The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Monday, 18 July 2011

Big Family Dinner @ Harry's Singapore Chilli Crab, Sydney

What do you do with a family who gathers in one place for the first time in years? Have a large banquet, of course! As anyone with a Chinese background or knowledge would tell you, no reunion is complete until the family shares in a large banquet-style meal. The Japanese dinner we had to celebrate my mum's 60th was delicious, but taking a dainty piece of sushi, sashimi or tempura to your plate isn't quite the same as tucking in messily to several large dishes of Chinese-style food. One of my Sydneysider sisters suggested Harry's Singapore Chilli Crab, and this was where our big family group went for our final dinner together before my little family flew to Brisbane the following morning.

Large live mud crabs greet customers near the upstairs entrance. Hand courtesy of brother, who was glad to provide a scale reference:

The restaurant looks like any other Chinese restaurants, except with a more tacky outdated decor. Service was good enough - there are certainly other Chinese restaurants around with worse service (but I can ignore bad service if the food is good enough). Harry's seems like a popular place for corporate dinners, and there was a large group of collar-shirted men feasting on chili crabs when we arrived for dinner. The scene was slightly amusing because these men had donned the disposable apron that the restaurant provides to protect clothing from the messy affair of eating chilli crab. Don't get me wrong - I myself would rather risk looking ridiculous than staining an expensive top that requires expensive dry cleaning. Note that this is not a cheap restaurant. Let's just say that the dinner bill would be a better fit for a corporate's pocket than the average Joe. With that said, you do get what you pay for; we would all have felt ripped-off otherwise. The 2kg mud crabs cost about AU$120 each, and we'd ordered three - but you should've heard the silence that fell upon the table when everyone dug into the crabs with the busy-eating-can't-talk mode on. It's hard - and messy - work cracking shells, extracting the flesh and then finally savouring the crabmeat. The non-crab menu is also quite expensive, so unless you have your heart set on chilli crab, you'd be better off at one of the many Chinese restaurants in Chinatown.

Singapore Roti, which was supposed to be eaten with the chilli crab sauce, but it had been brought out at least 10 minutes before the crab dishes showed up:

Sambal Kangkung - my favourite green leafy veg, but talk about overpriced! This plate was almost AU$16!

Harry's Black Pepper Beef. Tender and tasty with salty black beans:

Dining at a Chinese restaurant with my brother anywhere will ensure that Peking Spare Ribs will be on the table. Actually, I think this dish is a family favourite because the sisters and hubby have ordered this dish without my brother around:

A decent version of Char Kuey Teow, but overpriced:

Crispy Chicken - not too dissimilar to salt-and-pepper squid. Son loved it (obviously after I checked that it didn't contain any of the ingredients he's allergic to):

Finally came the three large plates of Harry's Singapore Chilli Crab. I can't lie - these were good! Even the sauce was finger-licking good:

The table after all the food had arrived. Apologies for the skewy shot - I was very eager to get back to eating! My mum suggested I take an "after" shot too, which I did, but empty dirty plates aren't very great-looking, so it's not going up on my blog.

Hubby got one of the large claws, which he enjoyed very much!

That was a feast. An expensive one, but a satisfying one.

Harry's Singapore Chilli Crab
Level 1, 198 Elizabeth Street
Sydney NSW 2010
Tel. +61 2 9281 5565

Harry's Singapore Chilli Crab on Urbanspoon

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