When I heard Dancing Crab is by Tunglok, I mistook it for a Chinese restaurant; it is, in fact, a Cajun seafood restaurant, communal-styled, similar to Cajun Kings and Crabs in Da Bag. The seafood comes in a big bag: myriad tastes interact, making the seafood richer and sweeter. The seafood can be strewn on the table or remain in the pot. Use your hands and eat with abandon. This also means you can’t reach for your handphone. It’s a test of your social skills.
The space used to house M.A.D., a restobar that was a collaboration between local singer-songwriter Dick Lee and Tunglok. Mad Chinaman Lee’s concept is now moved to Jakarta. The decor is slightly refurbished, murals of Chinese opera masks removed in favor of a dancing crab and hanging fish nets. But still, the ambience was rocking, with country music, such as “Barefoot Blue Jeans Night” and Louis Armstrong’s songs, softly crooning in the background, recalling the spirit of Louisiana.
Although the concept for communal Creole cuisine was hatched some time ago, Dancing Crab refused to open its doors until it found the perfect recipe – and it did, an old family recipe from New Orleans, giving depth to the Combo Bag #1 (Sri Lankan crab, 300g prawns, 250g mussels, potatos, corn, sausages, $80, suitable for 4 pax). My throat itches when I eat stale seafood, and it didn’t itch that day. That was how I knew the seafood was fresh, especially the meaty and juicy crab.
You can choose from 3 sauces, created by Chef Susur Lee, to go with your seafood: Dancing Crab Signature (tomatoy with a hint of chili), or herb butter, or beurre blanc (white butter). For the combo bag, we had the signature sauce, and for the Alaskan King Crab Legs (pictured above, $13/100g), it was herb butter, which was awesome, very garlicky.
Like mantou for chili crab, mini cornbread ($5) can be used to dip in the sauces. I know this sounds strange, corn muffin in sauce? But the cornbread wasn’t sweet, so when it soaked up the sauce, it tasted like soft corn that melted in the mouth.
Not only were the seafood fantastic, the snacks were epic too. Crab cakes ($13, above), a must-order, was packed with shredded sweet crab, and the crust so crispy you could hear a crunch in your head. Huccalily said, “Anyone on a diet shouldn’t come here; the carbs are irresistible.” She was referring to the seafood gumbo ($11), spicy, tangy and exciting, and garlic noodles ($6), which could be more garlicky but had an aromatic wok hei!
Here and there, there are hints of Dancing Chef’s Chinese origins: noodles with wok hei, and cornbread dipped in sauces. Some may complain that the Cajun restaurant isn’t authentic enough but I don’t care. I only care if it is spit or swallow. And I’d gladly swallow everything here. There aren’t many restaurants I would return because I like to try new things, but I’m willing to go back to Dancing Crab with my friends and family. Great for large groups.
200 Turf Club Road, The Grandstand #01-20/21, Singapore 287994
T-F & PH eve: 5-10.30pm
Sat, Sun, & PH: 11.30am-3pm, 5-10.30pm
Rating: 3.475/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.
ps: Thanks, Amanda, Steve, Norman, and Carolyn, for the hospitality.