Friday, December 02, 2016

pop up/asia best 50: MINISTRY OF CRAB POP UP AT REGENT TAIPEI 12/1-12/4

SRI LANKA IS EIGHT HOURS AWAY FROM TAIPEI, BY PLANE. It's a small island on the south side of India, which I didn't know until I looked it up yesterday. Thank goodness for Google. 

Why was I looking up Sri Lanka? Because I was charmed by the enthusiasm, backstory and food of half Japanese, half Sri Lankan chef Dharshan Munidasa, who has two restaurants ranked on Asia's Best 50. He cooked up a storm while a student at John Hopkins, with skills learned from his Japanese mom, and returned to Sri Lanka when his father passed away before graduating from college. Chef Munidasa brought his spices, woks, team and huge crabs from Sri Lanka to Taipei, to do a four day pop up at Regent Taipei from 12/1-12/4.  

From the moment I sat down and saw a bib with a motto to live by "Keep Calm and Crab On," I knew we were going to have a good meal and get our hands dirty. 

The set menu for two is NT$4800 or you could get 1-1.5 kg (2-3.5 pounds) crabs a la carte for NT$2580 or NT$4280, depending on weight. 

The tasting started off with a glass of Small Island Ice Tea, inspired by Long Island Ice Tea, with Sri Lankan tea and arrack, which is a coconut flower liquor. It's sweet accompaniment to the stronger flavors on the plate. 

Chili crab and pepper crabs might have been popularized by Singapore using exported Sri Lankan crabs, but Ministry of Crab is the first Sri Lankan restraurant "dedicated to serving the best crabs in their country." They are a "no freeze" restaurant so their seafood isn't frozen, and the crabs at the pop up are also live (up untl they are cooked.) Ofher dishes include OMG prawns and #crabzilla which are crabs over 2kg. Diners can opt for pepper crab (made with crushed Sri Lankan peppers), curry, garlic or garlic chili crab.

The OMG prawns were also delicious and slightly less work to eat. The head was the size of a lobster, which seemed oversized to the shrimpy body.

Jockeying for a shot among all the Taiwan news cameras and reporters. 😁😁 

Luckily several crabs came to the table, so it wasn't too awkward to duke it out for crab. The claws were almost as big as my fist and definitely more satisfying (for meat) than hairy crab, which is tiny in comparison. The black pepper crab wasn't overwhelming and a lot of the sauce came off when you take off the shell. The meat was sweet and I liked both the pepper and garlic flavors I tried. If you don't get the set, I would recommend the OMG prawn over the Curry Tiger Prawns which were slightly over cooked and a tad dried out. Otherwise just get a bunch of crab loving friends and share different flavors of crab. Thanks Regent Taipei for the invitation to the media event and lunch! 

Ministry of Crab's pop up is from 12/1-12/4 at Silk Place, on the 3rd floor in the Regent Taipei Hotel. Reservations recommended (02) 2521-5000

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