MANILA, JULY 26, 2007
(STAR) CONSUMERLINE By Ching M. Alano - Eating out is arguably one of the Pinoy family’s favorite bonding activities (the other is, of course, eating at home). My not-so-big family is no exception. We’re forever on a “see-food” diet. A lot of times, we’re on a seafood diet, too. As a child spending summer and Christmas vacations in my grandparents’ home in Batangas City, I grew up amid the piquant smell of the tulingan fish wrapped in banana leaves and left to sit in a claypot until it was ready to be eaten with brown rice. At home, my mother made sure we ate a lot of seafoods — fish, clams, mussels, snails (escargot to the French and kuhol to us Pinoys), and crabs. (Did you know that there are far less of certain cancers and diseases in Japan and some parts of Asia where a lot of seafood is consumed? That the best sources of good fats, vitamins, and minerals are seafoods?)

That is why, until today, when it comes to choosing where to eat after the anticipated Mass on a Saturday evening, a seafood restaurant is often a hands-down winner for my family. And now, the youngest members of the family — a fifteen- and an eighteen-year-old who are both finicky/hearty eaters — can only give their two-thumbs-up and burp of approval.

So, why don’t you join this happy club of seafood lovers at The Red Crab’s Seafood Club, Crustasia Asian Crab and Seafood House, and Claw Daddy Crab House and American Grill? Membership is open to everybody, young and old. All you need is a hearty appetite — especially with the Seafood Club’s new daily grand crab and seafood buffet that boasts over 50 items! It’ll probably take you a whole day to wade through this feast of seafood delights. The Saturday we were at The Red Crab, we had to swim our way to the buffet table amid a sea of guests, a lot of them foreigners.

“Crabs are always a special treat, and not just for our foreign guests,” says The Red Crab’s Seafood Club restaurant manager Anthony Sarmiento. “For a lot of Filipinos, crabs are not something they have every day.”

And when they say crabs, they mean CRABS.

“We only get male crabs because they have more meat than female crabs which have more eggs,” explains Mia Bernardo, operations director, The Red Crab Group and Claw Daddy.

The crabs come in fresh daily from Zamboanga and Southern Luzon. The usual king crab size available at The Red Crab ranges from 1 kg. to 1.5 kg. The heaviest crab weighs 2 kg. Now, that’s a lot of crab!

And if it’s not on the buffet, you can order the following crabs at no extra cost: butter ginger crab (sauteed in white wine ginger and lots of butter); Crab Singapura (yes, the authentic Singaporean chili crab); Crab Casino (sauteed with onion, bacon, mushrooms, and celery); White Pepper Crab (local version of the famed Singaporean Pepper Crab with Five Spice and lots of freshly cracked black pepper corns); Crab Maritess (sauteed in olive oil, garlic, white wine, and chilis); Szechuan crab (sauteed in sweet, spicy, and gingery Szechuan sauce); steamed crab; deep-fried crab; Pu-Yi crab vermicelli (with sotanghon in light sate broth); Thai chili crab (cooked in red curry paste and coconut milk); Crab Tomiharu (simmered in miso broth, Japanese style); Raymund’s Salt & Pepper Crab (deep-fried crab marinated in Chinese herbs and spices).

But if you’re on a date, you may want to go easy on those crabs (it can be pretty messy if you don’t know how to eat crabs with your hands — but fret not because The Red Crab’s crabs are quite eater-friendly and there are crab crackers and mallets at your disposal) and go for the other best-sellers on the menu like the soup and salad, the New Zealand mussels in lemon butter cream sauce with French bread cubes, the calamari rings with wasabi mayo, the Thai shrimp balls, the fish and chips with three delicious dips, the pastas, the paella, barbecues, and even Japanese grilled goodies.

The Red Crab’s buffet goes American with over 50 amazing American-inspired items. Diners can choose from a wide selection of appetizers, main entrees, soups, salads, desserts, and freshly grilled seafoods. The American buffet is available from Monday to Sunday at P575++, Friday and Saturday dinner at P625. And jazz for you, Red Crab’s Weekend American Jazz Brunch turns up the heat lunchtime Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Beginning July 27, the special brunch a la carte menu offers seafood breakfast classics. Brunch cocktails are served all day. Kids three years old and younger eat for free (subject to certain conditions). The Jazz Trio of Vince Lahorra plays standard and Nuvo Jazz and soul music to jazz up your dining experience.

After that light but heartwarming crab buffet (the wonderful thing about crabs is that you can have a bucketful of ’em and still not feel full), go ahead and give in to some sweet temptations. We recommend the Concorde that’ll surely make your taste buds soar to chocolate heaven. Certainly, the Seafood Club is not just about seafoods.

And now, you can have your crab and eat it, too, when you dine using your Citibank card. Citibank World Privileges has some very sumptuous offers, valid until December 31, 2007: free Calamares Fritos at The Red Crab (Greenbelt 3, Makati) for a minimum bill of P1,000; free catfish salad at Crustasia (at Power Plant Mall, Rockwell, Makati and at the newly opened TriNoma Mall, Quezon City) for a minimum bill of P1,000; free fried loaf of onions at Claw Daddy (The Ledge, sixth floor, Shangri-La Plaza Mall) for a minimum bill of P1,500; free dessert of the day at the Seafood Club for a minimum bill of P1,500; free Pinoy nachos at Blackbeard’s Seafood Island for a minimum bill of P1,500.

Now, who wouldn’t get crabby with all that?

* * *

(Dubbed the next-generation privilege program, Citibank World Privileges offers a wealth of exclusive offers like discounts, complimentary gifts, upgrades, and a wide range of exciting rewards to Citibank cardholders. Exceptional services and superior benefits await cardholders in over 1,000 merchants locally and in over 17,000 merchants across Asia Pacific and the world, through Citibank’s comprehensive local, regional and global knowledge and partnerships.)

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved