Step into the dim dining room and find yourself awash with the smells of aioli and chili. Witness eager diners sitting in front of heaping plates of pork shoulder, pickled radish, fish sauces, bowls brimming with succulent crab legs. Fatty Crab, a favorite for adventurous West Siders still holds the attention of diners and critics alike, commanding notice for its irresistible flavor, and an undying inventiveness.
The food is Malaysian, with riotous abandon. Liberties are taken, incorporating flavors from across South East Asia. A cocktail bar greets you, behind which you can find exotic flavors from toasted cardamom to crème de violette. The Lower West is a perfect refresher in the hot summer, topped with ginger beer and lemon. The Fatty Manhattan is not to be underestimated, enlivened with a smoky cherry coke.
When you order, you are forewarned; dishes are to be shared and arrive as ready, without sequence. The kitchen staff is omnicompetent, managing to fit our order to a smorgasbord of preferences. On a more recent foray, our order was a complete surrender to the desires our appetites, starting with a fried okra amuse bouche amplified by a shot of cool PBR. Quail egg shooters were next, lined up by variety of sambal. They make a steamed bun that folds a succulent offering of pork, “fatty” being the operative word here. A watermelon pickle rests on a succulent cube of pork belly, unmistakable for its inventive presentation, and packing a flavor punch of fresh ginger.
The crab is a feast of flavor, drenched in a chili sauce that is heavy on the butter and certifiably addictive. Far from civilized, we found ourselves absorbed in a gluttonous feast of the hefty legs, cleaning them of their tender meat. A nod to the Fatty Crew in the open kitchen to let them know, we would be back for more. Makan, Makan, Makan!