Eng Seng Restaurant: Ring Up First or No Crabs for You!

With Amagada

Black Pepper Crabs $38 per kg

We should do a poll to see whether there are more Chilli Crab lovers or Black Pepper Crab lovers. I think that there was one time when Chilli Crabs were the runaway favourites, but then Black Pepper Crabs came onto the scene and stole top spot from Chilli Crabs. Of course, nowadays there are a few other crab fads like Crab Bee Hoon and Salted Egg Crab, but I still think that Chilli Crabs and Black Pepper Crabs are still by far the favourite amongst Singaporeans.

Today we talk about Black Pepper Crabs and as you all may already know, the creation of the dish is widely attributed to the famous Long Beach Seafood Restaurant. But if you ask where is the best Black Pepper Crab around, a lot of people will tell you about this particular place where you have to ring up early in the day to book your crabs before coming down at around 5pm to start queueing for a table.

The notoriaty of this place is legend. The queue is so bad that it had intimidated me enough to not to try it after all these years. There is also the rumour of a Empress Dowager like figure commanding the restaurant and rumours of the Uber Food Nazi chasing people away for the lack of crabs is the stuff of Singaporean Hawker Lore. And then, there is the fact that they are usually sold out by 8pm. How to eat like thaaaaaat? Then again, like that, how not to eaaaaaat?



What finally brought me to the restaurant was when I heard rumours that the restaurant had moved to somewhere in Yio Chu Kang and that the restaurant in Joo Chiat is closed. In fact, I have driven past the alleged new restaurant (which I shall not name at the moment) and it says clearly on the signboard that they were previously from Joo Chiat Place. I think it was Holydrummer who told me that he had already eaten the black pepper crab there. So I started making plans to visit the new restaurant at Yio Chu Kang since I thought I might get a chance to eat the crab before people find them and we have to start queuing again.



But as I was organizing my trip there, one of my patients told me that she had just eaten Black Pepper Crab at the old Joo Chiat Place! After making sure she wasn't seeing me for diarrhoea, I decided that I would get to the bottom of this mystery once and for all.

So we eventually found ourselves sitting at the old coffeeshop at Joo Chiat Place at 5 pm waiting for our Black Pepper Crabs. We were lucky as we did not ring to reserve our crabs ahead of time but still managed to order some because they had a good supply of crabs that day.


As our gowment says, Two is not enough!

The verdict: Strangely addictive. These Black Pepper Crabs are not like the ones served elsewhere. The sauce is slightly sweet and not overly spicy. As Goldilocks would say, "it is just right!". It was so shiok that I think I ate more crabs at that one seating then I ever had for a long while. 4.6/5


The lady manning the register told me that there is some secret ingredient in the black sauce that they used but stopped short of telling me what it was. She also insisted that rumours of there being a change in management at the restaurant was untrue and that everything was the same as before. She appeared to know about the restaurant in Yio Chu Kang but wouldn't say anymore about them.


Conclusion


I guess the real question is whether I would bother calling up earlier in the day and come at 5pm to start queuing up for the Black Pepper Crab the next time? Quite honestly, I think I would.


But back to the mystery at hand. Something must have happened to have started all the rumours! Anyone knows of what actually happened?


Eng Seng Restaurant
247 Joo Chiat Place
(Jn Joo Chiat Place and Still Rd)
4.30pm to around 8pm
64405560
91113564 Eunice

53 comments:

jems said...

You finally made it there~! Oh dear, I miss this soooo much. Am glad to hear that you loved it as much as I do :)

I can see that standard is still as good as before from ur comments keke.

Though the dragon lady is stern, however I think it was kinda her way to ensure orderly in the place and that things move as efficiently as they could. She is usually stern to people who refuse to queue properly based on my experience.

jems said...

btw how much per kg do their crabs costs now?

Holy Drummer said...

This will solve the mystery once and for all:

http://72.14.235.104/search?q=cache:9tYnYna3DhIJ:www.todayonline.com/articles/258112.asp+Todayonline+Eng+Seng&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=sg

Whoever said Eng Seng closed down anyway? I'm just glad that there's the alternative - House of Seafood @ 180 - much nearer to bunny's home. Oh and they do have another branch at Fengshan.

I did mention bunny's bdae dinner was held there and the experience was a pleasant and good one. We had a bad crab initially, but the manager was quick to replace it and apologise. Great service recovery and in my honest opinion, i'd rather go there than Eng Seng.

holybunny said...

I went to house of seafood at 180 during my birthday with drummer and my family. The restaurant's signboard indicated it was formerly from Joo Chiat Place in brackets. I heard that some of the Eng Seng chefs quit and opened up a restaurant in Yio Chu Kang.

Since I have tasted both Eng Seng's and House of Seafood's black pepper crab, they are about the same. Both are served with sauce, unlike the normal black pepper crab which are dry. The crabs in house of seafood are much bigger and more expensive compared to Eng Seng. On top of that, they have a variety of dishes to choose from.

PS: for those who are intending to check out house of seafood at 180, don't forget to make a reservation as their restaurant is usually packed!

sumosumo said...

2 of the eng seng chefs had quit to start their own che char place at House of Seafod, and serve the same pepper crabs.


if these guys had cooked the crabs at eng seng for years, i would think that they would probably know the secret ingredients and how to cook their crabs..

Human said...

The shop in YCK probably does know the secret ingredient, but they are being nice by setting up shop far away from the east, to avoid direct competition. And I'd say its healthy. If there is good food, it is good that it will be passed around so that more people can enjoy it, rather than letting the old sheefu bring it to his grave.

This is the only way good food can survive.

JENCOOKS said...

Last nite on my way back from Cellgroup, was looking out for HOS@180 and the taxi guy told me that they have moved from Joo Chiat to YCK; We know they are not the original store that moved but it's the ex-chefs new setup and so they must have cook this story to draw the crowd. Taximan goes on to tell me that parking is hard there as he knows this place. At 10.45pm, there is hardly any crowd saved for 2-3tables. THat's the best time to be there, unless the crabs runaway or runout.

thewineguy said...

hi drummer and bunny..do you have the address for HOS@180?

JENCOOKS said...

ieat
The pic with the crab claws and Armagada's petite pinkish fingers nicely holding it is very nice ...great shot.

Damien said...

Where is the location of the crab place at YCK. TIA!

khim said...

omg!! e pic is making me crave for crab today!!!!!

maybe i'll have 1 tonight!! =p

ieat said...

I just spoken with the lady at Eng Seng and according to them, 2 of their cooks did join the people at Yio Chu Kang.

If you ever walk to the back of the coffeeshop, you can see there is one section where 2 guys are cleaning and cutting up the crabs. According to the lady. One of the crab cleaners went to Yio Chu Kang.
The other cook that went over was the one who was cooking Hor Fun and other dishes but not the crabs.

If this is really the case, then I feel that it is quite unfair to publicize that the crabs at Yio Chu Kang were formally from Joo Chiat Place.

We have to hear the other side of the story.

khim said...

"If this is really the case, then I feel that it is quite unfair to publicize that the crabs at Yio Chu Kang were formally from Joo Chiat Place"

les, do u mean e cooks or crabs?? sri lanka can be bought from anywhere mah or did eng seng cultivate their own crabs??

cactuskit said...

I have lived here in the area since birth but have yet to try Eng Seng. Looks like a trip must be made there soon. : )

ieat said...

Organize lah! I can make the arrangements with Eng Seng

angela said...

I have tried de pepper crabs at Eng Seng a couple of times. My opinion is, u dun even need to call and reserve/book, coz first of all, no one will pick de phone up. Secondly, even u managed to speak to someone who takes ur order, u will realise ur so called order is lost when u reach there. So, after many trial and errors, I managed to 'catch' them at de right time... ie... Just go there at 5pm to feast on ur cravings. That way, U definitely will get to eat what u want. Period. ;)

ladyironchef said...

i personally prefer chili crab to pepper crab because i love to dip the mantou into the thick and spicy chili gravy!

Anonymous said...

"If this is really the case, then I feel that it is quite unfair to publicize that the crabs at Yio Chu Kang were formally from Joo Chiat Place"

les, do u mean e cooks or crabs?? sri lanka can be bought from anywhere mah or did eng seng cultivate their own crabs??

- You are damn funny Khim. I enjoyed the little humour, thanks.

Anonymous said...

so far the best black pepper crab ive tried is in gelang patah, jb. affordable and good!

JENCOOKS said...

cactus ~ U dont know what u have been missing all these years...just the mention of it makes me drool. The sauce is special.

jems said...

U know what the dragon lady said is definitely very believable. She ever "chit chat" a lil to a group of us while queueing for the crabs is that Eng Seng is a family business and from how good their business is at, they could easily have expanded but not doing so 1) to ctrl the quality of serving the best crabs at the best price they can get - you can only get so much best supply in a day right? 2)contain it within the family so that the recipe will not be leaked out.

and cactus, u r sooo near u really ought to go~! How abt this Friday anyone? I can be there at 5pm keke :)

jems said...

agree with Angela. So far have never called to book. The key is to be early. The earlier the better :)

ieat, btw do you know if the eng seng in Simei is their branch or just an 'imitation'?

Buy1Free1 said...

My favourite place for black pepper crabs. Once I arrived at 6.00pm, and was told 'Crabs finished!". These days, I arrive at 4.30pm, ;)

And how come no one mentioned their mee goreng? Shiok OK!!

Damien said...

Anyone knows the location of the non-original Eng Seng crab place at YCK. TIA! Nearer my house lah...

ieat said...

Can't miss it Damien. It is at the jn of Yio Chu Kang and Serangoon Garden Way. It's near my house too, so call me when you want to go.

wahcow said...

i just went to the house of seafood at Yio Chu Kang!! parking was crazy....moohahahaha.....gonna post pics in the forum......plus map for mien...hehe

ieat said...

Yeah, so how was it?

wahcow said...

ok...posted it under "Food Talk....."Lets Crab".

lets just say i will only go back to eat the crabs....nothing else...moohahahahaah

Damien said...

Thank you both for the directions. Can't wait to go crabbing :)

JENCOOKS said...

You cant miss it, the signboard is huge.

Wahcow, how's the crowd. Are they packed?

Holy Drummer said...

Damien - it's a few doors down away from Crab Party.

Now next door also got yet another Kim's restaurant.

Wahcow - yup agree that their other dishes are okay only~

wahcow said...

its rather crowded for a weekday at HOS....so i can imagine how its like on a weekend..... the pain is going to be the parking.....

Damien said...

If it's near Crab Party, then i know where. Opposite the stadium and near Koon Kee...

Thanks again for posting the map on the forum. Appreciate it :)

ohiit said...

OMG!! I haven't eaten crab for so long. WoW I almost can't remember. Lost my years of count that I been overboard for too long. Now I am back in Singapore for good. So I might as well try one day when I have the time. Drool at this pictures but it looks small. How many grams was that? Still wondering.. Also is it fresh? Hmmm... till then. Thanks for the insight.

ieat said...

How can you ask if it is fresh when I showed the picture of the crabs that have just gotten off the plane and still in the box?!

Foodies Queen said...

Wah...doctor, your entry came at the right time. My makan kakis and I are thinking of eating crabs and have no idea where to go. Eng Seng shall be the one. LOL* Tks!

ieat said...

Make sure you ring Eunice early and reserve your crabs and also get there at 5pm!

Ren said...

I've always loved pepper crab since young. Happen to come across your site and I am definitely going to put you as my FAVOURITE! Yummalicious! And yes...ENG SENG is my FAVOURITE! Have been eating there since 1998 (gosh!! 10 years already)...and I got a shock when I saw that it has moved to YCK??? Haha, ok, that's not true...anyway, love your blog!

tj_han said...

Hello, I notice you blog quite a lot on crabs, and probably live in the East which has far more bountiful good food. I'm in the West and don't really go over.

I'll like to recommend the one and only zichar restaurant that serves good crab in the upper Bukit Timah, Bukit Panjang and Bukit Batok area. Go to the Hokkien Association building just off Mindef, it's at the back of the building. Their specialty is Salt-baked Crab, which is basically Sri-lankan crab with no sauce at all. It's really good especially if there are youngsters around who don't enjoy getting their hands dirty with black pepper or chili sauce.

ieat said...

You should join the forum and recommend what is good in the West!

http://ieatishootipost.proboards50.com/index.cgi?board=general

jems said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wilber said...

Thanks ieat for introducing.

Anonymous said...

you should try the crabs at House of Seafood @ 180. Located at Blk 88 Bedok North Ave 4's kopi tiam. Better than Eng Seng's. And service is MUCH better!!!!

dwa said...

cool nice crab i loving this site leh

cyanwater said...

The mystery is solved.

http://routetoamansheart.blogspot.com/2009/01/crab-is-out-of-bag.html

Whether which restaurant serves better crabs or if one prefers to go for better service, it's up to individuals. Misleading the public is just wrong.

Anonymous said...

I can still remember when my family used to visit the place even before it become famous around 1992..
U should try the thai chilli fish..better than the crab IMO..

Jane said...

I have been eating at Eng Seng since year 2000 or earlier and I just went there last weekend after a short break from crabs hehe.

I must say that this is one of the stalls which the food standard has remained unchanged all these years. I simply love their pepper crabs and mee goreng! Yummy!

Unsure if it is due to competition at hos or more public awareness but the commanding lady seems to have mellowed down quite a fair bit (maybe she was in good mood that day, hehe).. and that is about the only thing that has changed :)

legend said...

damn good pepper crab, a few things that irked me tho... the crab quantity is rather suspect, especially ta pau ones... i've tried to piece back the crab a couple of times and found lacking claws or missing body parts... its just damn sian feeling...

Lau said...

when i lived in singapore i used to come here every other week, man i wish singapore was closer to NY!

http://www.lauhound.com/2010/11/eng-seng-%E6%B0%B8%E6%88%90%E9%A4%90%E5%AE%A4-%E2%80%93-great-black-pepper-crab-and-chili-crab/

Anonymous said...

super bad service, go at your own risk and get served the first dish only when all people who came after you have finished eating.

toilet poetry said...

Just had the worst dining experience of my life at Eng Seng restaurant on Still/Joo Chiat place - both of us went in at 8pm - pressurized to take their last 3 crabs to finish their stock - asked to just have crab and not other dishes-warned to finish by 8.45pm-at 8.45 (which is 10min faster than my watch) without our agreement took our unfinished food and packed - someone stand next to us with the change waiting for us to pay-the best part is they switched off the light while we are still eating-the waiters and waitress are obnoxious and unfriendly!! It feel like I've just been "raped". oh yah, $65 for 2 small crab and health and saftey violation. watched the guy prepare my crabs while flicking his cigarette ashes into my food. couldnt imagine a worse experience if i tried.

Anonymous said...

House of seafood was another shp at Joo Chiat place, force to moved due the competition. My camp was there during my Scdf days. And worked there for 10 years. Have to pass by Joo Chiat place everyday. House of seafood is opp feifei and since beginning all know that eng seng is the original Joo Chiat crab

Keuck said...

What nonsense. The black pepper crab at Longbeach is better. Eng Seng is good, yes. But no fight compared with the one at Longbeach. The main branch at East Coast near BK serves the best ones amongst all the branches.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails