555 Jiujiang Lu (???555?)
My team and I went out for my birthday lunch celebration.. and what better way to celebrate than with HAIRY CRABS?!?!? Well, that sounds dodgy and rather scary, but eating hairy crabs are all the rage here in China.. especially because my birthday falls right on hairy crab season 🙂 I’ve never had hair crabs before, so was particularly interested and scared. Because in the first place, I’m not a fan of tackling crab – pulling ’em apart and digging at it, just for a teeny bit of meat? NOT satisfying! Plus, I don’t like all the weird crab bits.. unidentified bits of ‘stuff’ in their bodies.
So the thought of eating hairy crabs both really frightened yet excited me.. because I was really keen to see what the fuss was all about. I heard that a few years back, the government actually banned eating hairy crabs because the locals ate so many they were eating them extinct – heh! But people here go nuts over them and so I was eager to try it out.
Wang Bao He (???) is THE famous restaurant for hairy crab in Shanghai.
Opened in 1744, it also is apparently Shanghai’s oldest restaurant.
It also is one of the most expensive.
And so that triple whammy made it the choice of restaurant for my birthday celebration. We eagerly trooped over there and ordered up a storm of dishes. The funny thing? Every dish was yellow. At a glance, it was the most boring meal ever, because everything was the same colour. It’s cos EVERY dish had crab, crab, and more crab in it!
The food was just divine. Fantastic creamy and tasty crab – so packed with flavour. Despite all the dishes having crab in it, I didn’t get sick of it at all.
Us, all ready to tuck in
The restaurant – it was huge
Assorted cold dishes. I took a small piece of the pigeon (top-left)
but it was a bit too weird for me.. it was OK though, like chicken.
Steamed dumplings with steamed pork and crab meat – this was luscious!!
Braised bean curd with crab meat
Stewed shredded sea cucumber with crab meat
Sauteed scallops with crab meat
Fried rice with crab meat
Sauteed vegetables with crab meat
Then of course, came the crown jewel – the full hairy crab. Each person had 1 each, because they cost 250? (US$37) each for these babies that are smaller than your hand. PRICEY! They arrived, 5 of them standing upright on a plate.. beady eyes ‘looking’ at us.
I was getting really nervous at the thought of having to pull apart and eat the crab. I’ve never done it before and, well, I’m a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to eating “weird” food. After studying how the others ate theirs, I decided to give it a shot, taking a BIG breath because 1) I’m scared of touching weird bits inside the crab and 2) I’m even more scared of eating weird bits inside the crab……..
They bring out the live crabs, for you to inspect and give the nod of approval
All cooked and jaunty looking
IT’S LOOKIN’ AT MEEEEEEE
First, pull of the bottom flap.. it’s a bit white with weird fronds(?!) with black hair
Then flip it over, and pull off the top shell. It should lift off easily.
You eat all that black ‘skin’ and meat there, but not the grey-ish fronds (which are lungs)
Inside is full off orange crab roe, meat, and heaven knows what else…. Frankly, it is a VERY SCARY experience.
But I bit the bullet and made myself not think about it, and it tasted great!!
You dip everything in a dipping sauce of ginger, soy sauce, and black vinegar.
This is my crab – a poor effort. The locals clean theirs perfectly.
All downed with Chinese yellow wine (with a dried prune in it, for some reason)
At the end, you’re served ginger tea, because it’s a “warm” drink..
to counteract the “cool” crab. Something about ying-yang I think..
Sweet Osmanthus Cake – I only ordered it ‘cos it sounded so strange 😉 Tasted good!