I’ve been wondering about this cosy restaurant tucked in a corner of Xintiandi shopping area in Shanghai for a while. The first impression when I walked by it, fine dining – something south east asian, probably specializing in crab dishes. Fine dine crab restaurant? Wow, sounds delish! And I wasn’t wrong, Pulau Ketam is a modern crab house, possibly the first concept of its kind in Shanghai. Pulau Ketam literally means “crab island” in Malay and Bahasa Indonesia.
Like finding a treasure, I kept a note of that place in my mind. My husband and I are both crazy about Singaporean chili crab, a specialty that we’ve never managed to find outside of Singapore. There were times when we visited Singapore every 3 months for various reason and we never failed to have the chili crab. Every single time. Favorite place? Long Beach Seafood restaurant on Dempsey Road. We’ve tried a couple other places which claimed to be “the best chili crab in singapore” – but theirs weren’t even as good as the Long Beach crabs.
Shanghai Restaurant Week was back on again. And guess what, Pulau Ketam was one of the featured restaurant. Oh yes, yes, yes! Finally. We get to eat chili crab again. Seats were sold out fast. Only dinner seat was available. One seat. Still, I booked a table for two. On the last minute, hubby called for a meeting and I had to go alone.
As soon as I stepped into the restaurant, a warm welcome from the host greeted me, checked on the guest list quickly while a smiling girl offered a scented cold towel with shots of cooled welcome drinks. The SRW menu was paired with wine, which I only noticed after ordering a glass of new zealand wine. The organic salad entree was such a refreshing start, mainly because of the sweet tamarind dressing and generous amount of sweet caramelized walnuts paired nicely with the dressing.
The next course was something that sounded sexy when the waitress explained the dish before presenting it. Coconut milk tofu with ground okra topping on a bed of steamed spinach in a delicious crab soup. For real. It tasted sexy too. Love it, love it, love it!!!
Next was, something that would have been a boring dish somewhere else. But not here. Tenderloin beef cooked to perfection, golden potatoes, grilled onion and deep fried basil. Delicious, but I was already too eager for the next dish. The chili crab.
Finally, the long awaited dish of the night. Chili crab. The thick of its shell I could see on its cracked claw was a promise of sweet juicy meat inside. The portion was obviously way too big for one person, but perfect for two. It was very nice, the best I’ve ever tasted in Shanghai, but still it was missing just a teeny weeny something I couldn’t put a finger on. Ah, perhaps a splash of tamarind or a teeny weeny of sugar. I wasn’t too sure. The crab was beautifully juicy and sweet though. I liked it.
Having been served the largest meal, I thought dinner was over and was getting ready to settle. More to come, yes, two more dishes. The signature dish of Singapore garlic fried noodles and dessert. Even though I was pretty full, I couldn’t miss the garlic noodles. Had to try it. And… it was sooooo good. Such a simple dish using fried garlic but such an intense flavor and intensely moreish.
I definitely will come back with hubby, ordering the garlic noodles with perhaps the black pepper crab which gets raving reviews. Thank you Pulau Ketam!
Xintiandi S. Block, Lane 123, 2-3
Xingye Lu, near Madang Lu
新天地, 兴业路123弄2-3号, 近马当路
Tel: 5306 3706
Hours: 11:30am~2pm, 5:30~10:30pm