QUESTION:I tried calling the consulate as if I was searching for a lost loved one. I contacted the Singapore Society. Alas, I can’t find chili crab, an irresistible fiery dish that I ate in an empty parking-lot-cum-restaurant in Singapore while sitting on a plastic chair, mopping up the red sauce with spongy white bread. Singaporeans claim it as a national dish, yet they don’t know where to eat it in Los Angeles?
—Mark, Los Angeles ANSWER:
ANSWER: Hey, I love chili crab too. Although I love black-pepper crab even more, especially when they make it with those fat Sri Lankan flower crabs. The grandfather of a Singaporean friend swears that those flower crabs are so good because they feast on the flesh of sailors thrown overboard by pirates. Those are pearls that were his eyes, scuttling claws, etc. Yum. There is nothing like a definitive chili crab around here — the closest I’ve tasted in the last few years was at a now-defunct Singaporean café in Monterey Park — and it was pretty awful, syrupy and catsupy where it should have been sharp and delicious. Which leaves us with the expensive, fatally mango-inflected pepper crab at Nonya in Pasadena, which I would avoid, or the spicy Vietnamese-style crab at Newport in the San Gabriel strip-mall that houses Golden Deli. It has almost nothing to do with a Singaporean chili crab, but it isn’t bad. Newport, 835 W. Las Tunas Dr. San Gabriel, (626) 289-5998. Got a burning culinary question? Try us: firstname.lastname@example.org