At 21 Seafood, getting quality crabs for an affordable price is no issue at all — for just $25, patrons of this unheralded coffeeshop stall in Kovan can get a steaming plate of three delicious Sri-Lankan crabs cooked in the sauce of your choice.
Aside from crabs, they also serve some pretty decent zi char dishes that you can pair with the signature crustaceans.
According to the owner, the crabs here are specially sourced from Sri Lanka because they are of a fresher variety, and are better tasting. The chef also tends to favour the female crabs more due to the fact that the shell houses egg roe and boasts fleshier crab meat.
There were at least 16 different cooking styles available on the menu, including Black Pepper and Cereal Oats. So we were quite spoilt for choice, and eventually we settled for three Small Crabs (3 for $25) with a chilli sauce base.
Unlike most chilli crab sauces that can get quite jelak after awhile, this was actually surprisingly light and not so much on the heavier side. Either way, this will always be a classic crab flavour that I’m sure none of us locals can resist.
And of course, we couldn’t do without the fried Mantou Buns ($2 for 6 pieces), which are always essential when having chilli crab. These came toasting hot, with a fluffy interior underneath a delightfully crisp exterior.
While the Sri Lankan crabs may appear smaller than usual, do not be disheartened because the claws are packed with an abundance of crab meat. I’m glad we went with the chilli crab sauce, as the spicy base was an absolute delight to have with the sweet flesh of the crab.
Don’t forget to soak each Mantou bun into the fragrant sauce, as they really absorb the flavours. In fact, this was even more addictive than having the crab itself.
Because we wanted to try the other flavours, we also ordered two large crabs (2 for $40) but this time, with Salted Egg Yolk Sauce (+$3). I am usually quite selective when it comes to salted egg yolk dishes because some of them tend to be piled on too thick but this was done just right.
In this case, the sauce had a nice creamy consistency with just the right texture. This ensured that the distinctive taste of the salted egg complemented the fresh crustaceans without overpowering it too much.
Another thing I did like about the crabs here, was the fact that it was so easy to extract the meat out from the claws. We could simply tear them apart with our fingers, without really having to rely too much on the crab cracker.
We were lucky enough to be served quite a handful of female crabs, which had delicious fresh roe. I know I’ll definitely be pairing my female crabs with salted egg again next time, as it served to enhance the taste of the roe even further.
If you’re still feeling a little peckish even after having the crabs, one zi char dish I would highly recommend is the Hotplate Beancurd ($10).
This is almost equivalent to having a home-cooked dish at home, and that is truly what makes it so comforting to have. The egg tofu was piled on in generous portions and ladled over with a thick sauce base that is simply delectable when eaten together with the crunchy vegetables.
The next time you’re craving for a crab feast but are on a tight budget, you should definitely consider heading over to 21 seafood.
While there may be an abundance of restaurants specialising in crab dishes here in Singapore, I really can’t think of anywhere else that offers quality Sri Lankan crabs at such a low cost.
On the downside, the small crabs do run out quite fast though so you might have to opt for the other pricing combos instead i.e two medium crabs for $30; two large crabs for $40.
Expected Damage: $20 per pax