Singapore’s Chilli Crab – 8 Best Places to Enjoy this Savory Delight in 2024

The Lion City is a very demanding neighbourhood; you need all your senses to feel and love it. Seeing, hearing, and touching are not enough when you want to live an unforgettable experience, but smelling and tasting will send you to the top. And if you want to have a bite of Singapore, chilli crab is the right choice. 

It may seem complicated, but the dish uses everyday ingredients and is actually quite easy to cook. It is tasty and it offers a rainbow of flavours for your palate and alll these elements transform the chilli crab into one of the most popular iconic dishes of Singapore. 

 

Let’s start from the origins. 

 

Every successful recipe tells a story; the Singapore chilli crab is no different, except that this story doesn’t begin with “once upon a time”, and its creator was not a princess. Some innovations may not have changed the world, but they have at least made it richer. These aren’t made only in the lab but also in the kitchen. 

Let’s be honest. We’ve all had the feeling at some point that we could improve a recipe. It happened to Cher Yam Tian in 1950 when she intended to cook something different for her husband. Thus, she chooses to stir-fry some mud crabs in tomato sauce and add some chilli to temper the dish’s sweetness. 

The combination of tastes was a great success, not only in her husband’s opinion, which one might assume was bias in judging Ms Cher’s culinary talent, but also for their relatives and friends, a more severe jury. The family’s destiny was about to change. 

It soon became one of the most popular Singaporean dishes, first sold in the street as a hawker dish. Six years later, it provided enough capital to its inventor to open a modest shack and, in 1963, a family restaurant named Palm Beach Seafood. 

A well-known Singaporean chef, Hooi Kok Wai, later revised the chilli crab recipe by adding eggs and sambal, a mixture of chilli peppers and shrimp paste. That was the birth of the contemporary Singapore chilli crab: stir-fried crab floating in a rich, savoury, sweet, and sour sauce, frequently served with mantou, a fried or steamed bun. 

In February 2023, Ms Cher died at the age of 90, but her legacy of the inventor of the chilli crab was already secured. 

 

Different Tastes, Different Approaches 

 

While the dish’s primary preparation calls for stir-frying crab in a tomato and chilli-based sauce, other variations use a wide range of ingredients and cooking methods. Let’s take a look at the most popular versions you may find in every seafood restaurant in Singapore:  

Black pepper crab: To obtain the best pepper crab in Singapore, stir-fry it butter with black and white pepper mixture which gives it a mildly smoky and earthy flavour. 

Golden Salted egg crab: The sauce used for cooking this dish is granted a rich, smooth texture by mixing with salted egg yolk, promising a burst of umami in every bite. 

Steamed crab with Chinese wine and Egg white : This dish calls for the freshness and the sweetness of the crustacean. Using a splash of soya milk adds a creamy texture, balanced by the lightness of the egg white and the fragrance of the ‘Hua Diao’ Chinese wine.  

Sambal is a Southeast Asian chilli sauce made with chilli peppers, dried shrimp, and other ingredients. It is a determinant ingredient in cooking spicy sambal chilli crab. Sambal serves as the foundation for the sauce in this variation of Singapore chilli crab, giving it a fiery and sour flavour. 

 

Craving Crab? Here’s Where to Eat 

 

The well-known local dish is now going global, chilli crab, may be found in plenty of locations throughout Singapore. If you want a genuine experience and go where the locals go, here are some suggestions if you are looking for a perfect crab restaurant: 

Our top recommendation where locals go for chilli crab would be KEK Seafood. Located in a residential social-housing estate, KEK Seafood has established itself as a preferred place of authentic Singaporean seafood with a history of over 30 years. The chilli crab is the local favourite and the restaurant’s signature dish. Other popular dishes at KEK Seafood are moonlight hor fun (fried rice noodles, plated and served with a raw egg in the middle), coffee pork ribs, and cereal prawns. Making a reservation in advance is advised because the restaurant is immensely popular (being featured on Netflix Street Food Asia) with locals and visitors.  

 

If you want to taste the original dish of the best chilli crab in Singapore, Roland Restaurant is the right place since its owners are the sons of Ms Cher, who claim to cook chilli crab according to the secret family recipe. The restaurant is popular with both locals and tourists and has garnered various accolades over the years, including the Singapore Tatler’s Best of Singapore award in 2017 and Class 95’s Foodie’s Choice for the Best Chilli Crab in Singapore. The eatery is a terrific place to gather with family or friends for dinner, thanks to its relaxed atmosphere. 

 

The ideal place to enjoy a tasty crab dish with family and friends is Jumbo Restaurant Singapore, a renowned seafood restaurant with a focus on serving meals with fresh seafood. 

The brand’s first restaurant opened its doors in 1957. Today, the franchise has expanded to encompass numerous outlets in Singapore and other countries such as China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Several Jumbo Seafood restaurants give a breath-taking view of the Singapore cityscape while dining riverside.  

The classic Jumbo chilli crab is at the top of the menu. Without a doubt, Jumbo’s chilli sauce stands up to its name as a traditional variety that is rich, sweet, and just a little bit spicy. It has fewer seasonings than those of the competitors, making it more suitable for sensitive palates. 

 

The Singaporean restaurant chain “No Signboard” is well known for its seafood dishes, particularly the white pepper crab recipe that serves as its signature dish. A Singaporean couple, Lim Choon Ngee and his wife, opened the restaurant in 1970. Before that, they ran a small hawker stand on Mattar Road. 

The fact that the original stand had no signboard identifying it earned the moniker “No Signboard.” Instead, customers would search for a stall with a long line of people waiting to buy food but no signboard. 

The restaurant company has grown over the years and now has several locations in Singapore besides the outposts in countries like China and Indonesia. In addition to its well-known white pepper crab in Singapore, the restaurant also offers lobster, chilli crab, and butter crab. 

 

Another well-known seafood restaurant chain in Singapore, Long Beach Seafood Restaurant, has multiple sites across the city-state, just like No Signboard or Jumbo Seafood. Throughout its more than 70-year history, the restaurant has become renowned for its best chilli crab and black pepper crab dishes, the origins of which can be traced back to Long Beach Seafood. 

Long Beach’s chilli crab is acknowledged as the top-tier seafood feast by fans of spicy seafood. This crab restaurant in Singapore stands out from the crowd due to its higher level of spiciness. 

Crabs are just one of the many seafood meals that Long Beach Seafood Restaurant provides; other options include prawns, lobsters, fish, and clams. To guarantee the best quality of its meals, the restaurant employs only the freshest ingredients and handpicks its seafood. 

The chilli crab restaurant Red House Seafood in Singapore gets its name from the unusual red-roofed building that formerly housed it at the East Coast Seafood Centre. 

For almost half a century, Red House has offered more than just meals. Together with its delicious dishes, this franchise restaurant is renowned for its inviting atmosphere and top-notch customer service. The name refers to several locations throughout Singapore, including its flagship restaurant on Prinsep Street. 

The restaurant is renowned for its high quality and the fresh seafood, which it purchases directly from local suppliers and fishermen. Some of their specialties include the best black pepper crab in Singapore, chilli crab, salted egg yolk prawns, and lobster porridge.. Given the restaurant’s popularity, you should make a reservation before visiting. Otherwise, you risk going hungry. 

 

Seafood Paradise began as a little hawker stall within an industrial estate more than 20 years ago. Today this homegrown brand is part of the of Paradise Group of Restaurants, and even though being part of a chain, they are still able to maintain the consistency and quality that they are known for.  

The signature dish on the menu is the renowned Singaporean-style chilli crab, which is cooked from Sri Lankan crabs, well known for their firm flesh and sweet-salty flavour. Be warned that the crabs will not be cheap (averaging S$9-$10/100g), but you must admit that the taste is priceless. 

The décor is chic and contemporary, with fine furniture and a posh atmosphere. Seafood Paradise has won numerous honours and medals for its culinary art,  including the AsiaOne People’s Choice Award for Best Seafood Restaurant. 

These are only a few places to find chilli crab in Singapore; there are many more restaurants and hawker stalls where to try this exceptional dish. 

 

A must-try dish for anyone visiting Singapore 

If you plan to visit Singapore or are already there, It won’t come cheap but it is something you should put on your ‘to-eat’ list to try the best chilli crab in Singapore.   

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