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