Craving Crustaceans? Ministry of Crab Opens Its Doors In Manila
From the moment you strap on your bib bearing the Ministry of Crab’s tongue-in-cheek “Keep Calm and Crab On” tagline, you know you’re in for a roll-your-sleeves-up, finger-lickin’ good time.
The crab is king in this kitchen and Sri Lankan culinary icon Dharshan Munidasa and his partners, cricketers Kumar Sangakarra and Mahela Jayawardene,have successfully brought this crustacean-centric concept around the world. Since the 2015 opening of the original Ministry of Crab in a 400-year-old Dutch hospital in Colombo,the trio have opened outposts in Tokyo, and most recently, Shanghai.
Last week saw the launch of this Sri Lankan seafood headliner’s fourth branch, here at Shangri-La at the Fort. From the tropical paradise of the Philippines to the tropical paradise of Sri Lanka, the Shangri-La team trained with the chef-owner to immerse themselves in the Sri Lankan way. Munidasa himself flew in from Sri Lanka with his team for a few days especially for the occasion and joined the five-star property’s General Manager, John Rice, in introducing this multi-awarded concept to the local market.
The stunning space, which shares the casual, airy vibe of the original, can seat more than 120 at a time. The double-floor, high-ceilinged main dining room is as posh as it is invitingly unfussy. The two private rooms, meanwhile, offer more intimacy for special celebrations.
Dark woods dominate the colonial-inspired interiors played up by ambient lighting and the bar, which features a number of exotic sea- and tropics-inspired concoctions, such as the Ceylon Spritz, Spirit of the Sea, and Kandy’s Loot is a good place to start off the evening with pre-dinner cocktails and mocktails.
The pièce de résistance, of course, are of the six-legged kind, and it is imperative that one tries the pepper and chilli versions. From cracking the claws of the half-kilo guys to the two-kilo Crabzillas, no matter one’s appetite size, it’s music to seafood lovers’ ears. And after sucking out the claw juices, it would be a Sri Lankan crime not to soak up the ultra savoury pepper sauce or the chilli olive oil with cubes of the traditional wood-fired kade bread. Careful now—this is addictive!
Munidasa pointed out that while some of the key ingredients are flown in, such as the potent Sri Lankan black pepper and single estate teas, the seafood, however, he adamantly insisted, had to be the best and freshest local fruits de mer. “We have a non-freezer policy,” he asserted.
The bill of fare doesn’t end with the centerpiece crab; the clams or the nicely presented shell-full of baked crab are also notable dishes to try. For fans of prawns, a half-dozen of the succulent black tigers is a juicy way to go. Looking for something heavier? Order the whopping Prawnzilla.
Surprisingly, one will also find Filipino dishes such as the crabsisigand the lumpiang ubod. Even the dessert menu crosses Filipino and Sri Lankan flavours, offering sweet specialities like agar agarand kulfias well as rice and the Philippine mango.
Ministry of Crab: Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila, Philippines