Last week, I read a Zagat blog round-up of soft-shell crab dishes in LA and zeroed in on the Singaporean-style rendition at chef Bryant Ng's The Spice Table. Since we already love the restaurant, my boyfriend and I immediately made a reservation and had soft-shell crab on the brain for the rest of the work week.
When Saturday finally rolled around and it was time for dinner, our server informed us that they were sold out of several dishes...and the Singaporean Soft-Shell Chili Crab was one of them. This news was so crushing that my memory of turning to Justin, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, is in slow motion. After shaking off our disappointment, we selected a handful of our favorite dishes plus another crab special of which we snagged the last order.
Our eyes lit up when the mountain of Salted Duck Egg Crab Bee Hoon ($28.00) hit the table. The vermicelli noodles tossed with salted duck egg yolk, chilis, ginger, pea tendrils and shredded dungeness crab and topped with a snow crab were delightfully super spicy, and the hearty chunks of pristine crab meat hit the spot.
As we were slowing down, our server came to our table and asked, "Are you guys still hungry?" She had overheard the kitchen talking about one soft-shell crab now available and said she didn't know where the crab came from, but it was ours if we still wanted it. I think you know was our answer was.
The Singaporean-style dish featured a tempura-fried soft-shell crab served with a tomato chili sauce and a thick slice of toast ($18.00). The golden, crispy tempura crust soaked up the subtle heat of the chili sauce, and the crusty toast provided the perfect vessel to mop up any leftover goodness. The relatively tame chili sauce could have benefited from some of the ass-kicking heat of the Crab Bee Hoon, but the dish was still delicious, especially because it almost didn't happen.
While this Thai Iced Tea Soft Serve ($5.00) is obviously not one of The Spice Table's crab specials, its milky sweetness provided the perfect counterpoint to the heat of our meal and was excellent.
According to the Zagat blog post, Chef Ng estimates that soft-shell crab will be on the menu for about a month, but each day's menu depends on the availability and size of the crabs, so call ahead to check if you're feeling crabby!
The Spice Table
114 S. Central Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012