Tag: Zak Pelaccio

Springing forward to Fatty Crab

Sunday, March 9th, 2008 | All Things, Eats

Spring forward! It felt strange meeting MLF and LW for dinner with the sun still shining brightly overhead, but our respective evening commitments pushed the early dinner even earlier. In their case: a sexy cooking class. (Please direct all follow-up queries about the class particulars to them, thank you.)

No matter, I can eat at any time. I can also sleep at any time, in just about any place — ambient noise and lack of bed, notwithstanding: an ability honed through sleep-deprived years of riding the subway to and from school. But I digress. When in her old ‘hood, MLF likes to visit Mexicana Mama, so we were all looking forward to settling in for some salsa and margaritas on a lazy Sunday.

But alas, it was not to be.

Mex Mama closed

And that is how we ended up at Fatty Crab, farther up on Hudson.

Fatty Crab

At that early hour, we easily scored a table at the popular MePa spot. The pungent, delicious smells assaulted us as soon we stepped inside — that signature fishy funk American chef Zak Pelaccio came to crave during his time in Kuala Lumpur. Pelaccio is a proponent of Asian flavors in general, and his menu reflects that. Critics and diners alike have embraced his low-key, but sophisticated take on Malaysian cuisine.

“Fatty Duck,” Jalan Alor Chicken Wings, Heritage Foods Pork Ribs…. it all sounded divine. I don’t think I’ve been sadder to be off of meat than I was this evening. The Watermelon Pickle and Crispy Pork salad was tempting; Robert Sietsema recently revealed it to be one of his favorite foods. I settled instead for a glass of watermelon lime juice, which was bright and refreshing, but not the same.

MLF’s Short Rib Rendang, however, nearly did me in; fellow vegetarian LW and I hovered over the platter, taking in the heady perfume of meat, kaffir lime, coconut and chili. (The dish made an appearance at the Village Voice’s Choice Eats event at the Puck Building a couple days later.)

The three of us split an order of Lent-approved Veggie Steamed Buns and the Malay Fish Fry (finger-sized fillets of tumeric tempura, crab curry, green chili, tamaki) over shrimp-scented sticky rice.

Fatty Crab

The dishes emerged from the kitchen as they were ready (we were forewarned), and half an hour later, the pièce de résistance: the Chili Crab, a whole imposing Dungeness crab, served in a deep bowl of murky, red chili sauce. Mmm… dungeness crab. Framing the edge were points of smoky white toast, grilled over hardwood charcoal — all the better to sop up the run-off of chili crab juices pooled at the bottom. It is not a delicate affair, but entirely worth the mess.

Can’t wait for the UWS spinoff

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