Fatty Crab Uptown
I don't know if the relatively new uptown Fatty Crab needs a new entry here, as the food is pretty much the same as at the original location. The main differences being that the UWS branch is larger and is on Open Table (an important distinction to me since I had a $20 rewards check burning a hole in my pocket and now thanks to the recession I feel less like a rube using a coupon).
But not being a mental multitasker, I feel compelled to post these photos and impressions so I can shift my thinking to from Malaysian food to spice-averse Madrid where I'll be in less than 24 hours.
I enjoy the food at Fatty Crab, always more than I expect that I will. No, it's not wholly traditional but the flavors are strong, funky and not tamed for Americans. My only quibbles are that the service is dudely, they overexplain everything (I do realize that Malaysian food isn't as familiar as Thai or Vietnamese to most New Yorkers and from my observations diners do ask lots of questions) and upsell on top of it, the pacing is random; things come out willy nilly and there can be ten-minute gaps between dishes. And, well, I would feel better if $3-$5 were shaved off the prices across the board (quality ingredients and labor intensive prep, acknowledged). Sounds like a lot of caveats, but I really like the food.
We went cross-cultural with small plates. First up the sliders: spicy, juicy, slightly fishy little meat blobs dressed with thick pickles and aioli. These were cute and packed a lot of punch into a small toasted package.
Because I am a weirdo who doesn't like hot dogs, I was wary of the Fatty Dog, but as soon as I realized it contained a house-made sausage and not a boiled wiener I was more excited. The pork sausage contains belachan, pickled garlic and XO sauce, not wiener-y at all. Combined with pickled chiles, garlic, radish, cilantro and cucumbers and spread out on a potato roll, it's more of an open-faced sandwich than finger food.
Thick and chewy hokkien noodles were so hefty they bent my wooden chopsticks. The dark sauce is sweet from kecap manis and tarted up with a bit of black vinegar. Small strips of beef, shrimp and little clams are the main ingredients, though I was impressed with the traditional addition of tiny crispy lard cubes. In Malaysia some health-minded hawkers have been moving away from using extra pork fat, and it would be a shame to omit that much needed touch here.
Kang kong, a.k.a. water spinach was appropriately shrimp pastey and chile hot. There's a lot more here than one would think. We were actually going to do without a vegetable side but our server made it sound like we'd suffer miserably if we didn't order a $9 bowl of greens.
We were totally full by the time the short rib rendang came out; I could only eat a small chunk. Both the meat and rice are saturated with coconut milk, so it was a bit rich as the final plate of food. Thankfully, the braised dish keeps well and improves with age. Combined with leftover kang kong, it was enough for a full dinner the following night. And I just happened to have some toasted coconut lying around from a Thai pomelo salad I'd made (with grapefruit from the huge unwelcome sack I've been trying use) earlier in the week to spruce the rendang up.
After cobbling together two dinners from our food on top of using the $20 voucher, I felt less reluctant to order a $12 Fatty Sour. It was a well-made cocktail, less sour and more herbal than a typical whisky sour, my drink of choice. The inclusion of Pedro Ximenez Sherry and real maraschino cherries rather than a slice of citrus, was welcome.
Fatty Crab Uptown * 2170 Broadway, New York, NY