Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Crab Affair

The time was 11.55a.m, another 5 minutes before "A Crab Affair" Buffet officially started and there was already a queue of about 50 people at the Ellenborough Market Cafe at Swissotel Merchant Court. I had made a reservation earlier during the week as this seemed to be a very popular buffet. I had read about the various crab dishes and was looking forward to some good Sri Lankan chilli crabs and fried mantou.

Once we were led to table, we went to check out the spread. It appeared that many diners knew their way and the queue for the star dish- chilli crab, big prawns & steam fish was long. I decided to go where there's no queue. I felt kinda silly returning to my table with just a few slices of salmon and a saucer with wasabi and soya sauce. I saw the elderly couple next to us with a full plate of chilli crabs each. Yes, each of them took a plate of chilli crab that was piled up high.

Fortunately, Jerome managed to get us both some crabs, but there was no fried mantou... These are just common mud crabs that Jerome said cost less than $5 at Sheng Siong for a live one, not the big Sri Lankan crabs we were expecting. So it was kinda disappointing.

Anyway, as we were enjoying the crabs, we couldn't help but observe the diners nearby.  If we thought the elderly couple were 'amazing' with their plates full of crab, we saw that they were not the only ones nor the worst. 2 tables away, a woman who looked to be in her 30s was with her mother who seemed to be in her sixties were 'incredible'. They had 5 plates heaped high with crabs! This is really a typical kiasu Singaporean, the ugly Singaporean's doing.

If you put a full plate of crabs in front of me, I would wonder if I could finish them. If you place 2 full plates of crabs in front of me, I think I'll lose my appetite. But these 2 women managed to get 5 full plates laid out on their table even before they started their 'feast'. Can they finish everything? Jerome was saying it's better better to get warm food when you want more later which made sense.

Anyway, the queue was perpetually long for the chilli crab and I don't believe in paying so much and still have to queue. The crab was not fantastic anyway so I took other food which was really quite limited. There was roti prata station which I didn't queue up for. I have tasted the best prata at Marsiling so no prata here. So I had half a bowl of their famous durian pengat, but nothing beats the real thing. I had a few pieces of kuehs, a scoop of ice-cream, a few pieces of cakes and a few slices of fruits and that was it. No more crabs as the queue was just too long and they're not fantastic to warrant effort in queuing.

From where we were sitting, we could see that the tray for chilli crabs were often empty. Hmm... And we get to observe some undesirable behaviours, like people digging all around the dish, looking for certain parts, especially the claws. When Jerome got the crabs earlier now,  a woman in front of him had a plate full of crab claws. She turned to her son behind her and said, "Hurry! Take the claws. The claws are finishing!" ... speechless...

At around 1pm, I overheard the lady sitting next to us telling her boyfriend, "Can you believe it? They ran out of crabs! Some customers are angry and demand to speak to the manager." I'm surprised to hear that, I could understand why the customers were upset. If you paid good money for a crab buffet, you expect to get what you paid for. But then because of some inconsiderate kiasu diners, who piled their plates full of crabs, leaving little for diners behind. Remember the 2 ladies with the 5 plates of crabs?

I bet they couldn't finish the crabs. By the time they finished their 3rd plate, they didn't seem to be enjoying the crabs anymore. But still, the younger lady went to get more food! She returned with a bowl heaped high with the durian pengat, easily thrice the amount that I've taken earlier on, among other food. Incredible! Suddenly, the durian pengat doesn't look that appealing anymore, reminding me of something else in the toilet. Really, all things in moderation. When you have too much of a good thing, it actually become not so fantastic afterall. But I guess when you come to a buffet, sometimes it brings out the ugly sides of some people.

I overheard (seemed like I was ease-dropping on others' conversations all the time... maybe we 're just sitting too close) the elderly couple sitting next to us saying that the crab buffet this year was worse than last year. Hmm... so they had been here before.

I guess if there are many dinners who pile their plates high with crabs, the hotel can't afford to provide the quality. They can only provide the quantity to cater to the hungry ghosts. So they've replace the Sri Lankan crabs with the common mud crabs.

Indeed at 54++, we were presented with common mud crabs, flower crabs, prawns, clayfish, fish (we didn't even get to eat any prawns or clayfish or steamed fish), some local desserts, 2 flavours of ice-cream, ice-water, tropical fruits, salad and ice water. Hey, and there was no mantou. But there was white rice though. I never understood people who took white rice during buffets.

Basically the Crab affair is just mud crabs and flower crabs cooked in different ways. At the end of it all, Jerome and I managed to eat 1 mud crab and 2 flower crabs. We didn't expect it to be such a 'crappy' meal. Well, let's just say this was our first time and last time there.

This was the plate of crabs that I shared with Jerome...

This was a plate full of crabs seen on another neighbouring table...
This was the 1st of the 5 plates that the 2 ladies had- 1 in her 30s, the other in her 60s.


  1. I would love for Singaporeans to be more gracious ... sigh.
    My pet peeve is that many do not hold the lifts for others. Is it coz they are afraid of the germs that are on the buttons??? I always hold the lift for others and i usually don't get any thanks or acknowledging nods. It's disappointing.
    The second pet peeve is ungracious drivers. Thus far, with about 7 years driving experience, I've had less than 10 drivers say 'thank you' when I let them into my lane. I've had more drivers sped up as I try to change lanes though :(
    I do hope one day, that all of us really practise what our teachers at school preach ... 'Be gracious... say thank you'. Simple as that :)

  2. Hazel, You're right, I know what you mean.
    Many people are just not gracious and are downright inconsiderate. Sometimes, I wonder if they have any common sense. Whenever I take the train, It's common to see commuters standing right in front of the train doors, rushing in to get a seat, blocking the ways of alighting passengers. There was once a middle-age lady and her 2 young children, were standing right smack in the middle, blocking the entire exit. I gave her a glare but she was too busy loudly into her mobile phone. Isn't it common sense to let alight passengers alight first before boarding?


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