New seafood spot Crab in da Bag is the epitome of convivial and communal dining. Taking the term 'casual dining' to whole other level, this is one dining experience not to be missed.
Expect a warm welcome from energetic 'crewmen' and a charming playlist of 70's music when you step into this Southern Louisiana style seafood restaurant, located right at the entrance of Big Splash. As we placed our orders and prepped ourselves with bibs — seafood can get quite messy — I soon realized the lack of cutlery, or tableware for that matter, on the fresh sheet of paper spread across our table.
You can probably hazard a guess, but at Crab in da Bag, the table is your plate, and you eat with your hands.
While admittedly unused to the literally hands-on dining concept inspired by the multi-sensory experience of Californian seafood restaurants (where diners eat off the tables as well), I soon found myself comfortably picking at their delicious starters — albeit daintily.
The irresistible Sweet potato fries ($7) and savoury Crispy chewy baby squids ($10) made for easy, tasty pairings with their selections of drinks, but nothing quite got us like the startlingly scrumptious Crinkled cauliflower ($8) — we ordered seconds. Made using a secret recipe — though the owner reveals honey and lemon juice to be two of the ingredients — the petite cauliflower bunches were executed to a delightfully slight smokey sweetness, and retained that moist crunch that teamed perfectly with a homemade, thick zesty mayo.
True to its name, Crab in da Bag serves up a celebration of seafood, tossed in some most lip-smacking sauces, in plastic bundles. Pick from their spread of seafood — ranging from Clams ($13), Prawns ($20) to King crab legs ($35), crabs ($25-45), or even Boston lobster ($65) — additional accompaniments, then your choice of sauce and spiciness.
Each of the four sauces are delicious and worth many more visits, though some combinations fared better than others. I terribly enjoyed the rustic Mum's special — a homemade recipe of sauteed, sweet onion rings and garlic in a glistening, savoury brown sauce — with prawns, and crabs with their signature Caboodle Mix sauce of Cajun and local spices, cooked with garlic and butter. The boldly exuberant Northern Malaysian Ultimate Curry though, seemed to overwhelm the delicate, long cran legs, and better complemented the clams or crabs instead.
A definite highlight of the menu is their titanic pot of Caboodle boil ($299, feeds 6-pax or more) — a show-stopping Southern Louisiana seafood boil roll call of 6 mini lobsters, 2 Sri Lankan crabs, 500gm King Crab legs, 500gm yabbies, 500gm prawns, and 500gm clams, boiled in a mellow blend of herbs and local spices — that will leave seafood aficionados in a stupor. To pair with the seemingly endless pile of indulgence are 3 homemade dips — with the spicy Thai Green bird dip being a unanimous favourite.
By request, here's the writer's instavid of the Caboodle Boil action: http://instagram.com/p/eva_tVCsNi/
If you still have space for desserts, I'd recommend the comforting Bananamisu ($5). Layered with banana slices instead of ladyfingers, the traditional dessert is given an intriguing blend of textures, and a sweet touch to cut through all the seafood previously. What's interesting about this establishment too is that all their dishes are served in takeaway-ready containers — perfect for that picnic at East Coast.
While I usually prefer the properness of fine-dining, Crab in da Bag is one place I'd gladly return to and get my hands dirty for their superb seafood dishes.
Crab in da Bag 902 East Coast Parkway, Big Splash Block D #01-25 Singapore 449874
Te: +65 64400083 (Call to make reservations and/or advanced bookings for The Caboodle Boil)
Operating hours: Tues – Thurs 4pm – 12pm (Last order: 11.30pm) PHs, Fri, Sat & Sun 12pm – 12AM (Last order: 11.30pm)