Friday, 30 June 2017

(The Star) Glorious seafood, no cutlery

Eating shellfish with your hands is somewhat a satisfying process.

Perhaps it is the feeling of cracking a crab claw to reveal the juicy flesh, peeling the shell off a whole prawn in one pull, or tasting the sauce dripping off my fingers while the crustacean’s flavour lingers on the palate.

Dining without cutlery is unusual but at the Shell Out Seafood Restaurant, it is practically celebrated.

We dined at the Kota Damansara restaurant and the experience was fun.

The dishes, separated in bags, were brought to us in a bucket and served on a sheet of paper covering the table as no plates are needed here.

The crabs prepared with the Shell Bang sauce with an ‘OMG’ level of spiciness is a personal favourite.

We kept clean by wearing a bib but our hands immediately got messy digging into a variety of shellfish.

What worked up my appetite were the crabs prepared with the Shell Bang sauce with an addictive flavour termed “OMG” – the most spicy offering on the menu.

The tender crab flesh was complemented by the fiery gravy that also goes great with warm rice or garlic bread.

We had clams in the “curry curry” sauce that unlike the regular curry flavour, has an added peppery taste that made it pretty fragrant.

To simmer down the spiciness, we tried the prawns and giant scallops cooked with butter garlic sauce.

If you order crawfish, chances are you will leave with a new skill as waiters will equip you with the most effective peeling method and you will get the hang of it after working on three or four crawfish.

Anyone who dines at Shell Out will get a crash course from the server on the most effective way to peel a crawfish.

Shell Out founders, husband and wife team Derick Yap and Candy Kwok created five distinct sauces including lemon pepper, butter garlic, black pepper, curry curry and Shell Bang which is a mix of lemon pepper and butter garlic.

“Shell Bang is our signature and customers’ favourite, and it matches anything really.

“Some of the richer flavours go well with the hard shell crustaceans while the milder sauces work on prawns and scallops so as to not overwhelm the freshness of the shellfish,” he said.

Yap, who was based in California with his wife, chose to venture into the food and beverage business here upon returning from the US in 2012.

“When I came back to Malaysia for holidays, I just felt it was right to open a seafood shop of this concept as it was not very known then,” shared Yap.

Yap said his wife’s love for seafood also spurred him to venture into the seafood-restaurant business.

The squid with lemon pepper. The small size lets you plop each one into your mouth easily.

The couple opened their first restaurant in Kota Damansara in June 2013 out of a whim, where they designed the recipes and manned the kitchen as well as floor operations, all while Kwok was pregnant.

“It wasn’t easy but you can say we learned along the way, and a lot of things just sort of fell into place for us – the food, the restaurant decor and the way we run our business.

“Things were slow to pick up at first and we’ve even considered closing it at one point, until a few celebrities dined here and shared their experience on social media – that was a game changer,” said Yap.

Today, Shell Out is managed by Yap together with his family members and they now run five eateries. There are plans to open two more restaurants.

Shell Out is also located at Setia Alam, G Village in Kuala Lumpur, Publika and Putrajaya Ayer 8.

SHELL OUT SEAFOOD RESTAURANT,16-1, Jalan Pju 5/15, Dataran Sunway, Kota Damansara, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. (Tel: 03-7497 1137). Business hours: 11am to 10pm (Sunday to Thursday), 11am to 11pm (weekend and public holiday eve).

This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.