SEA CRAB BAR-CAFE-RESTAURANT $$
I’ve lived around the corner from Sea Crab Bar-Cafe-Restaurant cum music venue for a few weeks now. I’ve concluded that it does a great (and cheap) Americano. That it’s an ideal spot to work for a few hours (but bring earphones, bad pop music is almost guaranteed). And that the staff at this Hoi An restaurant are welcoming, smiley and attentive despite their obvious shyness.
I’ve perused the Western breakfast menu with interest but haven’t (yet) sampled it. Which I will be doing soon, after Andy and I had a very enjoyable lunch there recently.
We sat outside, at one of the attractive tables by a cheery yellow wall. Service was immediate and although the staff don’t have a huge amount of English, they’re very sweet and eager to learn.
The first 10 minutes at this Hoi An Bar/Restaurant were spent reading through the fairly extensive drinks menu – boasting everything from fine whiskeys to sticky rice spirits to alcohol-laced coffees. There were plenty of non-alcoholic options, like milkshakes and smoothies, too… although since it was Friday and lunchtime I opted for the cocktail of the day – a cosmopolitan – while Andy went for a mudslide. (Why? Well, because it’s essentially a milkshake. And he’s essentially a child.)
Neither wowed us, unfortunately. So when I go again, I’ll probably stick to something from their wide range of wines or beers instead. (Note: With 2-for-1 local beers from 7–8pm, and these beers only 25K to begin with, it’s amazingly cheap for a bar near the beach!)
Luckily, the food at Sea Crab Bar-Cafe-Restaurant was more impressive. The menu has a range of tasty-sounding fish dishes – which, being by the sea, we would hope for – but also some Western-craving crunchers, from spag bol to toasted sambos.
Andy got one such craving cruncher – fish ‘n’ chips – while I, in need of a red meat fix, got the “grilled striploin 5 spice”, served with side salad and fries. Our improvised “surf ‘n’ turf” turned out to be a great idea. My meat, not served as a steak but in tender chunks, was delicious; the spice mix in itself extremely tasty and given an extra kick by a side helping of hot peppercorn sauce. The salad was very welcome, too – a Mediterranean number with black olives, chopped peppers and a nice balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
Andy’s fish ‘n’ chips ticked all the right boxes – fresh and flaky on the inside, crispy yet oil-free on the outside – and the tartare sauce was as good as you’d get at home.
Both of us remarked on the well-sized portions, too. Appearing slightly on the small side, they were actually the perfect amount. We were left satisfied but not with that sickly, over-full, post-pub-grub feeling. Which meant more room for dessert!
We shared a portion of tiramisu, which arrived seconds later, in a chilled glass from the fridge. I don’t know if it was homemade and it lacked the boozy punch that I normally love in tiramisu… but still, we scraped the glass clean and it was a nice end to the meal.
I’d be happy to eat at Sea Crab Bar-Cafe-Restaurant again and to try any of the delicious-sounding fish dishes: calamari with satay sauce, tiger prawns and coconut or braised mahi-mahi in claypot. (Or I might cave and go for the spaghetti bolognese. After all, these guys do red meat pretty damn well!)
Like I mentioned, Sea Crab is quite a new addition to Hoi An’s restaurant and cafe scenes. So there are still a few kinks to iron out – like what identity they’re going for. They market themselves as “East meets West, with a Caribbean twist.” (Now, it must’ve been a very clever twist indeed, because I certainly didn’t see it coming!) Then there’s the Native American dreamcatchers and the Bob Marley mural that oddly complements another of a busty, beer-toting Bavarian lady.
It’s all a little random but hey… this place is colorful and welcoming, with good food and great coffee.
I’ll be a regular patron at Sea Crab Bar-Cafe-Restaurant … and I suggest you pay it a visit or several, too! Whether you go to work with a coffee, have a meal, enjoy a few happy hour beers or soak up the live music (Thursdays and Sundays with the occasional Saturday and Wednesday thrown in), add this place to your list.
See our Events Calendar for the line-up of bands.