Gets Real: Single mom chef brings bold Southeast Asian seafood flavors to Seattle, Lumen Field

A local chef is filling a gap in Seattle’s food scene, bringing a fusion of Singapore-Indonesian food to the table, and even shaking up the flavors available at Lumen Field.

Virginia Rachel Ranti, or better known as Chef V, is the founder of Marimakan Crabhouse and Marimakan Seattle. She’s a North Sound single mom who is just starting to carve out her culinary path in the seafood scene.

Dungeness crabs are a Pacific Northwest specialty, but you’re not going to find plain old butter and garlic with Chef V.

“Tonight I’m going to make a Singapore crab,” Ranti said. “They’re black pepper crabs, a mala curry crab, and also an Indonesian padang sauce.”

Chef V is from Indonesia but grew up in Singapore. She likes to blend the flavors she ate growing up, sometimes combining them to create her own unique dishes that can also feel familiar.

KIRO 7 caught up with her as she was making a crab boil, with three crabs, two pounds of shrimp, four eggs, potatoes, and coconut rice.

“This brings me a lot of joy, sharing it with people,” Chef V said. You can order her locally-sourced crab dishes online, where she also offers private catering events.

“I work with boats directly to hand-pick the crabs,” she said.

She also does pop-ups at breweries and events, where the fare isn’t as crab-focused, but still is inspired by the flavors of her home.

Chef V launched her own business during the pandemic, after work from her catering job disappeared. It all started out of her home in Lynnwood.

“I have a kid to feed so I was like obviously I have to try something,” she said.

She says then she realized there’s a gap in the food scene, particularly with Southeast Asian seafood.

“I don’t really see it and I was really surprised,” Chef V said. “So I was thinking hey why not introduce Singapore chili crab?”

The flavors are big and full of umami, bringing in additional depth with fermented seafood.

“Marimakan means ‘let’s eat.’ Mari means ‘let’s’ and ‘makan’ means ‘eat’,” Ranti said.

She says one of her favorite parts about serving crab is that families can really turn the meal into an occasion.

“You get to enjoy slowly eating it, talking about the flavor, joking, laughing,” Ranti said.

Another place you can find Marimakan Seattle and Chef V is at Lumen Field. She started shaking things up there during the last Seahawks season and is there for most home games.

“Oh my God, it was like a dream come true. I’m not going to lie I was lowkey very proud – because like who gets that?” Chef V said. “I’m only selling Indonesian, Malaysian, southeast Asian food. Not like pizza or burgers,” Ranti said.

Marimakan Seattle is either on the main level at the marketplace, or downstairs at the night market. She’s dishing up easier to eat food like Singapore chili clam chowder, gyoza, and a chicken and rice bowl with sambal.

And Seahawks fans are savoring the selection.

“They did a great job diversifying what were able to eat at the stadiums,” said Shelly Short, a Hawks fan.

“Seattle stands out because we don’t have just your basic chicken nuggets and fries. We have fish we have different cultures who come together, who want to create this beautiful environment,” said Jack Battin, another Seahawks fan.

Chef V is spinning a lot of plates – she’s also working on a sambal chili crisp that people can order, because she says it’s such a hit at Lumen Field.

“People are so excited – they’re like the sambal is so spicy but it’s so good. And they’ll come back after the break being like, ‘can I have the sambal more?’” Ranti said.

Ranti says her dream is to open up a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the future.

“I’m working with crab boats right now, so maybe have a tank in my restaurant – so it’s from boat to tank to table,” Chef V said, with a big grin.

The easiest way to find out where Marimakan Seattle is popping up next is through her Instagram page.