Steve and I celebrated our friend Jerome's birthday, with 8 of us meeting up at Fatty Crab last night. On the whole, the meal was great, but I was a little put off by the price to portion ratio.
Pork belly and pickled watermelon, very good-- loved the bite of the watermelon after the fat-- but $15 for 4 pieces of pork belly and some watermelon? I was at the Union Square farmers market yesterday and saw a belly for $17. While I understand paying a premium for both, that's damn expensive for what was so cheap only recently (I guess pork belly has jumped the shark, unless you buy it for $4 a pound in C-town). We had to order 2 of these so everyone could get a piece.
Pork buns: Also very good, nice big chunk of belly with a spicy sweet sauce. At 11 bucks for 2 (making Baohaus look like a deal), we had to get 4 orders.
Chicken wings: 3 unsplit wings apiece. Nice, with strong Indian flavors that I can't exactly pinpoint because I was pretty drunk at this point.
Fatty Duck: crispy and rich, but a half duck for $17 in which we each only get a bite is kind of shitty in my opinion.
Chicken Claypot, which was also kind of small (but the cheapest entree at $14). There were only a couple pieces of tofu and some sauce left by the time it got to me (but I probably made up for it by eating more of other dishes).
Beef shortrib rendang ($25) was fantastic. I loved the coconut flavor, and a fairly large portion (but short ribs, like pork belly is also so popular that it's no longer a value cut).
Instead of getting the fatty crab itself, our waiter recommended getting a couple orders of toast with the crab gravy. This was awesome, and we ordered extra toast to finish all the gravy. Not sure how much they charged us for this (or if they charged us for the extra toast).
We also got 3 rounds of the recession special, which was one of the better deals in the restaurant: a pickleback and a tall boy PBR for $10. However, they ran out of pickle juice for the second round, but mysteriously found pickle juice reserves for the third.
On the whole a very good meal, but we were rushed the whole time because we were taking up so many seats. All the food came out quickly, and we ate in around an hour. We ordered our last round of recession specials as we were finishing our meal. They brought us our bill really quickly and the host and our waiter were eyeing our table and we felt obligated to chug our pbr's.
The bill worked out to $80 a person ($50 without drinks). The obvious comparison (though some will certainly disagree) is Momofuku. For the fried chicken dinner at Noodle Bar with 7 people, it worked out to $40 a person with drinks and lots of other add-ons (pork buns, tamales, dessert). Much more food as well. At Ssam bar I've eat through pretty much the whole menu, with drinks for $60 a person (3 of us).
What does this mean? Overall the food was great, refreshingly spicy and hot, but the price/value means I probably won't be going back for awhile (I do want to check out Fatty 'Cue though). It also means that I need to try some of the more authentic Malaysian restaurants in the city (especially Laut, which is right near my office but I keep putting off). In any case, those dining at Fatty Crab are likely to have a great, flavorful meal in a hopping setting, but will inevitably leave feeling slightly burned and hustled. And isn't that what New York City is all about?
643 Hudson Street