Mud crabs which are found in the estuaries and mangroves of Africa, Australia and Asia, are often sought after as a seafood delicacy, mostly in the South Asian countries. They can grow up to a few kilograms with lots of meat to savor. With a large crab sanctuary through its mangrove reserves especially in the east Malaysia, Pang (Hainan) Restaurant had decided to import such mud crab for the huge appetite of the Penangites on top of other seafood such as the grouper, mantis prawns, lobsters and so on. Presently, the mud crabs available in this restaurant are priced at RM58/kilo with a minimum order of two crabs (approximately 1.2 kilograms) with a choice of 6 flavors such as Baked Crab, Sweet & Sour Crab, Black Pepper Crab, Steamed Crab, Chili Crab and their latest addition of Kam Heong Crab.
We took the opportunity to try out 3 of the 6 options. The first was the Black Pepper Crab. The crabs were stir fried with a generous amount of black pepper, onions, capsicum and curry leaves. Although the crabs were fresh, the taste was somehow overpowered by the over usage of sliced onions and capsicum which subdued the spiciness from the black pepper. Thus, it lacked the required fragrance to pep up the overall taste of the crabs. Sometimes, I do think that simplicity such as the usage of just some plain butter, curry leaves and black pepper would do more justice to a more flavorful bite.
The Sweet & Sour Crab on the other hand was more flavorful compared to the former except that it had that strong and sweet chili sauce after taste. The restaurant again tried to create their own recipe by implementing lots of sliced onions with some traces of bird eye chilies (cili padi), stir fried with some beaten eggs. It was basically quite dry without much gravy. Moreover, the gravy lacked a slight sprinkle of vinegar for those wonderful sweet and sour flavors to boost up the appetite.
The next version was the Kam Heong Crab. The name itself spelled out that the dish should be spicy and fragrant. Although the traces of sliced onions had reduced substantially, the usage of curry leaves and traceable dried shrimps somehow did not provide that flavorful “kick”. One reason could be that the dried shrimps they were using were rather big and thus did not omit that fragrance as required. The next reason was that the dish was not sautéed dry enough to get the flavorful “wok hei” (high heat cooking).
You can also order some Mantou (80sen each) to dip in the gravy. They would normally come deep fried to have that crisp on the surface with a soft bun-like texture within.
Other than just crabs, there are other side seafood dishes that you can order here. One of the dishes would be the Assam Prawns (RM11/100gms – 5 prawns ~ 200gms). I wonder if that was the intention of the restaurant to serve the prawns as a whole without slitting the back for the flavors to seep right into the flesh. Somehow, the usage of tamarind plus some sugar and salt did not marinate the prawns at all. The flesh was rather bland in taste. Moreover, the prawns were not fried as dry and tasty as the Nyonya Assam Prawns.
You can also order some Deep Fried Squids (RM11/RM17/RM25). This was a lovely dish, considering that every single cut were evenly covered with batter and maintained that crispiness. The only thing I would prefer would be the slight touch of spiciness from either turmeric powder or chili flakes to pep up the flavor.
It does not mean that you would need to have just seafood as your meal as there are also rice, noodles and porridge dishes for you to order. We tried out the Fried Rice (RM9/RM14/RM19). Well, it was just normal without the “wok hei” I preferred but with lots of small prawns and chicken cubes in it.
Overall, the seafood dishes served here are no doubt fresh but the firmness of the crab meat would depend on the season. As for taste wise, the restaurant has their own recipe with a touch of fusion which might not be the traditional way of preparation as per your preferences. Anyway, the whole meal was still a hearty one for the few of us, considering that everything served was super fresh.
Drive all the way up to Tanjung Bungah. Immediately after the curve at the UDA flat traffic lights, keep to your left. Drive on until you see Viva Café then Chinese Swimming Club on your right, slow down and watch out for the Pang Seafood neon signboard on your left right after the Thong Sin Building.
Name: PANG (HAINAN) SEAFOOD
Address: 501-K&L, Jalan Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-899 4863, 017-452 4863
Business Hours: 11.30am-2.30pm, 6.00pm-10.00pm
GPS: 5.462728, 100.303191
Ambience: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 7.5/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 7/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)