After the Hainanese Chicken Rice, the chilli crab is probably the dish most synonymous with Singaporean cuisine. Following a chicken rice lunch at the "legendary" Chatterbox, what better option for dinner on the first day of my Singaporean trip, then, than a spot of chilli crab. Long Beach is a long-standing crab restaurant chain in Singapore, famed for inventing the Black Pepper Crab, in fact, but also reputed to dish out one of the best chilli crabs in town. My friends had actually taken me to another Long Beach branch, on East Coast Road, on my visit to Singapore last year, and we all came away somewhat disappointed. I was, thus, rather surprised to hear that they had selected the Long Beach outlet at Dempsey for our chilli crab meal this time, ahead of the not inconsiderable claims of the likes of No Signboard and Jumbo. But apparently the Dempsey venue was much better than the Easy Coast Road branch, so again, as with lunch, I deferred to the greater knowledge of the local residents.
Before the crab came a few of the supplementary dishes. Handmade Beancurd with Chef's Sauce was tasty, but the deep fried exterior of the tofu a tad on the soggy side by the time it reached my lips. You could literally taste the oil and the deep-fried-ness of the Fried You-Tiao with Minced Live Prawn and Fresh Crab Meat, but that's kind of the point with a dish like that - healthy it ain't, and never professed to me; but good, well that it is. Deep Fried Baby Squid was tiny squid deep fried until they were crisp and brittle, then coated in a sticky, sweet sauce. It was nice enough, but also quite chewy, and thus not something one could consume a whole lot of, if for no other reason than to give your jaw a bit of a break!
Special Roast Chicken was not all that special - the skin achieved the requisite crispiness, but the meat not the requisite moisture. It was also rather tasteless. 'Dong Po' Ribs with Honey Sauce were alright, but the sauce a bit overpowering.
Finally, onto the crab. We ordered both the Famous Black Pepper Crab and the
Popular Chilli Crab. The chilli crab was delicious and full of flavour; the mantou (bread) provided used copiously to lap up the lovely sauce. In contrast, the black pepper crab's was a more delicate taste; one that, in truth, got overwhelmed by its chilli counterpart.
In a nutshell...
There were a number of indifferent dishes, but on the whole, this was an enjoyable meal that easily surpassed the one we had at the Long Beach East Coast Road branch a year ago. As for the chilli crab - whilst it was definitely a good rendition, it wasn't so good that I could confidently proclaim it the best in Singapore without trying some of the other contenders.
Long Beach @ Dempsey
25 Dempsey Road, Singapore
Average Price: SGD 60