One of our formative food experiences was eating chilli crab in a hawker market in Singapore in 2010. Since it is not too common of a menu item in the US (especially in Chicago), we were delighted to find a place that offered chilli crab in our area, the oddly named Go 4 Food, (212 W 23rd St, Chicago) in Chinatown. We went there with one singular purpose in mind – Chilli crab – so this is not necessarily a review of the whole restaurant’s menu, but the chilli crab in particular.
Go 4 Food is located on a quiet side street away from the bustling Chinatown mall area and has a somewhat odd, but endearing 1980s futuristic vibe. It is also BYOB, which seemed to be a bit of a draw as well. The menu has both classic Cantonese dishes and some more modern fusion offerings. When you look at the menu, there are several preparations of crab: including shell-on, shell-off and softshell. They definitely take seafood seriously here! We ordered two crab preparations (market price: the two together cost $35), the Singaporean spicy crab (chilli crab) and the abstractly-named “fusion” crab. The fusion crab was in more a Indian curry-like sauce while the chilli crab is more tomato based. Our server assured us that the fusion crab was by far the more popular choice, but we wanted chilli crab so we went for broke and got both dishes (which we knew going in was going to be way too much food!)
Both of the dishes came out pretty quickly and we were astounded by the veritable mountain of dungeness crab before us. The crab legs were huge: deep fried in the shell, which was a somewhat unusual preparation, and not one we had encountered before. Both of the dishes were drenched in a soupy sauce, which made it a bit difficult to actually extract the meat from the legs, even with the provided shell/nut cracker. The fusion dish was mild, with a heavily spiced (but not spicy) tamarind and turmeric flavor while the chilli crab packed some definite heat. The crab itself was sweet and tender, and as we worked out way through the dish, we would like to think we became more adept at cracking the crab legs and claws (and whatever else). We worked our way through 40+ napkins trying to do so.
We really enjoyed our gluttonous crab feats at Good 4 Food, though the chilli crab we had there was not really the chilli crab we remembered from Singapore. Still, even though it is not quite what we were seeking, it was still quite delicious. We look forward to trying other dishes off the menu, especially the French-style beef which we hear is excellent. We would definitely go to Go 4 Food again, but maybe bring a bigger crowd with us.