As its name implies, Soft Shell Crab Specialist Restaurant's signature dishes are its various renditions of the soft-shell crab, done more than a dozen ways. I tried the one recommended by the maitre'd this evening - stir-fried with salted duck's egg yolks: milky rich, slightly salty, explosively delicious in flavour, the crab-shell as crisp and sweet as the most delicate wafer one will ever taste.
Other dishes somewhat paled in comparison:
- Deliciously soft, eggy batons of tofu, braised in a delicate seafood sauce mottled with shrimps, cubed sea cucumber and broccoli flowerettes.
- A bubbling claypot of soft aubergines and minced pork in a complex, indecipherable soy-based sauce, topped with an astringent cluster of finely-chopped scallions. I can't help feeling how nice it would be to transform the dish from what seemed (to me) a homey Cantonese casserole to a fiery Sichuanese rendition by the mere introduction of a handful of fragrant dried chillies and a sprinkling of Sichuan peppercorns. But then, we are in KL, where the Chinese (who make up 45% of the city's populace) are mainly Cantonese.
- Another casserole, this one consisting of chicken & capsicums, cooked in Chinese rice wine, black vinegar and other "secret" ingredients, perfumed with Indian "kari" leaves so beloved by the Chinese-Malaysians. It was another dish which I thought one can replicate, with some degree of success, at home - not something I'd expected to find in a mid-end suburban Cantonese restaurant.
Steamed rice is an essential accompaniment to such strong-flavoured dishes. Overall, a good, rustic, robust-flavoured meal.
Soft Shell Crab Specialist Restaurant (软壳蟹皇海鲜饭店)
6 & 8, Jalan Kuchai Maju 1
Off Jalan Kuchai Lama
58200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-7982 6612