Visiting Chef Cheong Wen-kai of the Grand Hyatt Singapore Straits Kitchen is bringing the city-state's most celebrated dish - chili crabs - to the Pearl Liang Restaurant this week.
"It takes only a few minutes to cook this one-kilo crab," Cheong tells us over lunch last week. "Just cut it into pieces, cover the wok with a lid, and presto - it's done!"
When it comes to preparing chili crabs, the veteran chef is in a league all his own. The giant Sri Lankan crustaceans that he served us last Friday were incomparable to the chili crabs that we had tasted in the past. The crabs were chopped and smothered in a thick nippy sauce. The rich sauce was a perfect complement to the shellfish's sweet and tender meat. Diners were also invited to scrape the delicious sauce off the plate with slices of bread.
"You can use any kind of bread," says Cheong, adding that he brought his special sauce for the Grand Hyatt Taipei's chili crab promotion. "My favorite though is 'mantou.' It is soft, thick, and quite bland. It's a perfect vehicle for flavors."
A few minutes later, the chef brought in another platter of wok-fried black pepper crab. This time, the giant crustacean was smothered in a tangy black pepper sauce. Again, the thick sauce was perfect with the moist crab meat, and Cheong's perfectly cooked fried rice garnished with squid rings and shrimps.
Crabs are not Cheong's only speciality. His wok-seared prawns topped with garlic are equally phenomenal. The giant shrimps are cut in half, and cooked with sticks of lemongrass. Another exceptional dish, deep-fried pomfret with chili lime sauce, is best consumed with a bowl of steamed rice.
The chef is also bringing Singapore's very own oyster omelet to the Pearl Liang. Unlike Taiwan's omelet, Cheong's version used very little flour and loads of plump oysters. The accompanying sauce is also tangier and hotter.
The Pearl Liang's Singaporean menu also includes fried prawns with oats and eggs, wok-fried prawns with curry sauce, steamed fish Nonya-style, deep-fried baby squid with plum sauce, deep-fried stuffed you-tiao (traditional fried bread sticks) with a spicy dip, and kangkong (swamp cabbage) and cuttlefish with hoisin sauce.
The Singaporean Seafood Promotion at the Pearl Liang is scheduled until October 30.