Sometimes, the thought of having to shell crabs can put people off ordering the crustaceans.
Happily, The Naked Finn, a seafood shack at Gillman Barracks, has come up with a salted egg yolk crab dish that is unlike anything that can be found in seafood restaurants or zi char places. And, yes, the crabs, which are from Scotland, are shelled.
All the meat is packed into the carapace together with nuggets of salted egg yolk, then steamed lightly in its own juices, without additional seasoning. This rather austere way of cooking makes a lot of sense. All the diner tastes is the sweetness of the crabmeat and a hint of briny flavour, with no distracting curry leaves, butter and the like.
For those who want a bit more zing, a Teochew-style vinegar dip with finely diced chilli and garlic is served alongside.
Now, at $88+ for a 700 to 850g crab, it is a luxe dish to order, but consider all the work that goes into extracting the meat. One crab is good for two people, with a couple of side dishes, or for four, if sharing other seafood dishes too.
Digging into the firmly packed carapace, you wonder if you will find roe or milt inside. Both are excellent finds.
Because of the preparation work needed, the crab has to be ordered at least three days in advance. There are five to be had each day and only at dinner time.
Where: The Naked Finn, 41 Malan Road, Gillman Barracks MRT: Labrador Park Open: The crab is available only for dinner, 6 - 10pm (Mon - Thu), 6 - 8pm, 8.15 - 10.15pm (Fri & Sat) Tel: 6694-0807 (call between 4 & 6pm)
I have always thought of soup as cool weather food but Tanjong Beach Club's new Clam Chowder ($16++) has just the right balance of hearty and light.
The soup, aromatic with white wine and thyme, is creamy but not heavy. For a broth that's made with just water and juices from clams flambeed with white wine, it has some depth of flavour. That comes from the chopped-up oysters added to the broth.
Also in the soup are cubes of potato and carrots and a sprinkling of crisp bacon.
The soup, a glass of white wine and a seat in the sun-drenched dining room of the beach club is a good escape from, as James Joyce calls them, the cares of this workaday world.
Where: Tanjong Beach Club, 120 Tanjong Beach Walk, Sentosa MRT: HarbourFront Open: 11am - 11pm (Tue - Fri), 10am - midnight (Sat & Sun), closed on Mon Tel: 9750-5323/6270-1355
KEEPING IT SIMPLE
Of the new restaurants that have opened, Life Is Beautiful sounds the most intriguing, with its menu of dishes inspired by the American South. The compact menu is full of interesting- sounding dishes, but two of the simplest ones are the most memorable.
I love the 3 Absinthe Washed Oysters & Sorbet ($15). The anise and herb flavoured spirit, made into a cool sorbet, seems destined to be a creamy oyster's best friend forever.
Smoked Tomato Salad With Blackened Corn & Radish ($21) is fresh and light. The smoky tomatoes are succulent, a good contrast with the juicy corn kernels and crunchy radish. The watercress salad on top gives the dish a pleasing hit of bitterness.
Where: Life Is Beautiful Kitchen Bar, 99 Duxton Road MRT: Tanjong Pagar Open: 6pm - midnight (Tue), 6pm - 3am (Wed - Sat), closed on Sun & Mon. Last orders at 10.30pm Info: Call 6423-0939 or go to www.facebook.com/lifeisbeautifulsingapore
MAD ABOUT MANHATTAN
Busy, buzzy Manhattan is among the new bars that have opened here, with a menu packed with good drinks and eats.
The menu is divided into five neighbourhoods in the city, each with its own cocktails and food. So in the course of one night, I can traverse the city from Wall Street to Spanish Harlem, the Theater District to SoHo, with a pit stop at the Upper East Side, without leaving my seat.
From SoHo, I pick Rothkoesque ($22++), a cocktail made with Death's Door Gin, grape and oolong tea-infused white vermouth, and grapefruit and celery bitters. Cold, clean and sharp, it clears a foggy brain fast.
Some friends I bump into recommend the Street Style Hot Dogs ($15++) from the Theater District part of the menu and they turn out to be great. The snappy casings of the sausages are what grab me and the hotdogs taste better than any streetside version I have had in the Big Apple.
Look further down the menu and there is a selection of non-alcoholic drinks From The Soda Fountain. The Malted Milk Shake ($14++) is good, if a little sweet, and this is one rare place in Singapore where you can order an Egg Cream ($12++).
Where: Manhattan, second floor, The Regent Singapore, 1 Cuscaden Road MRT: Orchard Open: 5pm - 1am daily Info: Call 6725-3377 or go to facebook.com/manhattansg