May’s mention of a delightful crab bee hoon soup served in the same neighbourhood not far from Uncle Leong Seafood in Toa Payoh Estate when we last ate there has left me craving for more crabs. So last Wednesday, I decided to text May and Ross to see if they were interested in making a trip there…
Upon arrival around 7.30pm, Mellben Seafood was full house (in fact, they are full house come dinner time nightly)! We “pre-ordered” our food with one of the staff and then loitered around the open ground of the HDB (public housing area) until a table for 3 was available. The wait was not too long, about 15 minutes before we were ushered into the corner of the kopitiam-style restaurant.
After another 15 minutes’ wait, our first dish, stir-fried broccoli with garlic, came. The vegetable was stir-fried with oyster sauce and I was glad there’s no bitter after-taste. The contrast between the stalks and florets provided interesting texture. We liked the fact that the chef had injected them with enough wok hei to render this dish a 6.5 out of 10.
It took another 10-15 minutes before the deal we came for arrived – Crab Bee Hoon! After taking a sip of the soup, we understood why people are prepared to queue and wait for it daily.
Unfortunately, Ross did not partake in this meal as he said someone told him the stock is made of pork bones. I doubted so as I do not use pork for this but to be sure, before we left, I asked the staff and she confirmed they do not use pork or pork bones in their stock for this dish – “pure crab essence” she said.
Poor Ross went without any supper that night… I had to post this recipe to make up to him. So May, please cook for him now you that have this recipe
Crab Bee Hoon Soup recipe
Recipe (serves 2-3)
500g fresh Laksa Noodles, blanched in hot water for a couple of minutes (if dried version, follow instructions on package).
1 tablespoon Groundnut Oil.
2 tablespoons melted Unsalted Butter.
4 cloves Garlic, bashed.
5 slices Old Ginger.
2½-3 cups Chicken Broth (*fresh or canned).
½ cup Evaporated Milk (Carnation brand preferred).
1 teaspoon Dried Sole Fish (toasted or deep-fry till crispy and pound into powdery state), optional.
1 kg Sri Lankan or Mud Crab, cleaned and cut body into 4-6 pieces.
A small bunch of Mustard Greens (Chye Sim, Choy Sum), cut lengthwise into 3-4 sections.
2-3 tablespoons Hua Tiao Chiew or Brandy, optional.
½ tablespoon Fish Sauce or Light Soy Sauce (or to taste).
Salt and White Pepper Powder, to taste.
Scallions and Cilantro Leaves, sectioned and chopped (optional).
Pickled Green Chillies or
Red cut Chillies with
Light Soy Sauce
Fresh Chicken Stock:
2-3 Chicken Carcasses, cleaned and chop into 2 each.
2 tablespoons Dried Soybeans, soaked for half and hour. Rinsed and drained dry.
50g Dried Anchovies (Ikan Bilis), rinsed well and drain dry.
1 Red Onion, cut into wedges.
3 pieces Old Ginger.
1.5 litre Water.
Place all the ingredients in a pot and simmer for 2 hours until stock is reduced to 3-4 cups. Strain and discard ingredients. Reserve stock for this dish. You may also substitute with chicken and ikan bilis granules if lazy
1. Scald the laksa noodles with hot boiling water for a couple of minutes. Rinse the noodles with cold running water to remove the starch of the noodles. Drain the noodles dry and add one teaspoon oil. Mix to coat and set aside.
2. Add oil to heated wok and saute the ginger till frgrant. Add garlic and fry till they turn light golden brown.
3. Add in the crab pieces and drizzle 2 tablespoons Hua Tiao Chiew or Brandy around the wok so the alcohol evaporates, stirring a few times over high heat.
4. Add in the strained stock, milk, butter, dried sole fish powder and fish sauce (or light soy).
5. Heat claypot on another stove and transfer the wok ingredients into the claypot. Add noodles and bring to the boil.
6. Cover claypot with lid and simmer on high heat until the crab turns red about 5 minutes.
7. Add the vegetables and season with pepper and salt to taste. Add additional 1 tablespoon Hua Tiao Chiew or Brandy, if desired. Adjust with more evaporated milk if you prefer creamier soup.
8. Bring it to a final quick boil, turn off heat and top with garnishing. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.
Mellben Seafood is famous for their butter crabs, chilli crabs and crab bee hoon soup. They have several branches in Singapore but I have only eaten at this branch. Their food was good and I would like to go back there to try out their other dishes. The staff service is efficient and friendly. Be prepared to wait or make your reservations in advance.
Mellben Seafood 龙海鲜螃蟹王 (Toa Payoh)
Address: Block 211, Lorong 8 Toa Payoh,
Tel: 6353 3120
Happy eating and cooking