Saturday, July 25, 2009

Harry's Singapore Chilli Crab...NOT.

Before I start, let me say that I went to Harry's a week ago. And it took me a week to write to post. Not because I didn't have time, but I needed a week to calm down and let the fury within me die down a bit. Anyone of my friends on facebook would've experience the wrath of my fury on Saturday night and I didn't want to unleash that to the rest of the world just yet.

I was so SO looking forward to going to Harry's Singapore Chilli crab ever since I found out about it a few years ago. Its around the corner from Spice I am and I've always wanted to go, but have always been tempted by thai more. When Amz said she was organising her birthday party there I did a little cheer inside me. Especially since PP had visited Harry's a few times and always said it was good and would invite me the next time.

We arrive at the restaurant and we're seated at a table for 10 even though there's 8 of us. Usually I wouldn't complain, but they didn't have a lazy susan on the table. Meaning we had to practically climb onto the table to get anything on the other side. This is also why I there's not many photos as it was impossible to get decent photos from the other side of the table.

Most of the people weren't huge crab eaters and only wanted 1-2 pieces to taste what Singapore chilli crab tastes like. We ordered 2 mud crabs at $64/kg. This is after I had to convince the waiter that no, we don't need 4 crabs. We want TWO crabs. TWO. NOT FOUR.

We ordered a few other dishes as well so the non-crab eaters didn't starve.

San Choy Bao - $5.20 each

This was.....disappointing. A good san choy bao should be dry and crunchy with a lovely breath of wok aroma. This was soggy and sloppy. The fried vermicelli noodles they added had turned to mush. They also put the filling onto a very wet piece of lettuce which basically watered down the whole dish and causing a huge mess when eating.

Chicken and vege with cashew nuts

We had a few other dishes that came out before this. Salt and pepper calamari was nice, but nothing to write home about. This however, is something to write home about. In blood. This was.......wrong. The vegetables, carrots and celery, was bitter. It also had a tough chewy texture which is usually the result of using old leftover veggies that have been sitting in the fridge for too long. The carrots weren't peeled and had a dark skin on it which further confirms my "bottom of the veggie bin" theory. This dish wasn't touched much. And if it wasn't $20 for this, I wouldn't have forced myself to eat it. I would actually rate this dish BELOW food court food which has been sitting in the bain marie for too long. BELOW.

"Singapore Chilli crab"

OK, this was the only decent photo of the crab I could get from my side of the table. Compare that "Singapore Chilli Crab" with the Singapore Chilli Crab I had in Singapore:

1. Notice the lack of sauce in Harry's
2. Harry's sauce contains NO tomato sauce

Not only was the sauce NOT Singapore Chilli crab sauce, it was OVERLY salted. There was 2 taste in the sauce. Salt and chilli. This was a huge disappointment, especially since we had invited people hoping they get to try authentic Singapore style chilli crab.

We had ordered 2 serves of Roti because they told me they had sold out of the Man tou that you use to dip into the Singapore Chilli Crab. And honestly, what place that serves real Singapore Chilli crab will sell out of Mantou at 7:30pm on a Saturday night?

The waiter convinced us to order the roti instead, which we did. $5 for 4 serves. Or rather, $5 for 2 pieces of roti cut in half. And it wasn't even fresh made roti. The roti, although crispy, was dense and compact. The exact same texture of the frozen roti we buy from the asian grocery store.

Ontop of this, we had ordered 5 bowls of boiled rice (As they only serve them per bowl) at $2.80 a bowl, thinking we wanted something to soak up all the sauce with.

1. there was no sauce.
2. they only gave us 3 bowls.

When I asked for the other 2 bowls, the waiter said he had already given me 5.

Me: " You gave me 3 bowls."
Him: "No, I already gave you 5 bowls."
Me: "No. You gave me 3 bowls. 1. 2. 3." *pointing at the only bowls on the table

He gives me a look as if I had hidden the other 2 bowls. I was so close to screaming that he only gave me 3 bowls and I didn't shove the other 2 bowls down my top. My boobs really do look like that!

I was so angry by this stage I didn't even want dessert. ESPECIALLY when I saw that they were charging $9 for a fried ice cream. I basically had the mentality I didn't want to let them earn another dollar off me.

My friends went ahead and ordered fried ice creams and chocolate cake. The order was, 5 fried ice creams. 3 with caramel 2 with chocolate. What came out was 3.5 caramel and 1.5 chocolate. Yeh. They had put caramel onto the 4th order. And instead of going "oops! lets make another one or atleast scrape the caramel off", they proceeded to pour chocolate ONTOP of the caramel which resulted in topping overdose.

Then there was the ice cream. Or what we though was ice cream. It looked like a banana fritter, but when you cut into it, the whole thing collapses and starts oozing white stuff. The batter itself was incredibly doughy and chewy, almost like stale chinese fried dough sticks.

And just to make the night worse, the people eating the fried ice cream started digging up corn kernels. a fried ice cream!?

Chocolate cake

Our friend had ordered a chocolate cake, was starting to think he was the only one to get out unscathed. That is until he realised the $10 slice of chocolate cake he ordered was from Coles! It still has the ridges from where they peeled the baking paper away from the cake.

By the end of the night, most of the table was a ball of raging fury from being so openly ripped off. For 2 crabs, 4 main meals, 5 bowls of rice, roti, soft drink and dessert, we paid $420.50. And that is exactly what we paid. $420.50. No more, no less. I then wrote on the receipt that "THE ICE CREAM IS CRAP!!!" and handed it back to the waitress. I probably would've written a much harsher note had there been room on the receipt.

I can't remember the last time I have ever walked away from a restaurant feeling so angry and ripped off. If you think this post is harsh, you should've seen how I was saturday night and will understand why I didn't blog straight away.

How it has such a "good" reputation I don't understand. I guess being endorsed by The Veronicas might have something to do with that. And the wall of photos with celebrities visiting will probably contribute to that. But I can tell you, none of the celebrities were asian and must never have had an authentic Singapore Chilli crab. Because if they have, they would not endorse this place.

I will NEVER, EVER go back to this place. EVER.


Karen @ Citrus and Candy said...

Ouch! What a horrible experience!

I probably would've told the waiter to shove his 5 bowls of rice where the sun don't shine...and more! I admire your restraint.

I've only ever known this place from afar but sadly for them, looks like it's going to remain that way.

Karen @ Citrus and Candy said...

BTW, if you're in the area there's a Chinese restaurant in Carlingford that serves fabulous crabs...and cheaper too!

Simon said...

I'm sorry to hear that you've had such a bad experience with them.

You know though, not to intentionally fuel you're anger further but why didn't you just complain to the manager/chef about the poor meals, poor service etc. beyond the issue with the rice bowls? If the restaurant is worth their salt, I would have thought that they would have compensated your group in some way, even if it's to get you out of the restaurant so that your complaints weren't disturbing the other customers.

I can appreciate that I'm talking from hindsight. Please don't take this as being critical. I'm not trying to be. It just eludes me that you guys would actually pay that kind of money for a meal that was THAT bad.

SoRMuiJAi said...

At first I gave them the benefit of the doubt. I was thinking, ok, every restaurant has a few bad dishes and we just dealt with it. But then more and more little things compounded together to make the situation worse.

Despite my raging ranting and raving, our group actually had a good time catching up with each other and laughing at how obscenely ripped off we were. (I was certainly a lot more light hearted at the restaurant than when I got home to brew over it)

It was also my friends birthday and I didn't want to cause a scene. It wasn't until we were about to leave did I realise everyone had felt as ripped off as I did.

I think the major disappointment was the fact that this place is supposed to be FAMOUS for their Singapore Chilli Crab, yet it seems more like a trap for people who have never tried the dish before. And I think that annoys me more than bad food. Bad food I can probably deal with, I just won't go back. But bad food at a high price with an intention of ripping people off really REALLY peeves me off.

Simon said...

A birthday? I imagine that must have been a contributing factor to your rage and general disappointment.

Speaking of dissapointment, if the crab was as "famous" as you've indicated, it makes me wonder who'd made the recommendations and when. Maybe it was good back in the day but it sounds like now there's a lot left to be desired.

Thanks for taking the time to clarify the situation and for the post in general. As I indicated, I'm sorry to hear that your dining party had such a bad experience.

SoRMuiJAi said...

I really want to know why they're so famous as well. I can understand the quality dropping after the years, but when the dish is done in a completely different way...?

I guess people didn't really know what Singapore chilli crab was back then and they may have built their client base on people's lack of knowledge. Now with the internet and cheap airfares, they can't keep hiding behind the smoke and mirrors for much longer. And especially not charge the outrageous prices they do now.

And it looks like I'm not the only one who thinks that. A few of my Malay/Singaporean friends told me afterwards that they had tried the place and will swear never to go back either.

Howard said...

I've always been suss about this place, never tried it but I trust your judgement as I've also had the 'real' version in Singapore. The closest I've had is at sinma laksa house in kingsford, the crabs are about $10/$15dollars above market value which I'm ok with.

SoRMuiJAi said...

I've never heard of that place. Must look it up! I'm always after a good Singapore Chilli Crab! Do they do Hainese chicken rice as well? *drools*

Ayako1984 said...

That's a shocker Lily...we're looking for a good Chilli Crab place, and we definitely WON'T be going to this one o_O

It's great that your restaurant reviews always tell it the way it is. The last time my friend did a a review, she was threatened with legal action! So much for freedom of speech!

SoRMuiJAi said...

God that sucks! Maybe its a good thing I take heaps of photos! I could rant and rave about how un-singaporean the chilli crab is, but nothing will describe as good as a photo. Sucks the day that people can't give a proper review.

As for good Chilli Crab, try Ginger and Spice at Neutral Bay at Military road. Run by true Singaporean and they've got a fantastic hainese chicken rice as well!