Fatty Crab | 2170 Broadway (at 77th St.) | 212.496.2722 | Reserve Now | fattycrab.com | |

IT'S FUNNY HOW the simplest pleasures offer me the most joy. Some folks need sky-diving or bungee-jumping. Some people need the overstimulation of crowded bars, loud music, and pricy drinks. Some like to travel. Nothing wrong with any of that. I like to travel too; I just don't have the patience or humor for the luggage-packing and long commutes (and the waiting before and after commutes). Lucky for me, one of the great things about living in New York City, as I always—and always will—say‚ is that a quick bus, subway or cab ride can transport me to a whole other world.

My long-time friend and favorite social partner, we'll call her "Trixie", were long overdue for one of our dinner-and-a-movie dates. I had long wanted to try something called a Fatty Dog, (an Asian-styled hot dog recently added to the menu at its home of the favorably-reviewed Fatty Crab), and since it was located on the Upper West Side—near Trixie—and near the Loews Theater near Lincoln Square where we were to see the film, The Informant, after our dinner. [Was that really all one sentence?!]

I was already looking forward to having happy food-and-film-and-fun time with Trixie, and happened to be in need of an extra pick-me-up that day since I had only earlier discovered that Mr. Shields, one of my favorite English teachers from Collegiate (my prep school of 10 years) had passed. And as it would turn out, the Fatty Crab restaurant is situated directly across the street from Collegiate.

So I ventured to 77th and Broadway a little early just to be able to look at the building that is the foundation for both my sense and sensibility (or any lack thereof!). Having just celebrated my 25th year since graduating, although missing the respective alumni reunion, it was moment was bittersweet. But as I looked into the old halls of the "Old Building", I started to chuckle with nostalgia, remember all the personality- and character-building events that occurred in and out of those classrooms, throughout those halls, and right outside the iconic Red Doors.



It's funny how I've become this "foodie" and hobbyist cook when most of my formidable childhood's taste buds were sated by the simple limits of pizza and burgers, where I nurtured right across the street from Collegiate, at Big Nick's Pizza/Burgers, which still exists in its same spot decades later.


Nostalgia sated, I did a literal 180° turn, crossed the street, and was in front of my intended destination, Fatty Crab.


I was still early, which offered me time to get a few clicks on my camera of the inside of the place, including the room and the bar. Trixie arrived by my last long shot of the bar.




We decided to grab our bottles of Asian beer and get situated at a table outside. The staff was very friendly, knowledgeable about the menu, the food origins and prep (and likewise very patient with all of my excessive conversating, which Trixie none too subtly accused me off. HA!), and seemed to take great interest in my memories of the neighborhood, me being a native NYCer and all.

The Fatty Crab dinner menu boasted a lot a theoretically neat, Asian-fused, goodies, as Trixie and I perused it come devise a varied sample of it's more curious and/or popular items. We had spotted the pork buns on another customer's table, and we were "sold, American". The bun was doughy, yes, but lighter and airier than expected. The pork was rich and "bacony" and fatty and tender and, with whatever tangy-spicy-sweet chili sauce they put on it, and the pickled cucumber and cilantro (the herb of 2010, trust me!), was a nice way to start the meal. It was a pleasant carnival of flavors on the tongue without becoming heavy once it went down the gullet.



Since I knew I was going to eventually order the Fatty Dog—and after Trixie and I were so easily convinced to order the Fatty Duck it was laughable!—we decided to round out the whole experience with something from the sea: The Singaporean Black Pepper Mussels.



Even though Trixie wasn't, by default, a fan of mussels, she seemed to literally enjoy just as many as I did, noting likewise that the sinus-clearing spicy broth was better tempered by the thick pieces of toast the manager recommended we accompany our dish with. There were an ample number of them as well, so we decided pause halfway through the bowl to save room for the reason we were there, the Fatty Dog.



This thing was outrageously good! described as a "pork sausage (with belachan, pickled garlic and XO sauce) with pickled chiles, garlic, radish, cilantro (!!) and cucumbers on a potato roll", with the added unmentioned of some kind and cool, garlicky aioli, this can most accurately be described as a banh mí version of a hot dog. As Trixie cleverly noted, editing my 100-word a voce review to a succinct accolade: "it was the perfect combination of a lot of great flavors, textures, and temperatures."

We, at one point, were giggling at how good the dog was and how we couldn't stop stabbing back at the plate it was on. (They always say a good sign of a good meal is when everyone stops talking; for me, it's when I don't even stop/think to take photos of the food while I'm eating it!

But wait; there's more! We also, laughingly enough, ordered the Fatty Duck (I don't know what are fatty heads were thinking), which arrived at center table looking so tasty and plentiful I thought at first that the Fatty Crab staff were mocking us.



The duck was trisected; Trixie and I each took an end piece of breast with some rice. If you've never had crispy duck skin, then the best I can offer is to imagine the best of crispy pig and/or chicken skin, then multiply it by five.

And what was really great about this duck is that the crispy skin part wasn't just a thin slice of cracklin' heaven. No no. It was pork rind think, slathered in that sticky-spicy-sweet sauce, and giving comfy shelter to a likewise think, juicy, firm-but-tender hunk of ducky goodness. It was like two separate dishes in one; one bite was just skin, one bit was just meat.

Trixie and I were happy and full, as I asked for a doggy bag for the remaining mussels and duck (The Fatty Dog had been completely obliterated!). We were finally done.... HA! Or so we thought. The manager, Dave (I believe his name was), brought us out some panna cotta with coconut and nuts. Are you kidding me! And, it was on the house. I guess all my talking did us some good!, I was thinking of gloating to Trixie. That was until I just happende to catch, and watch, old school New York City comedy god (and tenured member of LAW & ORDER: SVU, Richard Belzer walk right by our table.

Funny how someone like me—a Native New Yorker, who spent a lifetime being used to seeing random celebrities strolls the sidewalks of Manhattan—became so tongue-tied that all I could utter as he passed by, staring right at me was, "Hey...". He was cool though, responding, "How's it going? Enjoy your dinner!" Trixie smiled knowingly at the ironic humor at my sudden lack of words.

It was time to pay up and head on to our movie. I hit the bathroom, which had it's own sense of humor with the circus-like red light, magazine cutout wallpaper, and the speakers playing weird voices and noises while you were inside, making the people outside the bathroom wonder what the hell the occupant was up to. Especially by this point, where the restaurant started to get crowded.



Trixie and I saw THE INFORMANT in a half full theater that included Caroline Rhea, another comic, as one of its patrons. And although the movie was only funny in parts—and in theory—than as a whole, and even though the two Spanish ladies who spoke to each other throughout the film obviously had never known the concept of whispering, and even though the the older lady in front of us fell asleep and proceeded to snore loudly, it was still one of the most pleasurable and enjoyable nights of the year.

Funny that....

Bun Apple Tea!


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Fatty Crab | 2170 Broadway (at 77th St.) | 212.496.2722 | Reserve Now | fattycrab.com | |