorite Asian restaurants in NYC.
The storefront on Hudson Street.
Tiger Beer, imported from Singapore. The company sponsors a Chili Crab festival every year in New York City. It goes great with the spicy flavors that Fatty Crab has in its native Malay dishes.
Fatty Tea Sandwiches — Spicy sardines, pork belly, and lamb with raisin chutney.
Chef de Cuisine Corwin Kave.
Quail Egg Shooters
Short Rib Rendang sitting at the pass.
Popia Rolls which are similar to Vietnamese spring rolls or Goi Cuon. These are also served with a peanut sauce, but it has curry in it as well.
Watermelon Pickle with crispy Pork Belly. Excellent, everyone loved this one.
Green Mango with Salt, Chile and Sugar. This worked really well despite the utter simplicity of the dish.
Chili Crabs, the signature dish of the restaurant. This is a Dungeness crab with a curry-laced chili sauce/soup accompanied by thick slices of toasted white Pullman loaf. As one of my friends told me before going in that night, “Don’t wear nice clothes”. You will get absolutely filthy while eating this dish, but its well worth it, everyone was sucking up the sauce and we had to order more bread to get it all.
Nasi Lemak, the coconut/curry rice dish with chicken that is the national dish of Malaysia. There’s a lot of exotic flavors going on in this one — peanuts, coconut rice, braised chicken, cilantro, herbs, bean sprouts, peppers, pickles, slow-cooked egg and stir-fried anchovies. This is all meant to be mixed up into one big mess where all the flavors blend in together.
Singaporean Black Pepper mussels.
Lo Si Fun. Thick rice noodles with Chinese sausage and shittake mushrooms served in a clay pot.
As if the food didn’t do enough to stir up passions, the unisex lavatory features photos of male and female, ah, um, professionals from Chinese newspapers.