Looking for Chili Crab

After settling in our hotel room in Singapore, we were ready to explore the city during our short stay there. It was almost dinner time, and we were ready for our first meal in the city known for having great foods.

There are so many choices of places to go for great food in Singapore, and even for a particular dish you can ask the Singaporeans for their favorite place and you may get different suggestions. Before leaving for the trip, we decided to use the recommendation from the Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations Singapore episode to select the places to visit for this short visit to Singapore. The dinner was one that I had been looking forward to; we wanted to go to the place where Bourdain went with his Singaporean friend to have the Singaporean national dish, chili crab. They went to a restaurant called Tian Jin Hai Seafood. What made the segment of the show memorable was one special dish they had there, steamed shark’s head. The chef found a way to make an extraordinary dish from a typically discarded part of the fish. Andrew Zimmern in his Bizarre Foods Singapore episode also tried the same dish, and also said it was good.

So I looked online for information regarding Tian Jin Hai, and found that since the No Reservations visit, they had moved from a hawker center to a location in the northeast part of Singapore called Punggol that was pretty remote and not easily reachable by public transportation. We decided to give it a try anyway, and took a taxi to go there.

We reached the Punggol Marina Country Club address after quite a long drive from our hotel. It was a little shopping centre with some stores and several restaurants. The address was correct, but when we looked for Tian Jin Hai on the directory, it was nowhere to be found. We walked around to look for it, and couldn’t find the place. Finally we decided to ask some locals for the place. After getting puzzled look from some people, finally we found out that the restaurant had moved out elsewhere. Disappointed, we tried to figure out what to do as alternative then. We’re out in a remote location, and we didn’t really think of alternate place to go. So we decided to look for the restaurant options at the Punggol Marina, and found one seafood restaurant called Ponggol Seafood Restaurant that seemed to have pretty good crowd eating there.

The restaurant had the chili crab dish on the menu, so we ordered the dish. The chili crab came served with fried mantou buns, perfect to dip in the spicy chili sauce of the crab. We also ordered a steamed fish dish along with the crab. Unfortunately they did not have the steamed shark head dish on the menu.

Here was the chili crab dish that we had for dinner. I was a little disappointed we didn’t find the steamed shark’s head dish, but at least we did have pretty good taste of the Singaporean national dish.

Chili crab

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