Dining

Award-Winning Ministry of Crab Opens in the Philippines

Here's your first look at the lauded Sri Lankan seafood concept that has consistently ranked on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list.
IMAGE COURTESY OF SHANGRI-LA AT THE FORT
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Seafood lovers will be thrilled to know the acclaimed crustacean restaurant Ministry of Crab has chosen Manila to house its second brick-and-mortar branch outside its original location in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Since opening in 2015, the Sri Lankan dining concept has consistently ranked among Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, having recently taken the 25th spot. After a whirlwind of a past year, the Ministry of Crab opens at Shangri-La at the Fort.


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As mysterious as its name sounds, the only enigmatic element about the Ministry of Crab is the dimly lit hallway leading to the staircase that takes you down to a large dining space that seats over 120 people. 

Each of the three branches is distinct from the other. Ministry of Crab Manila is decidedly the most posh of the three, given the premium space it was offered at the luxury hotel. Still, co-owner Kumar Sangakkara and his partners insist it isn’t a fine dining restaurant. He encourages the guests that evening to use their bare hands to handle the crabs. 

Its name alone reflects the exceptional crab dishes coming straight from the kitchen of chef Dharshan Munidasa. Those well-versed in the who’s who of the culinary industry may recognize Munidasa from his earlier work—he founded Nihonbashi, another 50 Best listing, at the beginning of his career and now also owns The Tuna & The Crab and Kaema Sutra. Four years ago, he founded the Ministry of Crab together with cricket players Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

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Hanging on the wall is a guide to crab sizes, ranging from the smallest half-kilo crab to the two-kilogram Crabzilla. Diners will easily know what’s available when the life-size representation of the crab is lit on the board. All the crabs are never chilled and must be consumed within the day to ensure their freshness. 

They are then prepared in one of six ways on the Philippines menu: Pepper Crab, Garlic Chili Crab, Chili Crab, Curry Crab, Butter Crab, Pinakurat Crab, and Guinataang Crab. While the crabs are sourced locally, the restaurant’s bestselling Pepper Crab gets its flavor from Sri Lanka’s celebrated black pepper. The recipe uses hand crushed peppercorns, whole peppercorns, and pepper stock to season the crab.


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The Pepper Crab


Curry Prawns

Ministry of Crab is known to host pop-ups around the world. While the team had never done one in the Philippines, it was when they were sourcing for a regional pop-up that they discovered Philippine crabs that rivaled their world-famous lagoon crab, says public relations manager Shalini Canagasabey. 

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The Philippine menu has its own stars that veer away from the original selection: for starters, a Crab Sisig dish with calamansi juice, topped with a sunny side up quail egg. Then there are sides like Adobong Sitaw and Pakbet. For dessert, there’s an Agar-Agar Jelly served with Philippine mangoes and a homemade mangga’t suman ice cream.


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Crab Sisig


Shangri-La at the Fort's resident mixologist has crafted special cocktails to be enjoyed with Ministry of Crab's menu

To start, we recommend the Baked Crab, a risotto variation with a generous helping of crab meat, followed by the Japanese-style clams. The cubes of Kade, or Sri Lankan street bread, taste great once they soak up the seafood sauces, so it’s a worthwhile choice to have on the side. Move on to a river prawn with your choice of cooking style, then follow that up with your choice of crab. Finish the meal off with Pistachio Kulfi, a traditional ice cream that has a hint of cardamom.

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Baked Crab


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Agar-agar Jelly with fresh Philippine Mangoes

Ministry of Crab, Shangri-La at the Fort, 30th Street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City

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About The Author
Hannah Lazatin
Features Editor
Hannah is originally from Pampanga and from a big, close-knit family who likes to find a reason to get together at the dinner table. Experiences inspire her. “Once, at a restaurant, I received an interpretation of my second name ‘Celina,’ and it meant 'someone who tries everything once' and that is me through and through,” she says. As for the job, she wants her “readers to be inspired by the stories of the people we feature and to move them to reach for greater things.”
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