Tag Archives: Chilli Crab

Go 4 Food: Chilli Crab in Chicago

chinasingaporeOne 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

Go 4 Food

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!)

Go 4 Food Crab

Go 4 Food Fusion Crab

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.

Go 4 Food Crab

Go 4 Food Spicy Singaporean Crab

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.

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Singapore: Chilli Crab

Chilli Crab is the national dish of Singapore – a whole fresh crab cooked in a spicy tomato and chili broth. We’d been craving Chilli Crab for about a year before we went to Singapore, when the dish was introduced to us by way of a recipe attached to a miniature chilli crab stuffed animal, who took part in our chilli crab adventure below. There’s nowhere to get it in Chicago, and we are definitely not ambitious enough to do it on our own in seafood-starved hometown (Here’s a Recipe if you feel like DiY-ing it). We saved our chilli crab experience for our last hawker center experience in Singapore, saving the best for last, you could say.

We went along with one of my (L’s) colleagues, who had recently moved to Singapore, along with two other friends to the Newton Food Center, just outside of the Singapore city center. The Newton Food Center specialized in seafood, and it shows the second you enter. There were many chilli crab stalls with many eager chefs ready to call us to attention. The stall we settled on was my colleague’s favorite, and when we saw a cage of real live crabs for picking we knew we were in the right place. Once we picked out our crab (Sorry little guy!) we paid by weight and went to sit down for our chilli crab to arrive.

After about 15 minutes a gargantuan plate landed before us. The chilli crab, still wholly intact arrived steaming in a plateful of spicy hot bright-red tomato and chili broth. The only way into the dish was with our hands. Good thing we had a lot of napkins….  It took some elbow grease to crack the claws, but the reward was great. The crab couldn’t have been fresher and the chili sauce was the perfect blend of sweet and savory. Despite the intimidating name, the dish itself wasn’t terribly spicy (perhaps to the disappointment by the heat-seeking M).

For side dishes we got mantou and the misleadingly named carrot cake. Mantou are tiny steamed wheat rolls taken from Chinese cuisine which are perfect for sopping up the chili broth. Carrot cake, as we described in our Malaysian post is a stir fry with eggs and root vegetables. Our final Hawker market experience in Singapore was definitely our best and our group ate like kings. We will be thinking about our swan song meal in Singapore for years to come.

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