The hairy crab seasonal special is back! Find out where it comes from, how to eat it, and most of all...where to eat it.
Crab-loading is real. Indeed, every year between Mid-Autumn Festival and American Thanksgiving is the amazing harvest season for Shanghainese hairy crabs, freshwater crustaceans that come from lakes in the Jiangsu province, and more recently, from a new crop in Hokkaido, Japan. With the highest demand coming from all over China and surrounding regions, these fresh crabs are no longer limited to a crop from the famous Yangcheng Lake, but also raised and sourced from neighbouring freshwater lakes such as Lake Tai. The hairy crab, though smaller in size compared to the Japanese Kegani crab and Alaskan King Crab, is popular for its light-tasting flesh and scrumptious coral. The crabs are generally steamed and served hot, though an equally popular means is to pick the meat and coral to add to other dishes.
The hairy crab may be celebrated for its freshness, but according to Chinese medicine beliefs the hairy crab is considered a cold-nature food, which should be served with a warm beverage such as hot ginger tea to relieve the accumulation of cold energy from within the body. Huadiao wine, a traditional Chinese yellow wine made from glutinous rice, is also a pleasant alternative. To celebrate the peak of hairy crab harvests, here are some of the best places to enjoy these seasonal beauties.
Jia Group’s Chinese restaurant Duddell’s begin its hairy crab season offerings featuring hairy crabs grown and harvested in Hokkaido, Japan, with an array of a la carte specials such as pan-fried stuffed lotus root cake with hairy crab coral; pan-fried stuffed tiger prawn with minced shrimp and hairy crab coral; and seasonal vegetables with hairy crab coral and egg whites. Alternatively, guests can indulge in the restaurant’s six-course hairy crab tasting menu with a sake flight, featuring labels curated by resident sommelier Derek Li. The menu showcases hairy crab coral in an appetiser combination, a pan-fried garoupa dish, and braised rice noodles in ishinabe, topped with creamy crab coral, as well as a steamed whole Hokkaido hairy crab. The six-course dinner menu is available from October 25 to end of November, priced at HK$1,388 per person with an additional HK$680 per person for the sake flight.
Duddell’s, 3/F-4/F, 1 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2525 9191
See also: Halloween Happenings in Hong Kong
YING JEE CLUB
Two Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant Ying Jee Club debuts a sensational hairy crab menu showcasing the best execution from the restaurant’s executive chef Siu Hin-Chi. The seven-course menu highlights a steamed whole hairy crab (300 grams each) sourced from Yangcheng Lake and served with sweetened Zhenjiang vinegar. Other hairy crab delights include braised Tianjin cabbage with hairy crab meat and fish maw; braised Inaniwa noodle with hairy crab meat and steamed seafood dumpling with hairy crab and caviar. Ying Jee Club’s hairy crab menu is available from now until end of November.
Ying Jee Club, Shops G05, 107-108 Nexxus Building, 41 Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2801 6882
GREATER CHINA CLUB
The freshwater crabs take centre stage in Greater China Club’s celebration. Harvested from Jiangsu and shipped directly to ensure freshness, the Chinese restaurant’s Golden Autumn Hairy Crab Set Menu brings nine courses, from steamed hairy crab paired with Xian Heng 25-year vintage Huadiao wine to a signature steamed Xiao Long Bao with hairy crab roe, traditional staples. Other highlights include a chilled hairy crab roe jelly with Huadiao and soy sauce; pan-fried Japanese scallop with hairy crab roe; and homemade noodles with scallion, hairy crab roe, and soft boiled egg, among many, as well as a series of a la carte hairy crab dishes. Greater China Club’s hairy crab menu is available from now until the end of November, priced at HK$888 per person with a minimum order for two.
Greater China Club, Unit A, 10/F, D2 Place One, 9 Cheung Yee Street, Lai Chi Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong; +852 2743 8055
W Hong Kong’s Chinese restaurant launches a brand new hairy crab and Nikka Whisky pairing menu, presented throughout exclusive evenings this autumn. Available from now until November 30, Sing Yin’s Chinese executive chef Johnny Chan presents six courses in his ‘Crabalicious Whisky Feast’, showcasing Chan’s braised seafood broth with bird’s nest and hairy crab roe; sauteed king prawn with crab meat and hairy crab roe; and a classic baked crab stuffed with crab meat, onions, and hairy crab roe. The seasonal hairy crab delicacies are paired with five Nikka Whiskies, including a Miyagikyo Single Malt Whisky Umeshu Highball as a welcome drink, together with Nikka Coffey Gin / Nikka Premium Blended Whisky 12 Years and Yoichi Single Malt Whisky & Nikka Coffey Malt Penicillin, among others. The six-course hairy crab menu is available daily from now until end of November, priced at HK1,280 per person.
Sing Yin Cantonese Dining, 1/F, W Hong Kong, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, Hong Kong; +852 3717 2848
THE LEGACY HOUSE
Rosewood Hong Kong’s The Legacy House marks the return of hairy crabs with chef Li Chi-Wai’s magnificently crafted dishes featuring the meat and coral of the seasonal crustaceans sourced from Lake Tai. The coveted crabs are the season’s piece de resistance featured in Li’s six-course set menu. Highlights include a steamed Shanghainese pork dumpling with hairy crab cream; steamed egg whites with lobster and hairy crab cream, and braised green bean noodles with hairy crab cream and Alba white truffles. The six-course menu is priced at HK$2,680 per person with a two-day advanced reservation.
The Legacy House, 5/F, Rosewood Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong; +852 3891 8732
This autumn, Maximal Concepts’ Mott 32 presents a new seasonal hairy crab set menu designed and developed by resident executive Chinese chef Man-Sing Lee. The new menu showcases the crustaceans’ freshness and unctuous coral in an array of Shanghainese-inspired dishes, including hairy crab roe and minced pork soup dumpling; hairy crab claw with hawthorn jelly; hairy crab roe soup and gac fruit; and a 225-gram steamed whole hairy crab, among other hairy crab dishes and two desserts designed specially for the menu. Mott 32’s hairy crab menu is available from November 1 to 15, and is priced at HK$1,380 per person with an optional wine pairing for HK$480 per person.
Mott 32, Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4-4A Des Voeux Rd Central, Central, +852 2885 8688