Typically when I find myself in Singapore, I’m either en route to a holiday destination, or home to Kuching to visit family and stuff myself with local Foochow or Sarawak specialities that I have been waiting impatiently for. Singapore is a refuelling stop, rather than a food destination for me.
But I have friends and extended family residing in Singapore, and these stopovers are a great chance to catch up. This time Dad and I managed to meet up with two cousins, and in Singapore, there is no better place to re-visit family ties than over some famous chilli crabs.
No Signboard is one of those hawker places made good, and now boasts several branches across Singapore. This one in the red light district of Geylang is the original and still considered to be the best. I’ve been to Singapore at least a dozen times, and never once realised there is a red light district! I have since made up for my ignorance in a big way. KC had parked his car in Lorong (Lane) 24A Geylang, and when we got back, there were several ladies of the night draped over his car who had to ushered off. I was the sua ku (mountain tortoise, i.e. country bumpkin) cousin.
The Sri Lankan crabs are priced at $55/kg; a medium crab weighs around 600g which is plenty for 2 people if you are ordering other dishes. We asked to have a crab cooked with chilli, one in salted egg, plus some fried mantou to mop up the gravy. I’ve been sadly conditioned to the small crabs in NZ, and was not quite prepared for sight of these meaty glorious beasts. To my great delight, the salted egg crab was a female, and there was plenty of delicious roe as well.
The chilli crab was spicy, way too spicy for my conservative Foochow tastebuds. I should have realised that before I ordered it, as the 3 other Foochow people around the table all struggled with the level of chilli heat. The gravy was thick and eggy. The salted egg crab was marvellous; unctuous and creamy, a delicious base to the sweet, succulent crab meat. I’m still dreaming of this. ($80 for the two crabs, $4 for 8 mantous).
I was surprised to see bull frog on the menu, and to appease my curiosity, I ordered some cooked with ginger and spring onion ($20). I was tricked into eating frog when I was very young, and have stayed clear of them since. I shouldn’t have bothered; frog meat has an odd slightly fishy taste, with a strange soft but chewy texture and not a completely pleasant experience. I should have gone for the clams instead.
We ordered the house tofu ($15), and what came was a beautiful concoction of seaweed topped soft egg tofu, deep-fried and covered with gravy, and fresh mushrooms on the side.
A side order of baby kalian ($8) is always a welcoming sight. These were sweet and crunchy.
There was too much food for 4 of us, and I thought it was very reasonably priced for the quality of the food. The service is somewhat brusque, but very efficient, and the food came quickly.
We were seated indoors in the air-conditioned area, but most people sat outside, with a view to the bustling Geylang district. The next time I’m back in Singapore, another trip to No Signboard wouldn’t go amiss.
No Signboard Restaurant
No 414 Mattar Road,
Ph: 6842 3415