In case you don't know by now, my family LOVES crabs. I cannot emphasize that enough. I grew up on a weekly diet of crabs. We were thinking of where to celebrate some personal milestone of mine, and the first thought that popped into my head was, "crabs". That's just how much I love crabs.
We headed to a reliable seafood chain, Jumbo, and opted to go to the Dempsey outlet because it's near many watering holes and cafes for post-dinner dessert and drinks.
Reservations here are an absolute must, because this place is always packed. Like sardines packed. Of all of the Jumbo outlets, this is the place that I feel most "rushed". The servers don't explicitly chase you off after dinner and tell you to "move it move it", but there are less-than-subtle hints. Like how you're told that the dinner seating is only for an hour and a half, or how speedy fast the dishes arrive, and in such quick succession, or how efficiently the plates are cleared after dinner as well. This is so not the place to linger after a meal, and I don't like it.
I know there are quite a number of places that do this double or triple seatings for mealtimes, but that doesn't make it acceptably right. This is exactly the reason why I avoid a lot of the Chinese restaurants during CNY eve. It's quite evident that restaurants do this to turnover the dining capacity and so increase profits, but it sucks the soul out of what-should-have-been-a-wonderful meal. I don't like being time-constrained like that. I pay good money for my food, and should be allowed to enjoy my meal at my own leisure. If I want to take 3 hours to eat my meal, then so be it.
We started with the Seafood Bacon Roll ($12 for small), which would have been scrumptious but for the liberal coating of that cloying salad cream. The springy fried seafood paste and bacon wrapping were more than sufficiently tasty, and the salad cream was just a case of too many cooks. The salad cream would have been much better served as a dip on the side for those who have an incessant need to put salad cream on everything.
We also got the Ribeye Fillet with Pepper Sauce ($22 at $11 per piece) for the meat lovers. Luckily, the pepper sauce for this was served on the side, because the beef was flavoursome on its own. Besides, we weren't terribly excited about the pepper sauce, it was very starchy verging on goopy and looked generically straight out of the bottle.
The Braised Homemade Beancurd ($16 for small) with spinach and mushrooms is one of more restaurant fine-dining vegetable dishes on the menu, but a more rustic version. A trio of shimeiji, enoki and Chinese black mushrooms braised in oyster sauce is laid upon smooth beancurd and softly wilted spinach. Wonderful balance of textures here.
My brothers' favourite (they have to get this at every seafood joint), the Donut with Seafood Paste ($10 for small) tasted a little refried so it was super duper crunchy, but it was addictively good nonetheless.
The Scallops wrapped in Yam Ring ($16 for small) is a must try here. There have been imitators of this incomparable appetizer but no one has come close. There's just something about the grounded sweetness of the mashed yam and seafresh sweetness of the scallops that marries so perfectly.
The Herbal Drunken Live Prawns ($6.50 per 100g) is a signature here and for good reason. The broth is rich and heady, good to the last drop. I love how the aromatic tangkwei and sweet wolfberries complements the delicate sweetness of the fresh prawns.
The Fried Rice ($12 for small) with salted fish and chicken had a nice wok hei. Smoky, flavourful and loaded with scrambled eggs and chicken chunks.
Blk 11 #01-13 Dempsey Road
Tel: 6479 3435
Open Mondays to Fridays from 12noon to 3pm for lunch and 6pm to 12midnight for dinner;
Weekends and PH from 12noon to 3pm for lunch and 5.30pm to 12midnight for dinner