Let me tell you the story of the best crab I’ve eaten in my life. Twice. Lol.
In Banda Aceh, just across from the Medan Hotel, there is a little area of food stalls under a pavilion. Down the back of this cluster, directly across the road from the Selera Kita Restaurant, stands a stall that sells Mie Aceh and Mie Aceh Kepiting (Acehnese Crab Noodles) at night. The thing that drew me to this little stall in the dark was the case of live crabs out the front being filled up out of a fishing net as I walked past. Fresh!
While I was waiting for my crab and noodles I got talking to another woman waiting for crab. She wasn’t wearing a jilbab (Muslim headscarf) that all Muslim women in Aceh must wear. I later learned she was from Medan but living in Aceh for work. She insisted on paying for my noodles and crab to welcome me to Aceh. She was very forceful so I had no choice but to accept the offer!
When my noodles and crab were out of the frying wok and wrapped up in brown paper and banana leaf, sealed in a bundle with an elastic band, I went back to my hotel. Without any cutlery (or even a table) in my budget room, I sat squatting on the floor with my paper, eating the noodles and crab with my fingers. So kampungan!
The crab was just beautiful. So flavourful with loads of juicy meat, and obviously beautifully fresh. The noodles were fantastic as well, with a thick spicy gravy dotted with little seeds. Rumor goes that they use marijuana seeds in these noodles, so maybe that’s why I loved it so much? lol
The next night I went back a second time and complemented the owner of the stall on how delicious the crab and noodles were. I was paid back for my praise with the most gigantic crab in the case… seriously this crab was not meant for one person.
Back in my hotel room again that night, the crab was just as delicious, but so huge that I barely managed to eat it! Its crabby legs were sticking out of the little black plastic bag used by food stall vendors all around Indonesia. But once again, an amazing meal, even though it was eaten in the most unpretentious of circumstances.