Where is your favourite Chilli Crabs place in Singapore?
There has been so much hoo-ha recently over CNN’s Top 50 Most Delicious Food in the World and this so-called almost-national Singaporean dish ranked 35th in that list.
The East Coast Seafood Centre houses numerous restaurants along the stretch facing the sea. Restaurants with names like “The Red House”, “Long Beach”, “Jumbo” were enjoying brisk business that evening we were there. My friend C declared that “No Signboard” is the best there. OK, we are not one to argue with C over that so we promptly headed there to get a table as the place was filling up very fast. The name is rather quaint. The story goes that when the owners started this business as a humble little stall in Mattar Road, they were so poor they could not afford a signboard. Some celebrity customer then suggested they use “No Signboard” and that’s how it all started.
The business took an upward turn when they introduced their signature dish – White Pepper Crabs. Prior to this, black pepper crabs were all the rage. Mr Choo, the owner decided to use white pepper as he was uncomfortable with the bitter after-taste of black pepper. Since this is their most popular crab dish, I’m posting that first. Only Sri Lankan crabs are served here. The White Pepper Crabs looked pretty harmless – it looked very simple and pristine, with spring onions and ginger being the accompanying ingredients. Don’t let that “mild” appearance mislead you.
Taking a bite into the huge chunky meaty Sri Lankan crabs smothered with white pepper, your palate will definitely be tingled by the subtle fieriness of the pepper. This fieriness will increase in intensity as you take more bites… which you will do so, because those sweet meaty crabs are really too good to resist.
The Chilli Crabs in No Signboard really lived up to their name – chillies! It was really overly hot, so much so that all I could feel was this burning sensation on my tongue and I couldn’t taste much of anything else. The gravy was also not thick enough or maybe I’m used to the thicker gooey version we have here locally.
This crab dish was really too hot for us – we couldn’t finish it and had to pack the balance home. The chillies totally obliterated the sweet flavours of the fresh crabs, which was a pity, really.
Butter Prawns – the prawns were fresh enough and the crispy buttery bits were good but there was nothing really spectacular about this dish.
Fried Baby Squids was highly recommended to us… this was another one of their signature items, it seems. This would suffice as crunchies to go with beer or something to munch on before the main dishes arrive. I didn’t care much for this as the tiny squids tasted like floury crispies.
Sesame Pork Ribs provided some bite and protein to the meal. Thick cuts of meaty ribs slathered in a honey-sweet sauce and sesame seeds sprinkled in top – they helped to overcome our hunger pangs pretty quickly.
Stir-fried “toh miao” (green bean sprouts) gave us the needed fibre.
Their Fried Rice was one of the highlights of the meal. Even for a nonchalant rice eater like me, I totally heart this fried rice which was full of “wok hei” and had all the sweet marine flavours of the seafood chunks buried in it.
No Signboard has come a long way since their humble beginnings in Mattar Road. Now they have outlets all over Singapore… besides East Coast Park, you can find them in Geylang, Esplanade Mall, Oasis Kallang and VivoCity. Prices are above average… the meal above costs about S$340 for 4 of us.
1202 East Coast Parkway #01-02
Opening hours: 3pm – 12am