We are now a month into the circuit breaker and the idea of home-cooked meals has probably gotten stale by now. Plus, with Mother’s Day around the corner (it’s this Sunday!), many of you might have been tearing your hair out over how to honour the most important lady (or ladies) in your family this year amidst all the restrictions.
Worry no more as 8 Crabs is here to save the day!
I wouldn’t blame you if you’ve never heard of this establishment prior to reading this review, considering that the 8 Crabs website was only set up a month ago (yes, I did my background check because I was sceptical as well, and as for why there are reviews dated to 2017 on the website, I’m equally puzzled about it and have sought clarification). But that is not to say that they are inexperienced in the culinary arena. In fact, its parent company Eight Foods Pte Ltd (not the business’ originally registered name so I’ve reached out to find out more too) is one that specialises in the import of live seafood such as wild-caught crabs, sea cucumber, prawns, grouper, and tilapia from Sri Lanka. Peeved at the prevailing dishonesty in the food industry, Eight Foods started 8 Crabs to fill the gap for providing the freshest crab at a fixed rate.
Rather than operating from brick-and-mortar restaurant, 8 Crabs is based out of a virtual zi char kitchen (yay to no GST and service charge!) that offers islandwide delivery of its premium cooked seafood without a minimum order. Today, Sri Lanka is home to their own processing premises where freshly caught crabs are brought in daily by their fishermen, and delivered from to the local airport which is just an hour’s drive away. The strategic location of their premises means that the packing time is drastically shortened, thus heavily reducing the risk of ammonia excretion (the byproduct of the decomposition of seafood) in stressed crabs. In addition, the fished crabs also have to be examined and approved by their crab graders before they are exported, so you can be assured of the quality – and meatiness – of your crab!
My apologies to my Muslim readers as 8 Crabs is non-halal.
Wah, crabs?! Confirm expensive!
When 8 Crabs offered to credit a certain value into my account for me to pick out any dishes I wanted to try within given budget, I couldn’t help but snigger a little. As a crab enthusiast who dines at seafood restaurants at least twice a year (because I like to spoil my parents rotten on their birthdays), I know very well how crabs are priced – by their weight – and I had the inkling that the amount was not going to be enough to cover the price of a crab for three. But I was so wrong! I did my math and figured that I could actually get a complete 4-course meal – crab inclusive – for my family with the voucher 😱 I was shookth. Crabs can be affordable!
The prices vary according to the size of the crab: S$60 for medium (2 pieces), S$68 for large, S$118 for extra-extra large (depending on the catch for the day, some sizes may not be available). These prices are reflected clearly on website with no hidden charges so you won’t get a rude shock when you cart out your order!
Impressed by the transparency of 8 Crabs, I went on and added two crabs and other complementary dishes to the cart, gladly exceeding the budget given to me. Of course, I paid the difference out of my own pocket (it’s not a lot anyway 😉). After my order was completed, I received an invoice in my e-mail and was surprised that it was billed by Masons Home Decor Pte. Ltd. instead. There is no mention of their affiliation anywhere on the website (or anywhere on the internet) so I presume Masons Home Decor is just a sister brand of 8 Crabs.
[6 May 2020] I’ve contacted the marketing team for clarification of all the questions raised in this review and will update here once I get a response 🙂 For now, let’s just focus on the food! [As of 23 May 2020, no response received]
Just how.. does crab delivery work?!
My order met the requirement for free delivery (free for orders above $120. Otherwise, S$8 for same-day delivery or S$18 for express delivery) and I was prompted to select my preferred delivery time slot at checkout: 12:30-13:00 (lunch), 18:00-19:00, 19:00-20:00, 20:00-21:00, 21:00-22:00 or 22:00-23:00. Since this was meant to be dinner, I opted for the first evening time slot (18:00-19:00), bracing myself for a possible delay during that peak hour.
The doorbell rang. Time check. It was only 5.45pm and the deliveryman was already at my door with plastic bags containing my dinner in his hands. For a moment, I panicked because my mother was still in the kitchen preparing some other dishes to go with the crab feast and she wouldn’t be done until at least 30 minutes later. Oh well.. I guess that’s a small price to pay for not taking their promise of one-hour delivery seriously! I mean, they even promise a full refund if they are late!
So.. what did I order? (Warning: do not proceed if you are burning the midnight oil)
Black Pepper Crab (Large, S$68)
Salted Egg Crab (Large, S$68)
The crab menu is streamlined to increase efficiency in the kitchen and perhaps, save customers the headache of deciding on the flavour since there are only three to choose from: black pepper, chilli and salted egg. Is anyone else mildly disappointed that creamy butter flavour didn’t make it to the list? No? Just me? ☹️
A large crab at 8 Crabs weighs approximately 750g which I reckoned was just about right for three people. But as a family of crab lovers, one was definitely not going to cut it to satiate our appetites. Therefore, I got two in different flavours
so that I could have at least one pincer all to myself! This may sound treacherous but I am not big on our national crab flavour at all so I went with salted egg and black pepper. The salted egg one was a mix of chunky and creamy, and wasn’t overwhemingly sweet (kids friendly!) while the spice in the black pepper carried some kick (your fiesty folks will love this!). Both boxes came with a generous amount of sauce in them.
The size of the crabs met my expectations and both crabs were delightfully meaty. Thankfully, most, if not all inaccessible and obscured parts of the crab were already cracked so crab crackers were absolutely unnecessary during the span of our meal. Furthermore, since both crabs were so fresh, the succulent meat just slid off the shell without the aid of any seafood picks! Yes, even the hard-to-reach meat in the fingers and pereopods (those little legs)! Ah-mazing, right?!?!
Sorry, no additional pictures of the crabs because my hands were tied and I didn’t want to soil my camera! But take my word for it – they were good.
Fried Man Tou (a set of 5, S$6)
Where crab dishes are concerned, it is almost an unspoken rule that they must be paired with fried man tou, or fried buns in Mandarin, for dipping into the savoury crab sauce (or condensed milk at your own expense, if you’ve more of a sweet tooth). I was thrown off by the price (as a benchmark, restaurants usually sell fried man tou for 80 cents each) at first but when I saw the buns, I understood why – these guys were humongous; each was about the size of my palm! They were deep fried to a golden brown and despite being left on my dining table for an hour, they were still crispy on the outside and light and fluffy inside. Be careful not to over-order, though, as these buns – I repeat – are super-sized.
Prawn Paste Chicken (Medium, S$18)
In contrast, the prawn paste chicken was a bit of a let-down. The prawn paste smelt slightly burnt and wasn’t as aromatic as I hoped (the unmistakable har cheong fragrance was largely absent). Although juicy, the mid-joint wings were pretty much meatless and the crust (or lack thereof) wasn’t crispy (to be fair, they probably lost a lot of crunch in transit, but the texture was just.. flat). I wouldn’t recommend this. Stick to their crabs, if you may, or try other dishes on the menu!
That said, dinner was a blast and went well beyond my expectation. My parents, who never had the chance to attend tasting events with me previously (thank you, 8 Crabs for making this experience possible!), enjoyed the crabs tremendously and wouldn’t mind having them again. Hopefully, 8 Crabs would consider adding creamy butter flavour to the menu before that happens 😬
What are your thoughts about 8 Crabs? Would you give them a shot? Let me know your views in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!