Cititour Review: Chowing Down at Fatty Crab. Chef Zak Pelaccio and his partner from Five Ninth, Rick Camac, have opened a snug and funky wood-cloaked joint that is an ode to the food Zak learned to cook (and to love) while cooking at Seri Melayu, an authentic restaurant in the center of the Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia (he was the first Westerner to work there). Fatty Crab is for a place he used to frequent on his days off, a joint he adored for their saucy chicken wings and fiery chili crab. He’s opened his own version of Fatty Crab here on Hudson Street, which I had a chance to check out last week with my friend Steven, and I thought it was just smashing. We started with some pickled vegetables ($4), got our hands dirty with some Jalan Alor Chicken Wings ($9)—giant meaty wings smothered in a sweet sticky barbecue sauce—scarfed down a chewy charred squid salad on a bed of fresh and pungent pickled sprouts and vegetables ($12), split a puffy alabaster steamed pork bun ($5), then moved onto a bowl of Wonton Mee ($10)—a deep dish of pork and shrimp wontons in a high heat curry broth with noodles, and then tucked into a seriously life-altering dish called Nasi Lemak ($10)—the most buttery soft and sensual piece of chicken I have ever eaten in my life (try it and you will understand what I am talking about). The chicken is poached for hours, I imagine in some sort of pork fat, so it becomes like the cashmere of poultry. It is served with coconut rice, in a relatively calm curry sauce topped a gorgeous runny poached egg. It was my favorite dish on the menu. Steven was way into the signature Chili Crab ($22), a pot of blue crabs hacked in half, served simmering in an off the charts chile sauce that will set fire to your lips and make your eyes tear with joy. I had no patience to crack the crabs, then suck and tug all that meat out, but Steven had a blast. I just dipped the white toast into the sauce and smiled as beads of sweat formed on my brow. After they cleared our table, I did feel as though I needed to be hosed down, but I was not about to skip dessert and neither should you. The Sweet Roti—a fried roti pancake wrapped around sweetened condensed milk ($8) may put you into a diabetic coma, but it’s worth it. You should also try the Ice Kachang ($6), the Malaysian version of a snow cone: shaved ice doused in palm sugar syrup topped with nuts and assorted Malaysian jellies. You may have to order two of each. Let me say just this about Fatty Crab: this is food on adrenaline. The flavors are full speed ahead—hot, spicy, pungent, tangy, and brilliant. This grub is great, but it ain’t for pansies. This is authentic Malaysian food and it is not toned down for a New York sensibility. Well-coifed metrosexuals and the women who fight with them over their antioxidant moisturizers and organic hair gel be warned: this is really messy, really good food that requires a sense of adventure and that will result in you having the most divine chile sauce all over your face, fingers, hair and any other body part that happens to get in the way. Don’t come here if you are delicate. You might break. I have this vision of hordes of glossy-lipped Meatpacking regulars running from here over to Pastis after trying to get through the bowl of whole blue crabs in that fire-breathing chile sauce. Take it from me—I left hot, sweaty, and deliriously happy, but in need of a shower from the shameless almost tantric heat coming off of the food. I loved it. Just be prepared to get your hands dirty.
Review By: Andrea Strong
Neighborhood: Meatpacking District
643 Hudson Street
New York, NY
Entree Price: $10-15