Hong Kong’s five best places for hairy crab
These highly-prized crustaceans are served in casseroles, stir-fried and, of course, straight from the shell
Hairy crab season is well underway with several restaurants around town offering these small but highly prized crustaceans until late November or early December.
Until November 8, Man Wah, the fine dining Cantonese restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong offers over 15 Shanghainese hairy crab dishes to choose from, such as Chinese wine-marinated crab, stir-fried crystal prawn with crabmeat, and crabmeat wonton and chicken in casserole.
However, many hairy crab connoisseurs prefer extracting the meat straight from the shell, which is where Lin Gangli comes in.
As captain of Cheng Long Hang Crab Palace Restaurant in Shanghai, Lin is at Man Wah to help relieve diners of the tricky task of having to take apart the crab – and she deftly does it in three minutes.
Lin explains there are three steps involved: the first is to cut off all the legs, followed by opening the shell to scrape off the roe, and then remove the remaining meat. She even makes the cuts so that it’s easy for diners to extract the meat from the legs.
Even though she cracks open around 30 crabs per day using scissors and other tools, she still likes to eat them with her hands, and prefers male crabs for their roe.
“Now is the best season to eat hairy crabs, from early September to around November. Female crabs are good now, but later on the males will have more roe,” Lin says.
Dipping the crabmeat into vinegar is a must, she advises, along with drinking ginger tea afterwards to clear the mouth of the fishy smell, and add more “heat”, as eating crabs have a cooling effect on the body.
When asked how long it took to master the art of extracting meat from the hairy crab within three minutes, Lin explains that doing it everyday for six months helped, and she has passed on tips to the staff at Man Wah.
25/F, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road, Central, tel: 2825 4003
3/F, The Mira Hong Kong, 118 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2315 5222
Dong Lai Shun
Basement 2, The Royal Garden, 69 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, tel: 2733 2020
Lai Bun Fu
5/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, tel: 2564 3868
Hoi King Heen
B2/F, InterContinental Grand Stanford, 70 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, tel: 2731 2883