When I first heard of ‘Hairy Crab‘, I imagined it to be a shelled creature with lots of hair all over the body. Yes, I have to admit this was my first time seeing, touching, feeling and eating a Hairy Crab. In fact, it looked just like any other type of crab, except that it’s much smaller, and with hairy legs. I had the privilege to taste the seasonal hairy crabs at Shanghai Restaurant in J.W. Marriott hotel.
Interior of Shanghai Restaurant, J.W. Marriott
Apparently, hairy crabs are only available during the autumn season in China, where the sky is blue and the air is crisp. It’s also the weather when the hairy crabs are most succulent and delicious. This delicate crustacean is only available from the ninth to eleventh months in the Chinese lunar calendar. Shanghai Restaurant, being the only hotel Chinese restaurant in KL that specializes in exquisite Shanghai cuisine, is proud to create several palatable dishes made from hairy crab. We were lucky to be there on the day they restocked the hairy crabs! Look at their fridge!
Hairy Crab new stock in the fridge!
Raw Shanghainese hairy crab
Closer look at the hairs
After taking a look at the crabs, we were fascinated and couldn’t wait to taste it!
We started with the Steamed Shanghainese Hairy Crabs, which looked pretty small compared to the average crab size. But just look at the amount of roe inside!
Steamed Shanghainese Hairy Crab (market price)
Exquisite hairy crab from Shanghai
With the small size of a crab, it is expected to have less meat compared to the usual, but its prized possession is really the roe. Rich and semi-liquid, it tasted a little like salted egg yolk but with crab goodness. Really, it’s something that you have to taste to feel it.
Luxurious Crab roe
The waiters served the crabs very delicately and professionally. After serving us the carapace, they used the scissors to cut off the legs and pincers and served them on another plate. So very meticulous, don’t you think? The meat was just bite-size but sweet and tender.
Crab legs and pincers on a plate
Hairy crab is supposed to have a ‘cooling’ effect to our body, whereby excessive amount of it would lead to fainting or dizziness. Therefore, a glass of warm ginger tea was served to counter the ‘cooling’ effect of the crabs. And this tea was refilled unlimited times, too! Saucer and I both loved the tea!
After savouring the steamed hairy crabs, we were served some dishes creatively carved from Hairy Crabs. But before that, some vegetarian appetizers!
Cold jelly fish
Deep fried vegetarian dish
Deep fried vegetarian eel
The first Hairy Crab inspired dish was the Steamed Shanghainese dumplings with hairy crab meat and roe, which was one of my favourite. The dumpling skin was ever so thin and delicate, that it looked too fragile for me to even hold it with chopsticks. But the waiter served us a dumpling each, so skilfully, without a single tear. And I popped the whole dumpling, soup and crab meat, into my mouth – to be brought to heaven and back. Really, there’s no other way to describe the feeling and you simply have to put the whole dumpling into the mouth to experience this delight. The broth was really sweet with the essence of crab, while the crab meat and roe added so much richness to the whole combination. Very well done.
Steamed Shanghainese dumplings with hairy crab meat and roe (RM11/pc)
The next one was Fried bamboo fish fillets with hairy crab meat and roe, where I found the fish fillet to be very smooth and flaky. Coupling the fresh fish with the hairy crab meat and roe was very complementary. The fish with its firm texture but bland taste, plus the crab roe’s soft texture but rich flavour. Yummy!
Fried bamboo fish fillets with hairy crab meat and roe (RM25/pc)
Next, we had something out of the hairy crab menu, which was Stir Fried Beef fillet with Scallion. Even though simple, this dish impressed our taste buds – the beef fillet was extremely tender and juicy. Master Chef Wong said that the controlling of the heat of wok during the cooking of this dish was imperative to ensure the beef to reach its perfect texture and taste.
Stir fried beef fillet with Scallion
The Stir-fried Shanghainese glutinous rice cakes with hairy crab meat and roe reminded me of the rice cakes I had in Korea. It had the exact same texture and taste, but this was shaped flat and cooked with different sauce. It’s also called ‘nian gao’ in Mandarin. On its own, it has a chewy texture with no taste, but cooking it with hairy crab meat and roe brought the rice cakes to a different dimension altogether. The taste was elevated a few notches, whereby the richness of the crab roe surrounded the rice cakes so well that you couldn’t help but to take one piece after another. Addictive!
Stir-fried Shanghainese glutinous rice cakes with hairy crab meat and roe (RM88)
Stir-fried vegetables with garlic
The glorious spread of Hairy Crab inspired dishes were all thanks to Master Chef Wong Wing Yeuk who originated from Shanghai and spent a good number of years in Hong Kong. Hence, he was able to converse in Cantonese pretty fluently! The Chef brought in lots of authentic Shanghainese dishes to Malaysia, at the same time tweaking the dishes to capture the local’s taste buds.
Master Chef Wong Wing Yeuk originated from Shanghai
After dinner, we had desserts! Of all the desserts we had, I particularly loved the Deep Fried Bun with Custard and Egg Yolk filling or ‘lau sar pau’ in Cantonese. It was my first time having this delicacy and my gosh, where was it hiding all this while?
Mango dessert with sago and pomelo (Yeung Ji Kam Lou )
Deep fried sesame balls
The bun was deep fried to perfection, with a crispy layer of skin outside and warm and soft interior. Splitting the bun in two, I could see the glorious yellow custard and egg yolk filling oozing out from within, piping hot and oh-so-fragrant. It was definitely an experience to remember and a taste that I certainly will not forget! A highly recommended piece of art from Shanghai restaurant, you simply have to try this out!
Deep fried bun with custard and egg yolk filling
Glorious custard and egg yolk oozing out
For the health conscious, there’s also the steamed version available, with the same glorious filling.
Steamed bun with egg yolk and custard filling
Dinner was made more enjoyable with pleasant company such as sweet Esther.
Esther and witch
Shanghai Restaurant at J.W. Marriott
The Shanghai Hairy Crab promotion is currently available until 30th November 2010.
Level 1, J.W. Marriott Kuala Lumpur
183 Jalan Bukit Bintang,
55100 Kuala Lumpur,
Contact no.: +603-2719 8288
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday (12-2.30pm, 6.30-10.30pm), Sunday & Public Holiday (10.30am-2.30pm)