Fatty Crab


: 643 Hudson Street, New York (between Horatio and Gansevort)


Phone: 212-352-3592

To the Malaysians, food is a passion and a way of life. Whenever Malaysians hang out, including those living abroad, we like to congregate at places that have food, and food is usually the topic of discussion. It's also very common for Malaysians to do food tours around the country seeking classic Malaysian dishes such as char kway teow, hokkien mee, satay and yong tau foo from famous food cities such as Penang, Ipoh, KL and Malacca. Street food or hawker food is always where you'll discover the root of the most authentic dishes and is the soul of the Malaysian cuisine.

A small hawker center/kopitiam in KL

Of course, there are many excellent high end restaurants that serves more refine Malaysian food, but we love our hawker food. There's just something about the Asian mentality of being economical in everything we do. You get the best of the varieties in many of the hawker centers, and we love having options. Dad can have his laksa, mum can have her pan mee, and the kids can have their wan tan mee all at the same time. In Malaysia, it's almost impossible to have a BEST OF AWARD for these hawkers, partly because there are too many awesome hawker food around the country at unidentifiable locations (you need locals to guide you there) that it'll takes such a long time to put together a list; and by the time the list is done some of these hawker stalls may have moved or may no longer exist.

Having said that, we think Zak realized the potential of the hawker food culture in New York City and he understands the essence of good Malaysia cooking where everything is made fresh from scratch. That's why his Fatty Crab restaurant business is blooming. It's important to mention though, that Zak's Fatty Crab is not a branch from Taman Megah's Fatty Crab in Malaysia. Fatty Crab Malaysia is a famous food destination for excellent crabs cook in many ways. Zak's interpretation of chili crab is definitely more suited toward the American palate, much sweeter and intense. But we LOVE the fresh oyster omelette at Fatty Crab, best in NYC so far.

It's still weird for us to see non-Malaysians cooking Malaysian food. We feel that Malaysian's palate is quite complex, given our colonial history, influences from the neighboring countries ie Thailand, Indonesia, and with Malaysia being a multi-racial country. But we understand why Zak Pelaccio, who used to work in Seri Melayu restaurant in Kuala Lumpur (KL), fell in love with Malaysian cuisines and decided to open Fatty Crab in New York City. And given that we have gone back to the restaurant twice in recent week after resisting it for 2 years, we have to say Zak is really doing a great job in making Malaysian food and helping us curb our homesickness!

Chili crab sauce and white toast - since it was brunch we decided to go cheap and order the crab chili sauce and toast instead. It'd be $40 if we order the crab.

Fatty Tea Sandwiches with pork belly and sambal aioli - I just went there again last night to have some tea sandwiches. This sandwiches reminded me of the sambal sandwiches my mom used to make for tea time - part of the British colonial trait.

Green Mango with Chili-Sugar-Salt - wished there were more mangos! 4 pieces is not enough!

Singaporean Nasi Lemak with chicken wing, egg, sambal - Nasi lemak at Fatty Crab is not bad, not as traditional but still ok. Could use more coconut milk in the rice, but the sambal belachan is decent.

Market Oyster Omelet Ashraf - this dish was our favorite. We think it's the best "oh chien" or oyster omelette in NYC! Just one request if you are reading this Zak Pelaccio, can you please add assam laksa and curry laksa back to the menu even though it's not yet winter??

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Vendy Award Winning Vendors @ Governors Island

It's amazing that Gan and I have never been to Governors Island, an old military base just 800 yard away from Lower Manhattan. The island is a popular place for picnic, biking, kayaking etc but we went there this past Saturday because we heard from Nan that the Vendy Award winning vendors are selling food on the island. It was a long wait to get on the ferry, but the ride to the island was probably less than five minutes.

We intended to try almost every food vendors on the island. But after two Arepas (bread made of corn), oxtail, shrimp curry and jerk chicken later, we found ourselves stuffed and couldn't eat anymore. But we really like the Arepa de Queso and Arepa de Choclo from the Arepa Lady. I have to drop by her stall the next time I'm in Queens (Roosevelt Ave. near. 78th St)!

And guess who we saw at the event? Robyn Lee aka Roboppy of Serious Eats! Check out her posting here.

Veronica's Kitchen - service was very slow

(Left) Curry shrimp with potato salad and collard greens. (Right) Oxtail with mixed vegetables and white rice

At the park

Vendy Award winner Arepa Lady

Arepa de Queso - cheese arepa

Arepa de choclo - made with sweet corn and farmer's white cheese

another street vendor which we didn't get to try

view of lower Manhattan from the island

Restaurant Week Part 1 --- The Modern at Bar Room


The Museum of Modern Art, 9 West 53rd Street


Phone: 212-333-1220

Restaurant week has become a ritual for both of us as the best week to line up reviews for the blog. It had led us to discovery of many of our favorites which we've frequented often after the restaurant week. The madness started with me going through the list of participating restaurants, picking the ones I'm interested in, working on the schedule, making reservations with usually 2-4 additional seatings besides the yaokuis, and sending out invites to our unofficial yaokui club members. Who ever says eating well or food blogging is easy, I beg to differ. :-P

This was the second time we ate at The Modern at Bar Room during restaurant week. Strangely, we have eaten at the bar room four times, but we have yet to try the dining room. Perhaps it's good enough for us in the bar room, that's why we never see the point of paying more money at the dining room.We thought the Modern at Bar Room's restaurant week menu is one of the most generous in the line up of all participating restaurants. Most of the dishes on the regular menus are kept on the restaurant week menu, except for the lobster in a jar, which is my favorite dish there.

As usual, the kitchen sent out good quality food, with Upside Down Tuna Tart, Tomato and Almond Gazpacho (I'm addicted to this soup) and Buttermilk Panna Cotta dessert being the crowd pleasers. Unfortunately, one of my favorite dish at the Modern Bar Room - the beer braised pork belly was not prepared well; It was overcooked, a little dry and the skin was slightly burned. I also thought the fresh grilled shrimp was boring and should be taken off the restaurant's menu all together.

But I really shouldn't complain much; there were five of us, and we ordered dishes for six people and the bill was still below $70 per person (regular menu would usually cost less than $90 per person), including wine (another great thing about restaurant week here is the wines list below $40). Definitely much cheaper and better value than some other restaurants. We had dinner at Nippon restaurant the night before and ended paying way more than this.

Warm Lamb and Goat Cheese Terrine with toasted Pistachios and Watercress

Upside Down Tuna Tart with Fennel, Japanese Cucumber and Aioli

Tomato and Almond Gazpacho with Cucumber, Teardrop Tomatoes and Basil Oil

Grilled Yellowfin Tuna with Crispy Veal Sweetbreads and Preserved Lemon

Hazelnut Dacquoise with Milk Chocolate Chantilly

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Strawberry Sorbet

Sorbet, three flavors

Caramel and White Chocolate Trifle with Apricot Gelee

Nasi Lemak


If you are lucky enough to have visited Malaysia and have eaten our unofficial national dish -- Nasi Lemak, you will understand why we love this dish so much. Nasi Lemak is actually coconut rice served with different varieties of toppings such as rendang chicken, cucumber, sambal shrimp, sambal sotong (squid), peanuts, fried anchovies, boiled eggs, kangkung etc. Different nasi lemak sellers have different varieties of toppings but it comes standard with peanuts, boiled egg, fried anchovies, sambal and kangkung. It's my breakfast, my lunch, and heck I can even eat it for dinner when I am back in Malaysia. It's my ultimate comfort food!

In New York, the best nasi lemak is prepared by Kak Liza, who also cater for the Malaysian Consulate here in Midtown New York (our friend Chef Nick's nasi lemak is legendary too, but we have yet to try! :) Recently, our friend Wee Ming served us nasi lemak he ordered from Kak Liza at his housewarming and we were all in cloud nine! I'm hoping that Kak Liza or someone would open a nasi lemak restaurant here in New York City one day! and soon!

rendang chicken (with coconut milk)

sambal shrimp

sambal sotong

Per Se


: Ten Columbus Circle, New York


Phone: 212-823-9335

The Per Se "blue door" entrance, modeled after French Laundry's.
Is this restaurant a replica of the French Laundry or is it worthy of its own accolades?

Celebrating birthdays with fine dining is customary to a lot of people. As Sarah's birthday approaches this year, it was very clear to me that there would only be one restaurant in America that can satisfy the food blogger. It has to be the best in America.

Chef Thomas Keller's journey from NYC to California to launch the American culinary institution that is French Laundry has been etched as one of the most significant juncture in the annals of food history. What he has achieved out in the wine country has elevated America into a world class destination for food connoisseurs. That's why it's amazing that he would risk so much and come back to NYC to embark on Per Se. One of the main reasons for the success of Per Se is its Chef de Cuisine, Jonathan Benno. At the time of our dinner at Per Se, the food blogosphere were abuzzed with the rumors (and subsequent confirmation) of Jonathan Benno's pending departure from Per Se. It's just one more reason for us to make a visit to this highly touted restaurant.

My first impression of the restaurant was that it's much more formal than I thought, in terms of service and decor. Not French classical formality as Taillevent in Paris, but more formal than Le Bernardin and most of the restaurants in New York City, with a modern touch. On arrival, we were ushered into a booth in the lounge and were offered aperitifs, a very nice glass of champagne. The decor is urban modern and minimalistic with clean lines, appropriately set with the beautiful south Central Park West as the backdrop. But I'm glad that the formality did not come with any stuffiness and arrogance. Our waiter Jim was friendly and professional, he made us feel comfortable and was very attentive to our every need including offering to provide his own nice personal pen and a scratch pad for us to write down our thoughts for the night.

Joyeux Anniversaire, mon amour

We went with the Chef Tasting menu, which covers 11 courses of dishes, including desserts. The other was the Tasting of Vegetables menu. We have not been to French Laundry, so every dish on the menu was new to us. We thoroughly enjoyed all the dishes on the chef menu, but one in particular was a huge disappointment, the French Onion Soup. We thought the soup was extremely salty and overly concentrated. A mere blemish to otherwise, an excellent progression of a very well executed dinner.

Our favorite dish on the menu turned out to be Grilled Pave of Spanish Mackerel; the perfectly grilled fish left us with a wonderful "heat-burnt" after taste that kept us wanting more. It was easily the best dish we've had that night, a good balance of the fatty spanish mackerel fish oil, and the very savory medley of spring vegetables. Surprisingly, the grilled fish also reminded us of the amazing dishes we had at Asador Etxebarri. Their signature (an import from French Laundry) Oysters and Pearls is luxurious and decadent, the salad of mushrooms was earthy and appetizing and the foie gras, classic and done elegantly. We also thought the Epaule de Lapin, meat ball on fork with rabbit jus highlighted their multi-dimensional talent in cooking not just seafood but meat as well. There had been many highly rated restaurants that had impressed us on seafood but disappointed us in the meat dishes. Per Se had certainly deserved kudos for being able to continue to impress us with this slightly more gamey meat. The Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster was so succulent and poached superbly. Couldn't have asked for a better cooked lobster than the one we ate here.

I was so obsessed with this soft roll that I had to request for a few more after the first bite
Crispy on the outside, soft and piping hot on the inside
with 2 types of butter: california sweet butter and salted

Amuse bouche - Sweet Onion Cornash with Salmon and Creme Fraise

OYSTERS AND PEARLS - "Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Sterling White Sturgeon
Aromatic with nice smooth creamy texture. Luxurious!

SALAD OF MARINATED FOREST MUSHROOMS - Hadley Orchards' Medjool Dates, French Breakfast Radishes, Snow Peas and Pea Tendrils
Refreshing. Texture of different mushrooms was playful to the mouth.

SAUTEED HUDSON VALLEY MOULARD DUCK FOIE GRAS - Whole Grain Mustard "Pain Perdu," Hakurei Turnips, Yellow Nectarines and Mustard Cress with Duck Jus.
Perfectly crisp on the outside and moist on the inside

GRILLED "PAVE" OF SPANISH MACKEREL - Braised Sunchokes, Global Artichokes and Rainbow Swiss Chard with Manzanilla Sherry "Ravigote"
PERFECT! The vegetables complemented the perfectly grilled Spanish Mackerel. One of the most appetizing and delicious fish dish ever. YUMMY!

BUTTER POACHED NOVA SCOTIA LOBSTER - Confit of Marble Potatoes and Celery Root "Remoulade" with "Jus de Truffle de la Saint-Jean"
We were still salivating after finish eating this. Very juicy. The celery root was intensely flavored and had a nice crunchy texture

24 CARROT FARM's "EPAULE DE LAPIN" - Romano Beans, Pickled Holland Peppers and Green Tomatoes with Rabbit Jus
Now you see it. Now you don't. There's a certain Asian spiced flavor to it that made it familiar. The strong, sticky, flavorful rabbit jus sauce was an equal to the strong gamey rabbit meat. Chef Keller used an antique French utensil-handle. It's a more refine way to eat a meat drumstick using your fingers. 24 Carrot/Carat - Cute

ELYSIAN FIELDS FARM'S "CARRE D'AGNEAU ROTI ENTIER" - Slow Baked Beets, Compressed Aian Pear and Watercress Leaves with "Sauce au Poivre"
A feminine dish. Colorful and pretty in the presentation. Coarse salt used brings out the flavor. Another well executed meat dish. Not an easy feat to be good in both seafood and meat dishes all together.

"FRENCH ONION SOUP" -- "Comte Fort des Rousses" "Soupe a l'Oignon et Crouton de Brioche Grille
One word - dissapointment. Luckily, this was pretty much the only one for the night.

BLUEBERRY SORBET - Blueberry "Flapjack" with Madagascar Vanilla Fudge and Blueberry Crisp
All blueberry through and thru :-)

Amuse Bouche Float - champagne ice with layers of moose, praline crumble, jelly

Coffee and doughut/beignet

"TORTA DI CILIEGIE E NOCCIOLE" - Piedmont Hazelnut "Praline," Compressed Brooks Cherries, Hazelnut "Financier" and Cherry Reduction with Yogurt-Tarragon Sherbet

"MUD PIE" - Dark Chocolate Mud Cake, Liquid Caramel, Chocolate "Cremeux" and Caramel Parfait with Sassafras Ice Cream

Petit Four - truffles
We also received a "gift bag" with truffles and granola bars. The truffles were as good as Kee's Chocolate's and the granola bars were as good as any we've had. They were determined to remind you even after you leave the restaurant on how much they put an effort into their food, down to the last detail of every product leaving the kitchen

The best part about eating at Per Se that night, aside from its world class food, was definitely our visit to the restaurant's world class kitchen, which was aptly nicknamed The Gold Vault. Our dinner ended late at 1am, so most of the staffs have left the restaurant, with only a handful of people doing some cleaning ups and prepping for the next day. We had visited some famous kitchens in the world, but we had never seen a kitchen as well equipped and enormous like Per Se's! We were told the size of the kitchen equally matched the size of the dining room. I bet it's every chef's dream to be working in a kitchen like the one there.
Ever felt overwhelmed by the gluttony of glossary for the different kitchen personnel in a restaurant, especially one like Per Se? There's an excellent article "Understanding Per Se's Kitchen" on NYMag's Grub Street which would show you running a kitchen is not much different than running a well run Fortune 500 company. Clear lines of authority and responsibility as well as management of staffs, along with the fancy French sounding titles: Chef Patron, Chef de Cuisine, Executive Sous-Chef , Saucier, and Garde-Manger.

The Gold Vault

Live television feed from French Laundry Extension of the kitchen for Chef Keller's empire

Will the real yaokuis, please stand up?

Chefs discussing tomorrow's menu at 1am in the morning

Special kitchen section for soup/sauce preparation
Mark of a true French kitchen

Restaurant's Motto "SENSE OF URGENCY" @ 12:20am

In house Chocalatier

Bakery department for Bouchon Bakery

From the moment we stepped through the blue door til the moment we exit, and even now while I'm writing this review, it is hard not to be impressed by the refinement and detailed execution of everything that is associated with Per Se. I don't know if this can ever be possibly attributed to a single entity, a legendary chef like Thomas Keller or an enigmatic and up-and-coming bright chef like Jonathan Benno. This is a collective effort from the entire staff. It's a philosophy, of collaboration and of cultivating a culture of learning and passion. The end result may sometimes not be well received but in the end, as food lovers, we truly appreciate and recognize the risks taken in the makings of a great restaurant. Per Se is a must try, a once in a lifetime opportunity, despite its exorbitant cost.

Sarah, Happy Birthday and I hope that you had a happy meal that night, as much as I had.
Here's wishing for more great food adventure to come in the many years we have together ahead of us

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