By Henry Su
Xintiandi’s newest addition is a crab-lover’s dream come true. The restaurant draws its title from the Malaysian village that literally translates to “crab island” and Pulau Ketam takes its namesake seriously. There are private tables that are reminiscent of the floating wooden houses that dot the island’s coastline and the refreshing sweet lemongrass drink offered by the hostess upon entry prepares you for a tropical culinary adventure.
This upscale crab house features Singaporean delights with the main attractions being chili crab and black pepper crab. The modest menu still provides enough Southeast Asian choices to savor ranging from Singapore Street Food samplers (98 RMB) to Crab Bisque (128 RMB). Before embellishing on sides or appetizers, let me jump straight to the main attraction. The authentic chili crab bears testament to the fact that the head chef is Singaporean. It brought back memories of the years I lived in Singapore getting my hands dirty digging into my favorite crustacean. However, at Pulau Ketam, they provide a classy cloth apron rather than a plastic bib and a his & her bowl of lemon water along with a cool wet towel to wipe away the crab debris. The huge dungeness crab is enough for two (520 RMB – 1 kg) and comes with 3 golden fried mantou to sop up the delicious chili gravy. The sauce was so good we ordered an extra serving of the crispy mantou (38 RMB for 3 pieces).
Apart from the crab, the other dishes should not be overlooked. For example, the homemade tofu on spinach with crab sauce (68 RMB) features silky, pan-fried bean curd topped with chunks of crab meat over a bed of greens. One must try the signature garlic noodles (68 RMB), a secret blend of spices wok-fried to produce noodles with intense garlic flavor cooked to the perfect texture. Finally, the Chicken and Basil Lettuce Wraps (108 RMB) invited us to practice eating with our hands. The enticing smell of basil mixed with exotic spices emanating from the thick stone bowl were assembled in bright crisp lettuce leaves creating delectable little gifts for the taste buds. When the crab dust had settled, there was a complimentary dessert for all diners and the refreshing petite chilled bowl of lemongrass jelly topped with fruit served as the perfect conclusion of our Pulau Ketam experience.
Rm. 1, Bldg. 2-3, Xintiandi South Block, Lane 123 Xingye Lu,