Chili crab and black pepper crab are the two most popular ways of eating crab in Singapore. For chili crab, the food is served in thick, sweet and spicy tomato sauce that gets its rich texture from bits of cooked egg. The black pepper crab is seasoned differently, with a dry rub that the crab is fried in. Keep in mind that crab is often sold by weight (usually per 100g), so check the scales before you complete your order to avoid a nasty surprise when you receive your bill. It’s also common for the water, napkins and peanuts presented to you at the beginning of the meal to have extra charges, so inform your waiter if you prefer not to have these items.
Makkansutra Glutton’s Bay
Food Court, Asian, $$$
This hawker is located nearby the waterfront right next to the Esplanade Theatre. Along with the sweeping views of the bay, this is a great place to get your fix of chili crab (and chili lobster). The stall closest to the water is where to head for your crab fix and the great thing is that they display prices per plate, rather than selling by weight, which is ideal if you’re on a budget or unfamiliar with the weighing process. The chili crab served here is deliciously spicy so make sure you get some mantous (fried buns) to soak up any leftover sauce after you’re done eating.
There are now four locations of No Signboard Seafood restaurants in Singapore, but for the authentic experience you need to head to their original location just outside Singapore’s red light district in Geylang. There are two main things that set No Signboard apart from its competitors: one is that you can choose the level of spiciness of the chili sauce, this is perfect for people who do not enjoy extremely spicy food. Secondly, No Signboard is the original inventor of white pepper crab and they’ve perfected the recipe over the four decades that they have been serving it.
The gravy is one of the best parts about eating chilli crab | Courtesy Singapore Tourism Board
Jumbo Seafood’s first location opened in 1987 at the East Coast Seafood Center, right on East Coast Beach. Subsequent locations have opened in trendy expat and tourist-friendly neighborhoods of Boat Quay and Dempsey Hill. The chili sauce at Jumbo is unique for its rich sauce that is significantly sweeter, and therefore less spicy, than other places. With the quayside location it is especially key to make reservations in advance to avoid waiting in a long queue.
Sin Huat serves famous Crab Bee Hoon. Ever since Anthony Bourdain visited this restaurant and subsequently included it on his list of 13 Places to Eat Before You Die, it has seen a significant increase in patronage. Bourdain described the crab bee hoon here as ‘giant Sri Lankan beasts cooked with a spicy mystery sauce and noodles—pure messy indulgence’. Find out for yourself if it’s worthy of the hype.
Located on Singapore’s East Coast, Long Beach is often said to be the place that has the spiciest chili crab on the island. Serving up perfectly juicy and fresh crabs from their live tanks, these crabs are elevated to another level due to the perfect combination of sweetness, spiciness and saltiness of the sauce. Long Beach is also the ideal place to try black pepper crab as it was first created here.