I love seafood. And here in Singapore we have seafood cooked deliciously in every style. You have your traditional favourites, Chili and Pepper Crab; there’s also Butter, White Pepper or Salted Egg Crab, and that’s just the crabs. Prawns you can have them steamed, boiled in herbal soup or deep-fried with butter or cereal; and popular beer favorite, sotong kia (baby squid), can be deep-fried with butter or honey, besides the traditional black sauce. These are the usual choices that you can find at the likes of Jumbo, Long Beach or No Signboard restaurants.
Thus it is with interest when me and my best friend HY visited the relatively new Crab in Da Bag restaurant located at Big Splash, East Coast Parkway. It serves Southern Louisiana-Asian seafood (crabs, prawns, clams, lobster, fish) in 4 seasonings – Garlic Butter; Mum’s Special (a mixture of onion, garlic and a sweet & sour sauce); Ultimate Curry (a Northern Malaysia curry so said the menu); and its signature – the Caboodle Mix (comprising local and Louisiana spices, garlic and butter). And then you have the added choice of having the dish spiced Hot / Hotter / Hottest plus adding to it potato, sweet corn or chicken sausage. There’s hardly any vegetables on the menu but seriously, if you think about it, with all the seafood you are going to eat, you ain’t gonna get healthier with a plate of grass.
The first thing you noticed at CIDB is that there’s no utensils, no table-cloth and eventually even no proper plates for your dishes. Which is actually quite clever of them cos they certainly save on washing, crockery and additional servers. The only props you get are pliers, scissors and a box of tissues – mainly for the crabs but the tissues you will need for every item cos you are also expected to eat with your hands. (Not a place for those who don’t like sharing food!) For starters such as celery/cucumber/carrot sticks with dip ($5) and crispy chewy baby squids ($10), these were served on paper containers. Which is okay cos it’s the food that matters – the veges were fresh and the sotong kia sweet and crunchy, great with beer.
Here’s another cool bit: the main “dishes” are served in plastic bags, hence the name of the restaurant. Again, rather brilliant idea that. It’s eating off the table at a public place that took some getting used to! We ordered tiger prawns ($26) in garlic butter with sweet corn and it was lovely. Prawns were fresh and sweet, and the sauce outstanding. Of cos it’s also a dish that what my boss would say, “You can easily cook this at home…” Prawns on the menu was actually only $20 but we were told that it would be changed soon. $26 for 6 tiger prawns seem pricey but I think you pay for the novelty of how it’s served here.
For the crabs, we have it in the signature Caboodle Mix with potato. It’s a huge Sri Lankan crab ($45) that is just nice for two persons. The Caboodle sauce was fascinating – we can’t quite make out what’s in the “secret sauce” but whatever it is, it tasted good and is a great alternative to our usual choices of chill or black pepper. Crab is fresh, meaty and thoroughly enjoyable.
Crab in Da Bag is a welcome change to our usual haunts. Our meal is truly satisfying and along with beer and apple cider, the bill came up to about $70 per person. The only bugbear is that if you are a duo, you have to share a table with others as all their tables are built for 8. This is I reckoned because it is to facilitate their colossal dish, the Caboodle Boil / Titanic Pot ($299, above – blurred cos taken from table opposite us) which comprises a hefty pile of lobster, crabs, prawns, yabbies, clams, potatoes, corn, and sausages served in a metal pail and then laid out – was hoping they would toss it out but no… – in the centre of the long table for parties of 6-8 to chow down on. Looks mighty impressive! Would definitely need to bring more friends next time to try that out! All in all, a cool new place for seafood. Yea for us!