Grub/Spirits Restaurant Reviews — 09 June 2011
Fatty Crab: A Restaurant Review

Fatty Crab
643 Hudson Street near Horatio Street, West Village, (212) 352-3590
Getting There: A,C,E to 14th Street; L to Eighth Avenue

The bright red awning bearing the small yellow letters that read “Fatty Crab” does not necessarily jump out at you as a must try west village haunt. In fact, during any casual stroll through the picturesque neighborhood, you might even disregard it completely. But after enjoying an early outdoor dinner on the trendy restaurant’s front patio, it’s infinitely clear that Fatty Crab’s immense praise has been appropriately bestowed.

Part of what makes the restaurants in the Fatty family so fantastic is their unabashed indifference to being different. The staff is as friendly and laid back as the buddies you would relate to in college- only they are waiting on you constantly, from napkins to refills, like any restaurant should. Inside, the tables are in close proximity, surrounding the small bar space and exposed brick wall, while the diminutive dining area is filled with energetic conversation and boisterous, excitable patrons. And they don’t take reservations downtown (the upper west side location does), which makes securing a dinner space a relative challenge. But since the food (and the original, but pint-sized cocktails) is so delectable, the wait hardly matters; and being seated directly behind from the Black Eyed Peas on this evening didn’t bother us all that much either.

Much like their sister restaurant (Williamsburg’s Fatty ‘Cue), the Crab encourages shared plates, meshing a bevy of pork and meat dishes with a Malaysian infused tinge, but the menu here does offer more in the way of noodle, soups, rice, and vegetables. Not wasting any time, we immediately dug into the “Fatty sliders” ($12), two miniature burger patties made up intricately with spiced pork and beef. The meat was laid out on a fresh, savory bun and topped with a slice of lettuce, a large dill pickle chip, and a spread of creamy sauce. The savory, larger than bite sized burgers proved exceptional, especially when paired with the sticky sweet sauce of the “steamed pork buns” ($13). Two deliciously, pilloughy buns stuffed with tender, salty cooked pork dominated the plate, sided by a small bowl of the mouth-watering dipping sauce, and a small bed of greens topped with a quarter-cooked egg. The combination of sides proved incredibly complimentary when stuffed inside each of the buns, as we eyed the delivery of our main entrée.

Far too often, we take the time to visit some fantastic Manhattan eateries and regrettably pass on their signature dishes in favor of typically lighter, albeit different fare. Not this time. Bypassing several “Fatty Specialties” like the “watermelon pickle and crispy pork” ($17) and the “Fazio Farms Fatty duck” ($23), we took our server’s recommendation and decided on the famed “Chili Crab” (MP). The dish, intended for two, was priced high at $58, but was unlike any seafood dish we’ve had the pleasure of tasting. It should be noted, first and foremost that the dish is a literal mess. Served in a small soup bowl, the well-sized crabs have every inch covered in thick, orange chili sauce, which was surprisingly mild and which can only be described as incredible. The bulky, toasted white bread feared for its life with every grab, as we drowned piece by piece in a sea of saucy coating. The side of sticky white “coconut rice” ($4) topped with brown, toasted coconut flakes partnered appropriately as a side dish, while we alternated between starches. As expected, breaking the crabs open for the meat proved challenging, what with our hands caked in the salty sauce. But the freshly prepared seafood dish was intensely flavorful, capping off an excellent dining experience just as the sun was setting.

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