If you can only eat one type of dish in Singapore, make sure it’s chili crab. The iconic Singaporean dish consists of a stir-fried crab swimming in a sweet, savory, and spicy combination of tomato sauce and chili sauce. Often served with fried buns called mantou, it’s generally considered as the unofficial national dish of the island.
The dish is found in plenty of seafood restaurants in Singapore, but if you want a taste of the best chili crab in the country, there are only a few places that can lay claim to the title.
Staying true to its name, the award-winning Jumbo Seafood serves extra-large crabs to ensure you don’t leave the seafood joint feeling unsatisfied. Foodies appreciate the hefty and meaty crabs as well as the joint’s original take on the classic tomato sauce with ground peanuts in the mix.
The original branch of Jumbo Seafood is at the East Coast Food Center, but it’s found in four other locations at Dempsey Hill, Riverside Point, The Riverwalk, and NSRCC’s Changi Clubhouse.
Long Beach Seafood Restaurant
Up for a good dose of spice? Long Beach offers one of the hottest chili crabs in Singapore with the spicy kick standing out and complementing the sweetness of the sauce. Then, if the spice of the original chili crabs still falls short of your liking, order a plate of the fiery black pepper crab.
Red House Seafood
Red House Seafood has been around since 1976, so it’s no surprise that it has perfected Singapore’s most famous dish. The restaurant’s version of chili crab is more sweet than spicy with a rich, mouthwatering sauce that goes perfectly with the crab meat. For travelers who are not used to spicy food, this is the perfect chili crab to try first. Choose from three different types of crab: Sri Lankan Mud Crab, Alaskan King Crab, and Scottish Brown Crab.
Drawing inspiration from a variety of Asian cuisines, such as Chinese, Peranakan, Indian, and Malay, Red House offers unique flavors that make it a mainstay on the Singaporean food scene.
Hua Yu Wee
While other seafood restaurants at the Upper East Coast Road have moved to new locations, Hua Yu Wee has remained in its original spot since the 1970s. It’s a treat to visit the bungalow-style diner that’s been around for nearly half a century, but nostalgia isn’t the only thing it has going for it.
Many Hua Yu Wee dishes are exceptional, but its succulent chili crab is a definite highlight. Be prepared for an extra spicy serving as the restaurant’s take on the dish is a bit zestier than most.
Blue Lotus Chinese Eating House
The award-winning Blue Lotus Signature Chilli Pomelo Crab is reason enough to visit the restaurant with a secret recipe of aromatic herbs and spices. A sprinkling of pomelo bits adds a bit of sweetness as well as acidity to balance the richness of the spicy tomato sauce.
Found on Sentosa Cove, travelers get to enjoy a stunning view of the ocean while enjoying chili crabs at Blue Lotus Chinese Eating House.
Palm Beach Seafood
As the story goes, the Palm Beach Seafood team of the original restaurant branch at Upper East Coast Road created the original chili crab in the 1950s. So, if you’d like to sample the original, visit the elegant Palm Beach Seafood at One Fullerton. Its signature Chilli Crab dish stays true to the original that was inspired by spice-heavy Peranakan cuisine.
Dragon Phoenix Restaurant
When famous chef Hooi Kok Wah opened the doors of Dragon Phoenix in 1963, he’s also said to have created the version of chili crab that’s now cooked and enjoyed all across Singapore. This chili crab recipe includes gravy with tomato paste, sambal, and eggs, instead of bottled tomato and chili sauce—and it’s still cooked to perfection in Dragon Phoenix today!
Learn more about Asian cuisine by signing up for an Asia 101 Cultural and Food Tour in Singapore. Dig in a variety of authentic dishes as you tour the cultural hubs within the city-state.