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Fatty Crab


lambretta76
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How'd you like the sweetbreads?

... There were sweetbreads??

Side note: The menu on their web site is also slightly out of date. The mango salad, for example, does not show on the online menu. The pineapples appear to be... pickled or macerated or something. All I know is that they're good.

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How'd you like the sweetbreads?

... There were sweetbreads??

Side note: The menu on their web site is also slightly out of date. The mango salad, for example, does not show on the online menu. The pineapples appear to be... pickled or macerated or something. All I know is that they're good.

Oops. None at Fatty Crab. I was looking through your pics of momo samm and posted wrongly.

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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Pics.

It's not cheap. Our meals generally average $50/person. Did I wish it was less expensive? Absolutely. Was it worth it? Yeah.

They're still serving the little glutinous rice cakes. No dessert menu.

You call that expensive? Pelaccio is the consultant chef on a new London restaurant, Suka. Our bill for two with less than a bottle of wine was £168, or (at present exchange rate) $330.

What bothers me is that the food you guys describe looks v enticing and perhaps at the sort of prices you are paying in NY I'd like it, particularly stripped of the sillyness at Suka. But at this sort of cost it's outrageous. It strikes me that Pelaccio may have been led astray by Chodorow, who has told him that Londoner's will swallow this whole. But here I am simple repeating myself. Here's a link to my review that appeared in yesterday's (London) Observer:

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/magazine/st...2065858,00.html

Jay

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Jay:

Wow, that's definitely outrageous pricing when converted to USD. I guess you're paying for the "swank" factor of the space. I hear there are folks who say Fatty Crab's food is not good for one reason or another... I'd be really curious to try some of the more authentic places around NY, if anyone can chime in... (heck, maybe I'll just IM Pan).

I was thinking about the cost factor. If one were able to find this sort of food in the outer boroughs, I'm sure it'd probably be half the cost. I think it's easy to rattle off some of the factors that price this food at a premium:

1) location: stone's throw away from the Meatpacking district, I'm sure rent's not cheap.

2) staff: I'm sure Pelaccio is not hiring his family to work there, which will drive up labor costs. You also get to ask questions and expect a reasonably detailed answer.

3) "exotic" factor.

However, I think the quality of provisions is quite good, and I really enjoyed the herbs/greens, which I thought were quite fresh (one thing that really struck me when I was there). Even if expensive, it is an indisputably tasty meal. "Good is good." I'd rather have that than an unmemorable expensive meal.

Just thinking aloud...

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in terms of the neighborhood (the far northwest WV -- thankfully FC is really bordering the MPD rather than actually being in that benighted place)...it's inexpensive and priced at a "neighborhood restaurant level".

with residential real estate in that area now approaching CPW prices (see this week's New York magazine) and the fact that $50-75 a head is a standard meal at any neighborhood restaurant (excepting Corner Bistro), it's in line with the hood.

Jay: Pelaccio has a more upscale, refined and expensive restaurant here, 5 Ninth, it's nowhere near the Suka price point though (not much here is). Fatty Crab is his rustic, non-fancy (including the decor and no-reservations policy) take on Malaysian food.

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Eating-out costs in London are insane, right? Isn't this is just another example of the insanity?

As for the Fatty Crab "authenticity" debate, I don't really go to Fatty Crab with any expectation that it will be authentic. I go for a certain type of ethnic cuisine filtered through the sensibility of a chef I really like. (I mean, do I care whether the pickled watermelon with pork belly is a true Malaysian dish, a Zak Pelaccio dish, or something in between? NO.) Maybe if I was even superficially familiar with real Malaysian food (all I've had are two or three meals in various outposts of that NYC Malaysian chain, Penang) I'd have more reservations about the food at Fatty Crab. But I'm not, and I don't. I just focus on how tasty I think it is.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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The crabs drive up the chk avg pretty good. Are they worth the price, work and mess? I haven't tried them. But they're like double the price of the avg entree/noodle dish. It's easy to get out with a beer, app and entree for under $40pp. An incredible deal for the execution and ingredient quality. I put FC in the Ssam category when I think of the "haute cuisine cheap" discussion

That wasn't chicken

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I've never bothered with the crab either (I've never found crabs to be especially interesting anyway....yes, there's a joke there...no, you don't have to make it!) like many such small-to-medium plates places...it's significantly more expensive for solo than group dining.

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Take this with a grain of salt, as I am not a crustacean person even on the best of days.

I think it's worth getting the crabs at least once. It's almost more about the chili sauce than it is the crab. The crabs... I think there are about five of them, halved, are all very small. Most are female, and there was a lot of roe. More than once during this part of the meal I remarked that these should be considered a diet food, for surely the calories obtained from eating the skimpy amounts of crab meat we scraped out were outweighed by our efforts to extract them.

But the net result, a spoonful of crab meat with a bit of chili sauce was, in my mind, really pleasing. Maybe that feeling is exaggerated by the amount of laboring required to work those tiny crabs. The meat itself was sweet and pleasant. This dish is best consumed at an outside table, where you have more room to spread out, and where flinging bits of shell are less likely to hit your neighbors. It's a finger-licking, lip-smacking kind of time. I think it's best ordered as a shared course, unless you bring a serious crab-picking game to the table. With an extra order of bread, this is actually quite filling for two.

The chili sauce is also good with the coconut rice. It's got a mild heat to it and grows slowly. Nathan, you'll probably think the level of heat is non-existent. Other items on the menu are spicier.

Edit:

The more I think about these crabs, the more I think it's strange how little meat was inside them and how hard it was to extract from the shells. I chalked it up to my own crab-ineptitude, but my wife thought there was something strange about the whole endeavour. Maybe it's the cooking method? "These aren't like steamed Maryland blue crabs," she said, tired from the effort of picking the crabs apart. She also thought that the overall sweetness and flavor of the crab meat was lacking.

This is becoming a bit of a Waldorf and Statler post. But there ya go. Maybe it's better to wait for the dungeness crabs.

Edited by larrylee (log)
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Blah. I finally figured it out. If faced with the prospect of ordering the crab again exactly as it was served last night, I would not get it. Having said that, there are still qualities of the dish that I like, and that I enjoyed despite the scarcity of crab meat and the difficulty I had extracting it.

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  • 10 months later...
you know, in all the times I've eaten here, I've never gotten the skate.

that was a mistake.

didnt much care for the place went with a few malays from penang, hated it to the point they were angry, but wtf do i know pl seem to like it, beyond me

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it's ok, i wasn't ga-ga over it either. went a couple weeks ago, had the pork belly / watermelon dish and the fatty sliders. and though i thought they were nice, i didn't find it something to rave about or as something as a destination point.

Edited by bobg01 (log)
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I'm sure it's not authentically Malaysian but that's hardly the point.

it's a terrific restaurant. the pork with watermelon, the sliders are some of the best burgers in NY, the fatty tea sandwiches are terrific, the fatty duck is great....plus the whole dinner party atmosphere is a lot of fun.

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Have to agree with Nathan -- I make it a point to take out-of-town foodie friends to Fatty Crab if they're in the city and they're pretty consistently wowed. I also can't speak to authenticity but it's just fantastic food. Now I have to try the skate...

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  • 2 months later...

Finally made it to the Fatty Crab last night and the evening was pretty much a catastrophe concluding with us walking out after eating about a third of our meal.

The longish story:

It's one of those places I've always wanted to go and it's only a 10 minute walk uptown from my building but it's never gotten to the top of my list because of the no-reservations policy, its proximity to the meat district and a couple of underwhelming meals at 5 Ninth. Still, I've enjoyed much great food in my lifetime in Singapore and Malaysia. People here and elsewhere whom I respect love the place, and I and was game for an early dinner last night to beat the hordes (are there still hordes that go there?) so my dining companion and I arrived at FC a bit before 7. By the way, was that Cutlets wearing the hat sittting outside or someone otherwise familiar to me from food events around town? Anyway ...

Outside tables were pretty much full so the waiter (an Irish guy) seated us at the middle table indoors. So far so good. Then he asked the question that made both my Dining Companion (let's call her DC) and I bristle ... it was the "have you ever been here before?" question. Now I'm not opposed to the question in general at a place where ordering, etc is going to differ from the norm (Craft, for example, or Peasant). But there was something in this guy's tone in the way he asked that made me want to lie and say yes ... that made me think this is the question that he uses to separate local/foodie types from tourist/b&t types. And although DC and I didn't discuss that particular question until later in the evening, it turns out we both had the same reaction and the same impulse to lie to him and say yes, we've been here before. But we didn't lie, we said no, we haven't. And from that point onward he treats us like a couple of rubes who've just somehow been seperated from their sex-and-the-city-tour. Lots of baby talk, and assurances like "you know, everything on the menu is REALLY GOOD," and explaining complicated culinary terms to us like "family style" and ... this particularly bothered DC ... only ever speaking to me and never speaking to or making eye contact with her.

Now DC and I are both sitting there trying to not let this guy's patronizing tone get to us - I mean it's not the worst thing a waiter ever did by a long shot - and the food starts to come out ... we really liked the watermelon salad, found the sliders a bit dry. I was surprised that he let us order a side of coconut rice when coconut rice was already included with the duck dish. I found the fatty duck tasty but a bit tough to eat ... I found it easiest and tidiest to pull the meat off the bone with my fork and eat the morsels of meat, with a bit of rice, with my chopsticks. Anyway that's what I was doing when the evening took its turn for the worse. The waiter came over and said to me "you know, it's ok if you want to eat the duck with your fingers."

DC had as much as she could take. She'd had a bad day and on a good day she's not one to suffer fools gladly. "Thanks," she snapped. "We've eaten before." Irish waiter dude spins around to face her, glaring. "Pardon?" he resonds. "I said we've eaten before many times, you don't need to explain to us how to do it," she replies. Irish waiter storms into the kitchen and we don't see him for another 10 minutes.

Now DC knows she was out of line and was, in part, taking her bad day out on her bad waiter. Almost immediately she's saying to me "wow I shouldn't have said that, I need to apologize to that guy." So, be assured, we are aware that we are responsible for our share of the episode.

So finally the waiter comes back into the room and DC calls him over and gives him a 5-star totally sincere apology. She said she'd had a bad day, that she was totally out of line and that she was really sorry for speaking to him so rudely. As apologies go - in words and tone - one couldn't have asked for more.

And it could have ended there but here's what waiter dude says in response, still glowering, almost shaking with anger, literally biting his lip: "Well... I mean... I guess I'll be willing to accept your apology. Yeah ... I suppose I will ... I mean if you're going to say you're sorry then I guess I have to just take that for what it's worth. But it's taking all I have to hold my tongue here."

So I say "excuse me, is there something you feel you need to say?" and he ignores me, so I say "listen the only thing is ..." (and what I was going to say was "the only thing is we both had the impression that you'd mistaken us for tourists and we actually live just down the street and I'm sure you know how locals can get when you confuse them for tourists" but he didn't let me get that out.) He cut me off at "the only thing is" and he snaps at me (here's where our episode reaches its apex) "look, the lady apologized and that's all I'm interested in hearing from you two on the subject so why don't you just let it drop."

So I quietly say to DC, "let's go." We stand up from the table (which at this point has had maybe half the dishes we've ordered arrive) and I ask a runner to point me to the manager. Manager is just walking in from outside so he's missed the whole thing. I say to the manager - and I'm a bit flustered but not losing my cool or spitting mad or anything - "look, we've just had a situation with the waiter over there which has made it impossible for us to stay and enjoy our meal. We've only eaten some of it but we're happy to pay for it if that's what you think is fair." The manager just kind of looks at us like he's got no idea what's happening and Irish waiter shouts from across the room something along the lines of "don't take their money, I'll pay for it." (To be clear his tone makes it clear that it's not a conciliatory gesture, but more of a David Chang telling Craigslist guy that his money's no good at Ko kind of thing.) So we leave after hearing a bit of an "I have no idea what happened here or whose fault it is but if it's our fault I'm sorry for whatever it is that happened" speech from the manager.

So that's the story of our first and almost definitely last dinner at the Crab.

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Up until the hostile exchange, I don't think the server really did anything wrong. Speculation like "there was something in this guy's tone in the way he asked that made me want to lie and say yes ... that made me think this is the question that he uses to separate local/foodie types from tourist/b&t types" does not establish wrongdoing. Many restaurants of impeccable service credentials -- especially ones that serve "family style" -- ask every customer, as a matter of policy, whether they've been before and recite a prepared set of speeches to those who haven't. This happens at the Bread Bar at Tabla and lots of other fine places. Lots of restaurants instruct their servers to offer advice on how to eat a dish: spoon, fingers, one bite, whatever. Some percentage of customers will always complain about it but most are fine with it -- see the Alinea topic for many examples.

Confronted with a customer outburst, the server should have had enough competence and training not to let things escalate. But he's a human being and, when attacked, he lost his cool. It happens. It shouldn't, but it does.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Up until the hostile exchange, I don't think the server really did anything wrong. Speculation like "there was something in this guy's tone in the way he asked that made me want to lie and say yes ... that made me think this is the question that he uses to separate local/foodie types from tourist/b&t types" does not establish wrongdoing. Many restaurants of impeccable service credentials -- especially ones that serve "family style" -- ask every customer, as a matter of policy, whether they've been before and recite a prepared set of speeches to those who haven't. This happens at the Bread Bar at Tabla and lots of other fine places. Lots of restaurants instruct their servers to offer advice on how to eat a dish: spoon, fingers, one bite, whatever. Some percentage of customers will always complain about it but most are fine with it -- see the Alinea topic for many examples.

Confronted with a customer outburst, the server should have had enough competence and training not to let things escalate. But he's a human being and, when attacked, he lost his cool. It happens. It shouldn't, but it does.

You're right to a point of course... I'll still say there was an obnoxious tone to it that didn't entirely exist in my head or in DC's ... in fact we both picked up on it immedoately without either of us pointing it out to the other. Tone is a tricky thing and all I can say is if you were there I think there's a good chance you'd see what we were reacting to and if you were the customer you may have also found it a bit off-putting although not uncommon for MePa. Eater references this thread and describes us as paranoid and I can totally see how you could read it that way. Thin-skinned and a bit crabby on that particular evening is more accurate. Like I said if you were there I think you'd recognize the tone.

But we should have just ignored it, absolutely. Shouldn't have let it bother us. Had we gotten the same 'tude at Pastis we would have been nonplussed but unsurprised because that's what you expect there. And our bad for expecting a more tuned-in waitstaff based merely on the food's rep. But looking back at this thread, others here have remarked on the hipster service staff at FC and this was really just an extension of that.

I'll completely agree that DC let it get to her and we'd both agree that her jabs at the waiter were out of proportion to the waiter's fairly minor infraction and ultimately unproductive. That's why she apologized at the first opportunity. But the guy didn't ultimately lose his cool in response to being attacked. He lost his cool after receiving the apology.

I'll add this though - I used to work in restaurants as a busboy and did a few years as a barista - and I got grief from crabbier customers than DC and harsh words that far exceeded what this guy received from DC. I can't think of a time when a customer apologized for snapping at me. If one had, I would have been more gracious than this guy was. In any place I have ever worked, were I to ever speak to a customer in the way this guy to did to us, regardless of the provocation, I would have been terminated.

If this guy's only infraction was the patronizing hipster attitude then it wouldn't have warranted mention here. It's the fact that 10 minutes later, after the apology, he still couldn't manage his rage that makes it interesting and that, in my view, makes him unsuitable for his position.

Edited by jimk (log)
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Then he asked the question that made both my Dining Companion (let's call her DC) and I bristle ... it was the "have you ever been here before?" question.

FWIW, we are semi-regular visitors for lunch on the weekends, and I think they've asked us that question every time we've been there, usually followed by a reminder that "the food comes out when it's ready".

Service at FC certainly can be puzzling - almost aggressively informal at times, but the last time we were there my wife asked for some help with the beer list and we were treated to an incredibly well-informed and thoughtful description of every item on the list - a sommelier at Cru couldn't have done better. And while the blaring, discordant music sometimes gets on my nerves, I also discovered a really great Arcade Fire song while dining there (can't remember ever getting turned out to some new music while dining before!). We often are amazed that we like the place as much as we do despite all the quirks - for us I guess it just works.

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I ate at the fatty crab for lunch today and thought it was great.

All i had was the pork belly and watermelon and i thought it was really good. Perfect mix of hot and cool, sweet and salty, fatty and fresh.

I was able to contain my food lust and just order one thing. It probably would be much more fun with a group of people to share a lot of different items. I was full afterward and reminded myself that i can always go back to try other things.

I think i had the same waiter mentioned before (irish guy with a short blonde ponytail) and he asked me if i had been there before, however i did not detect any bad attitude, more like just giving me a heads up that the food comes out whenever it is ready.

Having just moved to NYC about a month ago, i find it bizarre that both people who live here and tourists are terrified that someone will think they are from out of town.

Also i feel like him saying "its Ok to eat with your fingers" was not him being mean, i would assume he was just trying to make you feel more comfortable. It sounds like your friend was fairly rude to him, is it that surprising he was not that nice afterwards? People should not have to put up with others being rude to them even if they are a "lowly" server at a restaurant.

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