Hong Kong foodies cannot help but be drawn in by the latest fashionable restaurant brought over from New York or London. You all saw the excitement in the air when Boqueria and Motorino opened. Now we have Fatty Crab, an uber cool New York restaurant that has just set up camp on Old Bailey Street, taking over the space of not one, but two restaurants.
The entrance opens on to a huge dimly lit bar, where you can have a cocktail whilst you wait for your table to be ready; given Fatty Crab’s no reservation policy and inevitable popularity, this bar is definitely a necessity. The Drug Mule and the Far East Gimlet were particularly noteworthy, although I was quite intrigued by the Prison Sex…
Keep walking and you will pass a raw food station before u-turning on yourself to the restaurant proper, artfully designed by Candace Campos (the amazing designer also behind Heirloom, MANA! and Tate). There’s a rustic, grungy feel to the space, with stone walls littered with colourful graffiti and old Chinese newspapers. Old school hip-hop tunes are blasted out of speakers to complete the cool, chilled out vibe that you will sense throughout your meal.
The menu, which offers Southeast Asian inspired food with an interesting, funky twist, is divided into ‘raw’, ‘skinny’ and ‘fatty’. Our super friendly and helpful waiter, Chase, suggested that we should try one from each of the first two, followed by two from the ‘fatty section’. We therefore began with a plate of snapper crudo. After one mouthful we both looked up at each other, wide-eyed, without even needing to utter a word to communicate how delicious we both thought it was. Tender chunks of snapper were doused in a creamy chilli coconut milk with crispy shallots – kind of like an Asian ceviche. Apparently we managed to get the last snapper of the night, and I am seriously glad we did.
Somehow categorised under ‘skinny’, the fatty sliders were wonderfully juicy. The overriding flavour of the beef was pepper, yet somehow this worked, without being too overpowering. To quote a wise friend, “it’s like an orchestra; usually pepper is part of the orchestra and rarely gets to do a solo performance, but here he does.” Interesting way of looking at it, yet strangely fitting.
Moving onto the ‘fatty’ dishes, one of the absolute stars of the night was the watermelon pickle with crispy pork. Everyone raves about this dish and I can now understand why. The crispy pork is incredibly tender and melts in the mouth, beautifully paired with sweet, pickled watermelon, bitter Thai basil and fresh, crunchy spring onions. It was the perfect marriage on a plate.
Finally, the Nasi lemak – chicken curry with coconut rice and a slow poached egg – was not necessarily our favourite dish of the night, but that is probably only because the other dishes were so spectacular! The flavours of the rich, creamy curry sauce, crunchy peanuts and Indonesian vegetable sides worked well together (except for those nasty little fish that I’ve never been a fan of). My only suggestion is that it could have been a little spicier.
We finished this feast, as recommended by Chase, with a warm chocolate cake with coconut cream. Without the molten centre of a chocolate fondant, this cake had the perfect gooey consistency, bathed in a hazelnut sauce, crème Anglaise and incredible coconut cream. It was so amazing I had to hide it with my napkin to stop me from finishing it all after so much food!
Service throughout the meal was outstanding. I am a very indecisive orderer and often request the waiter’s personal opinion. Far too many times in Hong Kong you get a completely useless answer that makes you wonder why you bothered asking at all. At Fatty Crab, however, our waiter was able to give in depth descriptions of the dishes and personal opinions of which dishes would complement each other. It’s times like these, particularly in restaurants with no service charge, such as this one, that make you want to tip generously. The total bill for the two of us, including cocktails and Prosecco, came to $500 each, which was considerably less than I had anticipated and gives me even more reason to want to go back and try the restaurant’s namesake…and soon!
11-13 Old Bailey Street
Tel: +852 2521 2033