I feel incredulous when I hear people talking about the price of crabs. Take for example the situation at Yio Chu Kang Road. There is Crab Party selling crabs for $55/kg while House of Seafood down the street sells them for $48/kg. A lot of people say that Crab Party is more expensive but they don’t take into account that their prices are nett of GST and service charge while the House of Seafood adds on the ++ which effectively makes it $56.16/kg.
A brief survey of the prices at various Crab Restaurants shows that the average price of crabs is around $45 – $65. But even this does not take into account other hidden costs like peanuts, towels, tea as well as the cost of the other items which you will invariably order when you are eating crabs. On top of that, how many of us actually check the true weight of the crabs before they cook them? In the past, they used to show you the scales before cooking them. But nowadays, most restaurants just tell you the weight of the crabs after you have eaten your meal. It is funny that not many of us would insist on seeing the crabs weighed before agreeing on the price. I can’t imagine anyone doing the same when buying durians! This blase attitude has invariably led to some abuse. According to one Crab Supplier I spoke to, it is industry practice to add on 100g for every kg crab sold. I won’t be surprised if it was more. I must admit I never really thought about it until I went to buy some crabs myself and was astounded at just how big a 1.2kg crab really is!
Now before you start feeling indignant about all the Crab that is going around, let me try to mitigate on behalf of the crab restaurants. (Not that I like the price of crabs any better than you) The truth of the matter is that based on the food industry’s standard of food cost being 30% of the total bill, the real price of crabs should rightly be somewhere around $110-120/kg since the price of crabs to suppliers is now around $35-$40. So the restauranteurs need to make up for the loss by adding the peanuts, towels and earning some money from the other dishes you order. I would imagine that if you ever walked into any crab restaurant and told them that you wanted to see the crabs weighed, refused to pay for peanuts and towels and don’t order any other items on the menu, that they may refuse to serve you. The only place which you can do this is at hawker stalls like Old Mattar Road Seafood where the prices are nett of gst and service charge and you don’t need to pay for the extras.
Anyway, the point is this. When comparing prices of Crabs at various restaurants, we need to take into consideration all the added stuff and not just look at the price tag. However, I might be opening a can of worms because if we all start insisting on absolutely honest prices for crabs, then the prices of crabs will definitely shoot up! That doesn’t mean we do nothing. We still need to be wise enough to find a place where you can eat, enjoy the crabs and feel satisfied that you have gotten the value that you are willing to pay for it.
I have driven past Crab party countless times because my kids often swim at Serangoon Swimming Complex. Every time we drive past, I would say to my wife: “One day we must try this place dear. Looks quite happening”. The problem is that the reviews on the net is quite mixed, so as a result, we often head to our usual place for crabs (Chin Huat Seafood) instead of taking a chance at a new place. But, as a food blogger, I felt that it was time to expand my list of Crab places, so we eventually took the plunge and booked a table at Crab Party.
I must say that the quality of the Crabs here are very good. I like that they display the crabs in a tank in front and I get to choose my own Crabs (which I did). The only thing which I regret not doing was to weigh them on the spot, something I will do the next time. Weighing your Crabs on the spot has two advantages, one is that you know how much you will be spending on the crab dish and secondly, you can gauge the density of the crab. So for the same sized crab, go for the heavier one, which will be the the meatier crab. Sounds so logical and straightforward right?
I really enjoyed the white pepper crabs that night. The quality of the crabs was very good. They were Sri Lanka crabs (you can recognize them by the pattern and colour of the claws) and the flesh was sweet and succulent. The white pepper sauce was very well balanced and brought out the sweetness of the crab. 4.5/5
Their salted egg crabs were done a little differently from the usual salted egg crabs that I was used to. The sauce was very much like a butter sauce and they sprinkled salted eggs over the top of the crab. Richard told me that they did this so that you can decide for yourself how much salted eggs you like with the sauce. It was very good overall, but next time I would ask them to mix a bit more salted eggs in the sauce itself. I wouldn’t say it is the best salted egg crabs I have come across, but certainly it was very different and still worth trying. 4.25/5
Of the four dishes that we ordered, there were two hits and two misses. I really enjoyed the pork ribs with egg floss. The egg floss was flavoured with curry leaves and went really well with the pork ribs which were cooked first till they were soft before being deep fried. They use the proper ribs here and some had the soft bones attached to it. This was worth ordering. 4.25/5
The other dish which I would order again was the KL Hokkien Mee. It was surprisingly good and at $12 for a large plate, it certainly was good value. 4/5
The spinach were a tad on the salty side and I felt that the $20 price tag was a little steep, as were the beancurd rolls which cost $30. They were just beancurd sheets wrapped with a thin layer of prawns and fish paste. There was a lot of batter with little substance and I felt that they gave us too big a plate for our table of 4 adults and 5 kids. 3.5/5 As I mentioned at the top of this post, the restaurants do have to make back the cost of the crabs. But much as I would like to support them, I felt they could have given us just enough for our table and not be over generous with such an item.
I like the white pepper crab here and the quality of the crab is very good. I like that I can choose my own crabs and that there is no GST and service charge. I like the clean environment and the al fresco dining option. I don’t like some of the other dishes like the beancurd roll which I felt was too oily and overpriced. Overall, I would return but I would be more judicious with weighing the crabs and choosing the size of my dishes.