Eat Alexandra Chili Crab at Keng Eng Kee Seafood

by | Nov 5, 2018

“Did you know Anthony Bourdain ate with the family here?”

“Did I know? I saw the episode before coming over!”

Keng Eng Kee Seafood tl;dr

  • Fresh Crab and Steamed Buns!
  • Great Service, Great Outdoor Seating, and Available Indoor Tables
  • More Importantly They’re Good Enough for Bourdain, They’re Good Enough for EVERYONE!

One thing you must eat when you’re in Singapore, other than chicken rice, is chili crab! Don’t worry if you don’t like chili crab, there are several other sauced seafood crustacean preparations that will complete your culinary journey to Asia’s Little Red Dot as well.

A long time ago, when I first visited Singapore I was first introduced to Singaporean Chili Crab! I was served a freshly cooked crab slathered in a sweet, tangy and spicy sauce that simply blew my mind.  I raved about it so much that I advise all my visiting friends and family to eat chili crab when they’re in Singapore.

Crab Meal Keng Eng Kee Singapore 07KEK Meal

Crab Supply and Demand

Like most delicious things, crab is considered a luxury. And as with most luxuries, these clawed things come at a higher than normal cost.

One time my parents were in Singapore and ate chili crab at my suggestion. The thing is, I didn’t realize that it was Chinese New Year during their visit and they were shocked by the meal and the price. CNY not only drove up the crowd attendance but shot the price up to astronomical proportions. I had no idea about this time sensitive food culture that was Singapore!

When I later moved to Singapore with my wife, Nadia, I vowed to find a better value crab place.

Shrimp Keng Eng Kee SingaporeSalted Egg Prawns
Clams Keng Eng Kee SingaporeChili Sauce Clams

Crab Places in Singapore?

I scoured the internet and asked everyone I knew where to get great crab in Singapore. I understand that people have their preferences and are equally susceptible to marketing and habits but I kept hearing the same 3 names. And I know those venues are good, but I sometimes wonder whether they are telling me what they think I want to hear:

  • Jumbo Seafood
  • Long Beach Seafood
  • No Signboard Seafood

Don’t get me wrong! Those 3 places are great Singaporean Seafood institutions, way overpriced, but institutions none the less. I’d probably eat there if I had an unlimited budget and some business people to impress. Their ambiance is top notch, service is typically on point and linens are starched; as it should be since you’re paying for all of that.

However the thing is, when I’m looking for someplace to eat… I don’t need any of those things to complete my meal. All those factors are nice but at the end of the meal they are things I’m paying for that I can’t eat!

Steamed Fish
Squid Keng Eng Kee Seafood SingaporeCereal Squid
Cereal Prawn Keng Eng Kee SingaporeCereal Prawns

My Decision Making Process

The only thing that currently matters to me is “How good does it taste?” Everyone has their criteria and I respect that but mine revolves around quality and execution of the meal. Now that I’m thinking about it, it’s kind of like how you hear about a person puts a stack of $1’s on the table for tip and then subtracts bills for every mistake:

  • Is there a ridiculously long line? That takes away from the taste.
  • Is this meal inappropriately expensive? That takes away from the taste.

On the flip side, if the food is great then I’m adding bills to that tip stack:

  • Short line? It just got tastier. (to be fair, I’m willing to go early to avoid lines)
  • It doesn’t break my monthly budget? Tastier still!
  • Service? Better the service, the tastier it is.
Water Spinach Keng Eng Kee Seafood SingaporeSambal Kang Kong
Horfun Keng Eng Kee SingaporeHor Fun Noodles with Egg Gravy
Claypot Keng Eng Kee SingaporeClay Pot Seafood Beancurd

Keng Eng Kee!

I found a no nonsense spot that serves great crab at a reasonable price. Hell, you’ll probably feel like a local eating there! The staff is amazing, the open air seating is nice, and . If you need air conditioning then get a group of 10 and make a reservation for their indoor tables for colder temperatures. Rest assured that KEK isn’t the typical meet and greet place for business folks but instead for the everyday local.

Keng Eng Kee can get busy like anywhere else, but if you go early, I promise you the following!

  1. You will get a table!
  2. There will be crabs (they can run out)!
  3. Early dinner means more time for you to roll your overstuffed body home…
Tofu Keng Eng Kee SingaporeChoy Hiang Beancurd | Fried Home Made Tofu
Tiger Beer Keng Eng Kee Seafood SingaporeTiger Beer!

Crab Feed with All the Fixins!

There are many places to go for crab in Singapore, but there is only one Keng Eng Kee. You can get any seafood you want, prepared in all manners of Singaporean Chinese ways. They have crab, fish, shrimp, vegetables, tofu, drinks and more! You want it, they probably have it!

My personal favorite is their chili crab! It’s delightfully sweet, tangy and the right level of spice. As much as I enjoyed their pepper crab, a whole crab to myself is a little much for me. I’d only want a few choice bites before going back to the chili crab. I could eat that chili sauce all day!

Chili Crab Keng Eng Kee SingaporeChili Crab
Pepper Crab Keng Eng Kee SingaporePepper Crab
Steamd Buns Keng Eng Kee SingaporeNecessary Fluffy Steamed Buns!

Unless You Got Buns, Hun!

Did I mention the steam buns? These are a necessity to flesh out the entire crab eating experience. The staff usually suggests 1-2 buns per person. I say get more buns! Most everyone, my wife included, always tell me to start off with less than more but by the end of the meal, I end up ordering additional servings.

Don’t forget about those steamed buns… How else are you going to sop up all the chili sauce!

I admit that these fist sized steam buns are big. They are also delicious! I haven’t had buns like these anywhere else. I’ll eat them throughout the meal, repeatedly dipping ripped off portions in chili sauce, and then wash it down with a cold beer.

Bit of advice, if you need more sauce for all your extra buns then ask to order a cheaper dish in the sauce you want! It’ll be the same sauce as on the crab, but not at crab prices. Even though their crab prices are cheaper than a lot of other places you can buy more buns with the money you saved.

Nadia JM Keng Eng Kee Seafood SingaporeNadia and JM Eating Outside

On a Side Note | Anthony Bourdain

In light of his passing, I was shocked and blown away that when I watched CNN’s Parts Unknown episode of Singapore, Anthony Bourdain ate with the KEK family household. I recognized the family members from the restaurant and felt a sense of, I don’t know what to call it…

Camaraderie?
A brotherhood?
Some kind of bonding with the man…

I don’t normally get star struck, he’s just a guy who put on his pants one leg at a time like anyone else. But it’s sobering to think that I’ve read his books, seen him live, and eaten at the same places as he did.

I’d like to think he and I could have had a great meal together; talking, eating, and drinking the night away. He seemed like a really cool guy with a unique perspective and enchanting honesty.

In death, as in life, he still inspires me to write…
And eat.

Keng Eng Kee Seafood

 

Where do you like to go for crab in Singapore?!?!?

You're going to eat, you might as well eat something tasty.
 
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