Every so often a genuinely “new” restaurant appears in Ao Nang, by which we mean a place that is not serving the same old menu of pizza-pasta-curry-(frozen) seafood. The Crab Company is one of these that has dared to do something different, and it is well worth a visit.
As the name suggests, the restaurant’s focus is on crabs – all live, some caught locally, others brought over from the Gulf coast – and it does them well. Crab fans will be in heaven.
Our sampling menu started with some excellent Thai style crab cakes, made with plenty of juicy meat and just the right dose of spice. They were served with a light mango and watermelon salsa and Asian pesto, which sounds like a bizarre combo, but worked well. Accompanying the crab cakes was a “tom yum kung” soup, served in a clay pot with some enormous tiger prawns.
It is worth noting that The Crab Company also offers many non-crab dishes – be it Thai food, or plenty of other seafood and even vegetarian options, though all have Asian flavours.
The signature dish of Chilli Crab was next and the verdict was that, though not as good as the best in Singapore, it tasted very authentic, with a complex, balanced flavour. Bonus points for the classic mantou fried buns to mop up the sauce and for the heaps of roe inside the crab – a large “black crab” or “pu dum”.
After copious finger-licking and dunking in the lime-filled finger bowls, we finished with a deeply savoury black pepper soft-shell crab dish, which had a strong aromatic – though not overpowering – taste. The dish was served alongside a classic pineapple fried rice, lightly spiced with curry, cashew nuts, raisins and seafood.
Elegant sorbets in intense flavours such as passion fruit, lime and coconut – rounded off what was, all in all, a very good meal.
Drinks-wise, we had some excellent mojitos to start the evening, including a Thai twist on the traditional recipe – a Spicy “Tom Yum” Mojito. We half-expected soup in a glass but it was actually pretty good. The usual mint flavour dominated, but there were notes of lemongrass, lime leaves and a subtle warmth of chilli – recommended. The cocktail menu in general is excellent, if pricey (around 250 baht / glass). House white on the other hand is average, so go for an upgrade if you can afford it, or perhaps temper it with ice and soda if you can’t.
As it serves alcohol, The Crab Company is obviously not a Halal restaurant, but worth noting is that it does run a Halal kitchen – there is no pork at all on the menu and the kitchen staff are all Muslim.
The restaurant is located on Ao Nang’s once famous “seafood street” – the covered boardwalk at the northernmost end of the beach that continues along the sand while the road turns the corner towards Nopparat Thara. A few years ago, it was impossible to get a table at any of the restaurants along here. Now, perhaps due to excessive development around the entrance, the street has become a hidden gem, with only a few people wandering inside to discover Ao Nang’s only absolute waterfront restaurants. This handful of eateries offer unimpeded sunset views that easily rival the crowded “it” restaurant The Hilltop – though the views are across the beach, rather than from up on high.
Sadly, we missed the sunset on our visit, but can 100% vouch for it! If you can get there by 6pm, this side of the beach is much less busy, and you will see the silhouettes of passing longtail boats and the sky slowly turning to dusk over the horizon.
The place remains relatively quiet throughout the evening – unlike the hustle experienced on the main beachfront road – which makes it ideal for a romantic supper, or simply for those who value conversation. The clean, nautical inspired decor gives a relaxed, beachy vibe, and a live solo musician playing low-key tunes adds some ambience. If you enjoy seafood and crabs, don’t hesitate – get cracking!
Last updated: October 12, 2016