New & noted: Kani Kei, Japanese crab restaurant, less expensive than many – and the grilled shell crab is just fantastic
Recent addition to Macau Yat Yuen Centre in Causeway Bay serves fine-quality seafood and tender abalone, but the crab dishes are the main event – and they didn’t disappoint
Compared to other crab-focused restaurants such as Kanizen (in Wan Chai) and Kanidou Noda (which remains our favourite), Kani Kei is reasonably priced. Sets for two are priced at HK$1,376, HK$1,776 and HK$2,176. There’s also an extensive à la carte selection, in case a nine-course set meal doesn’t fill you up.
The atmosphere is more casual and raucous than the other crab restaurants we’ve visited in Hong Kong. At the entrance is a tankful of crabs (kegani, or hairy crab, and taraba, or king crab) and fresh abalone, with the chefs preparing the seafood in the open area at the back of the restaurant.
The small dish of winter melon with ham and truffle paste was a light, although unexciting way to start the meal. Of the assorted appetisers, only the simmered snails were of interest: the tomato with cheese, egg cake, and burdock with sesame seeds were a bit ordinary.
Things improved immensely with the hairy crab and assorted sashimi course. The seafood – botan ebi (humpback shrimp), two cuts of hamachi (Japanese amberjack), the very fatty belly and leaner back, toro (tuna belly), shima aji (striped horse mackerel) and crab – were of very fine quality. Steamed hairy crab with vinegar dipping sauce and crab miso was a generous portion, and naturally enough, very fresh. Slow cooked abalone was tender and succulent.
Our waitress was unsure of herself when she prepared the grilled king crab, which she cooked table-side (a more experienced member of staff instructed her on what to do). But the results were delicious: the shell-on pieces were moist and slightly smoky. Grilled crab shell with the crab “miso” (the innards) and an egg yolk was also cooked table-side, and was just fantastic: we slathered the warm, gooey mixture over grilled bread.
We also enjoyed the steamed snow crab with rice. Warabi (bracken starch) mochi dusted with kinako (roasted soybean powder) was a light ending to the meal, although some palate-cleaning fruit would have been welcome.
Kani Kei, Basement, Macau Yat Yuen Centre, 525 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2602 1600. About HK$650 to HK$1,080, depending on which set meal you have.