Throughout my childhood, I fondly remember my family chartering fishing boats. Under the full moon and Karachi’s cool winter breeze, local fisherman would sail us into the calm Arabian Sea – to catch and prepare fresh crab. As us city-dwellers marveled at the infinite serenity of the open sea, we were served plate after plate of freshly caught and cooked crab. It was a magical experience then and the rose-tinted glasses nostalgia often wears have done nothing to reduce my love of these excursions.
So you can imagine my simultaneous excitement and hesitation when I was asked to review Chimes’ October Crab Festival here in Dubai. I love me some crab but are my expectations too high?
Located on a quiet corner in Al Barsha, Chimes sports an intimate ambience with a subtle oriental décor. It also has an open kitchen where customers can watch their dishes being prepared from start to finish.
Chimes is celebrating their Crab Festival for the month of October by decking out their menu with 7 unique flavors of crab in both hard and soft shells. These dishes span the gamut with dishes covering Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian cuisines (and more). The wide variety of dishes is a testament to the owners’ extensive travels and their commitment to finding the perfect ingredients.
Our chef was kind enough to come and answer any question we may have had about the menu. He also invited us to inspect the live crabs they would use to prepare the dishes. Although I politely declined, the option is an excellent touch for customers to get a feel for how freshly these dishes are made.
We started off with the Tempura Crab, deep fried crab enveloped in bold flavors and an assortment of sautéed vegetables. Definitely a great dish to start off with.
The second dish was the Dynamite Crab, which lives up to its name -and then some. If you’re a fan of an absolute explosion of spices, this dish is for you. The Dynamite Crab relies on its strong combination of peppers and spices, in the process eclipsing the crab’s distinctive taste. But it makes up for it by delivering an overwhelming punch to your taste buds that leaves you craving more.
We were now presented with the final two dishes. Both hard shelled crabs, they were beautifully presented in woks drizzled with their distinctive sauce and fresh bell peppers, spring onions and more. The first of the two, the Sweet and Sour Crab put me right at home. The familiar taste along with the generous serving of gravy was an instant reminder of the crab I devoured atop that boat so many years ago. Though some people may consider its flavor a tad clichéd, the perfectly cooked crab and the irresistibly tangy sauce is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
However, nothing prepared me for the final dish of the night: the Malaysian Butter Crab. Generously seeped in a creamy, subtly flavored white sauce, the Malaysian Butter Crab uses its eclectic ingredients with ingenuity, allowing the flavors to dance alongside the juicy crabmeat in perfect harmony. If Tempura Crab met my expectations, then the Malaysian Butter Crab definitely exceeded them.
Overall, Chimes’ October Crab Fest has some stellar dishes that left me wanting more. Definitely recommended.