With a gigantic crab installation greeting every passer-by and patron, it doesn’t take much to guess how the people behind Holy Crab are like—fun-loving, playful at heart, and ever so quirky. Here, it’s all about being tongue-in-cheek.
“We want customers to have fun from the moment you step into the restaurant, from the music you listen to, the food you eat, and our menu,” says Joy, Chef Elton’s partner.
The business first began in Chef Elton’s humble abode, as a private dining kitchen back in 2009. In 2017, Elton took a leap of faith and opened his first brick-and-mortar store at Tan Quee Lan Street in Bugis. They have since moved to their newest space at The Capitol, where Chef Elton helms the kitchen and Joy handles the front-of-house.
A partnership built on trust
All those years ago, all while juggling his private dining business, Chef Elton was also managing his full-time job in the Logistics sector. What made him decide to work on Holy Crab full-time then?
“It’s about interest, passion, and hobby.” During the span of his career, he travelled the world and saw how many restaurants operated. He had the opportunity to experience and taste various cuisines too. All of it further spurred his interest in cooking.
When Joy and Elton started dating, she began to help out with the restaurant and found a knack for certain tasks, like brainstorming for new dishes.
“We both have a similar sense of humour. That’s why when we talk about our menu, or about this and that, we always have a lot of fun.”
“What I love about Joy is that we can always agree on certain ideas that I have or she has, and we’re like: ‘Yeah, let’s do it,'” says Elton.
Apart from their similar sense of humour, Joy and Elton are also aligned on where they’d like the business to head in the future. On this, Joy says: “Getting there might be different, but [we’re still looking] in the same direction.”
We have to trust each other [but] we are each other’s harshest critics.
At the end of the day, both of them have the interests of the customers at heart. To them, it’s about maintaining price integrity and upholding the quality of the food, so that customers benefit most.
What is Holy Crab about?
In celebration of local flavours, Holy Crab’s menu boasts over 12 different crab dishes. Among which is the unique Green Mumba ($138), a green chilli crab dish that is unlike any other.
Instead of the usual way of preparation, which calls for the crab to be steamed separately before being doused or cooked with the gravy, the crab is braised with the sauce itself. This results in deeper flavours, and you’ll taste the sweet and savoury flavours of the crab, even in the gravy.
Mainly using fresh Sri Lankan crabs, their stocks are painstakingly procured from different suppliers. Plus, crabs are killed and prepared upon order, which means that only live crabs pass the test. For those that arrive dead, they are cooked in soups and broths or used for fried rice instead.
Beyond crabs, the restaurant also has a unique take on the traditional Sweet and Sour Pork. Their Sweet and Sour Pumbaa Glazed Crispy Pork is cooked with aged balsamic vinegar. Plus, instead of lychee, the dish features tender rambutan flesh, which definitely attests to the dish’s Singaporean flair. All dishes are available as part of their Set Menus.
Going the distance with their loved ones’ support
Holy Crab moved to its current space in late 2020. Less than half a year later, the Heightened Alert restrictions were issued, and dine-in restrictions began yet again. This period of time must have been stressful for any F&B owner, let alone for Elton and Joy.
“If we say it’s not stressful, we are definitely lying to your face. And we have all the overheads from opening a new restaurant, from renovation costs, and all that.”
But the pair continues trudging on, believing that good things will come by focusing on the right goals—upholding food quality, bringing the best to customers, minimizing mistakes, and keeping their team happy so that everyone shares the very same vision.
“Go with the flow, that’s all I can say. Be like water,” Elton sums up.
“So, Bruce Lee ah?”
Elton and Joy, with the support and blessings from their loved ones, and even their trusted crab suppliers, are definitely on the right track.
“Everything is all in the right step for us, and we really appreciate it.”