The Fat Crab on Marine Drive is well known for their seafood. Especially crab.
The menu at The Fat Crab is almost entirely seafood, as one would expect. But they've got meat options as well, with the addition of the Mongolian barbecue. The seafood options are very extensive with a particular emphasis on the shellfish (y'know, being named The Fat Crab and all). The Mongolian menu is considerably smaller, but they've got cuttlefish, prawn, chicken and beef barbecue as well as fried rice options. They aren't really cheap at around Rs. 1500 - Rs. 2000 per head, but compared to alternatives like Ministry of Crab, this place is easier on the wallet.
We got the crab curry with kade paan (Rs. 1900). This comes with a considerably large crab, a loaf of fresh kade paan (bread), pol sambol and parippu (dhal curry). All in all we were quite happy with the entire fare.
The crab, while not the largest we've come across, had a ton of meat in it and the curry had a great balance of spices. You know you've got the curry right when you're willing to eat just the gravy and bread.
The accompanying dishes were equally satisfying with creamy parippu and a gedara style pol sambol, which we wished there was a bit more of. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of crab because eating it is such a messy affair, but this was worth it.
To test out their Mongolian menu we went with the full selection Mongolian fried rice (Rs. 1495), which comes with chicken, beef, cuttlefish and shrimp. We don't have very many places with good Mongolian cuisine in Colombo, but this tasted brilliant. From the rice, to the meats, to the seasoning, everything was on point.
The long grain fried rice wasn't overly oily, cooked to the point where it's ever so slightly sticky with the flavour of the oyster sauce and sesame oil coming through well. The seafood and meats in the rice were also just right in terms of both flavour and texture. The portion size though, wasn't very large. Enough for one but at Rs. 1500 it has to serve two.
Ambience and Service
They've got a very simple wood structure set up, which works well with the back drop of the ocean. We were here for lunch so there's plenty of natural light and quite a bit of sea breeze, which can be both good and bad, since it'll blow away your napkin quite often unless you tuck it into your pants. Another tasteful touch is the wall of movie posters they've showcased. There isn't much relevance but it's a pretty cool touch.
We had no complaints when it came to the service. The food came to the table faster than we expected. The waiter was friendly and had good knowledge of the menu.
If you're looking for good seafood and crab in Colombo, The Fat Crab is a solid choice. It probably won't be the first place that comes to mind for a Mongolian meal but Genghis BBQ does it as well as anyone we've tried.
Take the advice on the menu and follow their motto, “No fuss – Make a Mess.” Crab cannot be enjoyed if you are pernickety about table manners.
YAMU is a guide to Colombo and Sri Lanka. We review restaurants, bars, shops,
hotels and more. We write our own reviews, take our own photographs and update daily.
We also have an app and
The Fat Crab is an unpretentious seafood bistro that is a valuable addition to the growing restaurant scene along Marine Drive and fills the need for a mid-range crab specialist in Colombo.
The Fat Crab calls itself a seafood bistro. Its menu is not extensive, but is certainly exciting*. Options include some standard fare, but also more unusual appetizers like Fresh Bentota Oysters Shucked with Raspberry Vinegar (Rs 825), soups like Curried Prawn Bisque (Rs 625), mains like Mrs. Flogesteen’s Seafood Pie (Rs 980) and desserts like Grilled fresh Pineapple with Cinnamon & Vodka Ice Cream (Rs 475). These pleasures, we left undiscovered for another day to focus on the reason we had made this pilgrimage in the first place: crab.
Patrons seeking crab have three choices to make: size of crab (three options), preparation method (five options) and accompaniment (three options). The minimum order quantity serves two, and since there were six of us, we decided to share the Sri Lankan Murunga Leaf Crab Curry, Black Pepper Crab and Steaming Crab with dipping sauces, choosing the middle “large” crab option (approximately six inches across). As accompaniments, we chose to be traditional and basic: Crusty Kadé Paan with butter, Pol Sambol, Steamed rice and Dhal.
Along with four cokes and a couple of beers, the bill came to approximately Rs 3350 each. The quantities were enough to satisfy even the most acute of crab cravings.
The quality of the meal was excellent. After the versions at the former Sea Anglers’ Club in Trincomalee and the occasional Sunday lunch with family, this was one of the tastiest and most authentic Murunga Crab Curries we have ever had.
The crab was succulent and tender. Not overdone, the flesh was firm and fresh and the flavours were strong, but not overpowering, balanced well to allow the natural taste of the crab to come through the spices, chili and murunga flavours. The gravy was thick and generously infused with murunga leaves. Soaked up with the crusty bread, the fine two-step dhal and pol sambol, it was absolute heaven. The pepper crab as well, was excellent, and well balanced. The steaming crab option is perhaps for a more subtle palate that is averse to the stronger spice content of the other options. Still, the flesh was perfectly done and the choice of six varied dipping sauces meant you could tailor your taste experience.
Although the address is officially on Haig Road, it is on the corner with Marine Drive, facing the ocean, between Majestic City and Keells Super. It is above Don’s Café and on the same premises as Genghis, the Mongolian wok restaurant, from which menu you can also order.
It is an unassuming wooden structure, with soft lighting, tasteful décor and nice cutlery. It has tats to keep out the rain and is open to the sea breeze, with no fans or air-conditioning. Although at first we were concerned about the lack of fans, we did not find it uncomfortably hot, even in the middle of February. Also, the location is easily accessible and its proximity to the ocean adds to the experience of the seafood.
The service was professional, as can be expected from one of the Don Stanley’s group of restaurants, which this is. There was some minor confusion about appropriate quantities and crab sizes before ordering, but this was sorted out with the waiter without too much of a fuss. A couple of unfinished Cokes were cleared away while some of us were away from the table washing fingers, but again, this was a minor detraction from an otherwise pleasing experience.
While we are on the topic: the hand-washing sink is behind the bar, which is not an ideal location for it. One of our diners desperately wanted to wipe her nose as she had the spice drips, but she didn’t want to cover her face with crab. Easily accessible finger bowls or a dedicated sink would be an improvement.
They were not stingy with the accompaniments. They filled up the dhal bowl three times without hesitation or extra charge, which gets a big thumbs up from us.
I came away from the experience thinking: this place understands their crab. The official launch of the place is this Friday, after which they will extend their menu. Seafood fans should definitely go and explore!
*The management says that after Friday, 19th February, when they have their full launch, the menu will be extended to include more options.