Roland Chilli crab is an old household brand many in Singapore would relate to as the restaurant for authentic chilli crab. They are located in the Marine parade district tucked on the top 6th floor of a HDB multi-storey carpark beside the next notable landmark, Parkway parade shopping center. Let’s check the restaurant out with a casual dine-in.
At first impressions, the restaurant is large, taking advantage of the large floor areas provided by the mulit-storey carpark below. We had seen other similar restaurants in this setting like the Redstar at Chin Swee Rd and Yan Palace Cantonese restaurant at South bridge road.
Also, like both Redstar and Yan Palace, Roland restaurant does has a rustic 90s vibe to it. It is founded and run by owner Roland Lim, 64 from the same era too, having been around for more than two decades since the late nineties.
A place for chilli crab
You come to Roland mainly for their Chilli crab. They are after all an expert in the uniquely Singaporeans dish, touting a Secret Chilli Crab Recipe since the 1956s. This is much so verified by the number of accolades and awards publicized on the signboards you see at their restaurant entrance. I am pleased to report that their food quality do back up the claims.
Here, your chilli crab is offered in three traditional flavours, with black or white pepper being the next most popular after classic Chilli. The crabs are huge too, with a dish with two crabs typical costing about $78.00. This one dish easily serves a table of 3-4 persons as a course meal.
Furthermore, the crab flesh are meaty and largely juicy, the meats simmer when scooped and shell pre-cracked opened, revealing the soft juicy tender crab meat within. Also, I reckon these large crabs are of the Sri Lankan crab. Additionally, the shell already strategically cracked from the kitchen in the right areas so there is minimal effort needed on your end to pry the goodness out. Also, if need be crab eating tools, shell crackers, gloves and even bibs are provided on request.
Best paired with fried Mantou bread
Additionally, your chilli crab is best paired with their crispy mantou bread (60 cents per bun). Their thick and creamy chilli sauce compliments the pan-fried dough buns. Only recently, the chilli crab traditionist had introduced salted egg yolk into their menu choices.
Moreover, it is recommended to have your chilli crab with the less spicy option, so you can taste more of the chilli crab sauce. Also, the gravy does still bring out the flavour of the crab without being overwhelmingly spicy. Interestingly the dish was the brainchild of Mr Roland’s mother, Cher Yam Tian. Back then she experimented with more adventurous ways to cook crabs in the 1950s at their Palm Beach at Upper East Coast Road in the 1960s.
Furthermore, being a Chinese restaurant at heart their menu offerings are typical of that of zhi-char. You can have them through a set-menu or ala carte.
Here, on offer are also a mix of seafood dishes comprising of regular fish and shellfish. I found their fried steamed pomfet is an interesting one, comprising of a half-fried and steam combo, it is worthy of a try.
Also, their bamboo clams gets a recommendation too. You will recognize them by their long straight hollow shells which resemble bamboo sticks, hence the name. You can have them cooked clear (steamed) or braised in a sauce of your liking, like mild-spicy oyster sauce mix as pictured above. Also, the clams are generous in size and laid open from the kitchen with good presentation.
Wrapping up my dinner includes having a go at their hot plate bean curd as well as asparagus and soups. They are typical of Chinese zhi-char and a good way to complete your gastronomical chilli crab meal.
Price-wise, you roughly know what you are signing up whenever you dine-in at a Chinese restaurant. What you pay is what you get. Such dinner often are priced more at a premium, especially so if you order al-la-crate meals instead of set meals for sharing. This includes typical 4-8 person set meals costing from $400 to even upwards nearing $800 per table of 10. I found the menu food offerings well-priced for the quality. A dine-in for 5 in my visit costed about $458 all inclusive, so that boils down to about $80 per head, about the same price as a hotel buffet.
Moreover, I found what sets Roland different, the staff was very attentive to your needs and service is brisk. Particularly for the chilli crab, commendably, the staff too were also quick in ensuring that every diner has adequate finger bowls bibs as well as crab shell levers available.
All in all, if you wish to have a go at one of the best chilli crab dishes in Singapore Roland restaurant in the old marine parade town center is the place to go. Prices are affordable and expected for a Chinese-style Asian dining experience. This, coupled with excellent service.
Must Go! | Actually pretty Good | Worth Trying | Shortlist Optionally | Should Avoid
Roland Chilli Crab restaurant Locality Map
89 Marine Parade Central, #06-750,
Opening Hours: 11:30am- 2:30pm, 6pm- 10pm (Split shifts)