BANGKOK — Giant, delectable crabs straight from Sri Lanka have snapped up the attention of swanky foodies citywide – but will size alone be enough to edge them out over local seafood joints?
Ministry of Crab is a Sri Lankan restaurant that’s been listed on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants from 2015 to 2019, and ranked 35th in the 2019 edition as the top restaurant in Sri Lanka. Their latest branch just opened to Thais on Sunday in Sukhumvit Soi 31, with its most expensive 2kg crabs costing more than 8,000 baht.
It remains to be seen whether the import of a Sri Lankan luxury seafood eatery will do well for both expats and locals in Bangkok, a city known for copious amounts of seafood at various prices. Incidentally, right across from Ministry of Crab is a branch of T-Pochana Seafood Restaurant, also known for crab dishes such as stir-fried curry crab and black pepper crab.
When asked if she was worried about the competition, the director of the company responsible for bringing the restaurant to Thailand smiled.
“They’re very different restaurants,” Chandini Guljrajani said.
Ministry of Crab was founded in 2011 by Dharshan Munidasa and cricketers Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, with branches in Colombo, Shanghai, Manila, Mumbai, the Maldives, and most recently, Bangkok. Located in the hip Phrom Phong area, the Bangkok branch is two stories that includes an open kitchen, long wooden tables, and decor of large heliconia plants, whose flowers resemble crab claws.
Jay Karunakaran, general manager, said that the seafood is sourced from Sri Lanka as well as Thailand and our neighboring countries, and the restaurant has a strict no-freezer policy. That means everything is shipped alive, and killed after the customer orders.
At the press launch event, attendants were given an “OMG” crab to share. Our 1.6kg crab would have cost 6,150 baht.
Crabs ranging from half a kilo to two kilos cost from 1,100 baht to 8,150 baht, and are given a choice of being prepared as Pepper Crab, Chili Crab, Curry Crab, Garlic Chili Crab, and Butter Crab. We tried the pepper crab, which surprisingly had no salt and instead just pure, pungent, hot black pepper that highlighted the pure crab.
Comparatively, the Colombo branch of Ministry of Crab serves a Crabzilla for LKR39,400, or 6,611 baht.
Here’s a photo of an OMG crab claw for size. To be honest, we have never before tasted such as succulent, bouncy crab where one bite of claw meat literally fills your entire mouth with fresh crab.
Karunakaran recommended that diners eat with their hands, fingers mopping up the pepper sauce, and wash your hands in the finger bowl of Sri Lankan tea and lime.
Ministry of Crab also serves prawns, although they’re comparatively less memorable than the crabs. Prawns range from half a dozen black tiger prawns for 580 baht to one 500g Prawnzilla for 1,280 baht. Pictured above is a Huge Prawn (620 baht) weighing from 200g to 250g, served in a garlic chili sauce.
Of course fresh and huge, but it really is just a larger-than-average prawn in a puddle of oily garlic with few other embellishing spices. A Prawnzilla in Colombo goes for LKR6,100, or about 1,023 baht.
At the restaurant, a display of the different crab sizes will show which ones are in stock by lighting up.
Ministry of Crab’s Bangkok branch is open from 6:30pm to 11:30pm, and is located at Sam-ed building in Sukhumvit Soi 31, a walking distance from BTS Phrom Phong.. Then from Dec. 11 onwards, they will also be open for lunch at 11:30am to 2:30pm.
This review was based on a hosted visit and is unsponsored.