Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hong Kong - Benson Cuisine & Wine

Autumn...  hairy crab season!  My first taste of the crustacean this year since I discount the negligible morsel in my xiao long bao.  First taste and no messy peeling necessary.  Benson does a Shanghai Hairy Crab Set Menu this season where it's not quite the traditional way of eating Hairy Crab but uses the crustacean as a basis for a Modern European meal with Italian influences to create a pretty decent dinner.

Shanghai Hairy Crab Set Menu

Seasonal Fresh Oyster (2 pcs)
Prawn Bisque with Shanghai Crab Meat
Shanghai Crab Ravioli with Spicy Tomato Sauce
Shanghai Crab Linguine or Risotto
Ginger Soufflé
Ginger Tea

At HK$680 per person, it's pretty good value since there are quite a few courses, and at least 3 of which come with the crustacean.  Here's my take:

1. The oysters were fresh..  but think they weren't the best.  Especially since my recent experience at Casa Fina is still in my mind.

2. The prawn bisque served in a coffee cup, was a very tasty but not heavy concoction just lightly laced with cream.  And there was more than just a couple of pieces of crab in a fairly tight space and the first tastes of the crab meat were that they were firm, sweet and certainly very much this season.

3. The sherbet was forgettable.  Way too creamy to be sherbet for me, and so a tad much.

4. I liked the crab ravioli.  The skin was al dente with the right amount of bite and chewiness, and the crab meat this time was broken down further with bits of crab roe.  Served on a light tomato pureed sauce, there was also a side dish of Zhejiang vinegar with chopped ginger to add a little acidity and heat.

5. My favorite was my choice of the Shanghai Crab Risotto (see pic above).  There was a generous serving of a well sauteed mix of crab meat and roe over a bed of al dente risotto.  So tasty I had to make it last.  So generous I had no problems doing so.  I would have preferred a Japanese sweetish vinegar with this since the Zhejiang vinegar had way too much heat from the aged ginger that they used and interfered with the freshness of the crab after a while.  

6. Ginger souffle and tea were ok, nothing to shout about.  I am not the hugest fan of ginger but since Chinese believe that the hairy crabs have an overly cooling element, one must consume ginger to balance out the "yin" from the crabs.  So I dutifully do so. 

My only complaint to the meal is that since it's supposed to be the season to consumer male crabs, we did not get any male specimen, which we eat for the gelatinous "sperm".  Instead, we only got the orange roe from the females, which aren't quite seasonal until in about 2 to 3 weeks or so, as I'm told.  

Good thing Benson has a supply outlet just across the restaurant that we might just order from.  They steam it for you and deliver for free if you're in the Happy Valley area, complete with the vinegar, and ginger tea.  Tempting for a Sunday dinner this weekend..

No. 12 Sing Woo Road
Happy Valley
Tel: +852-28936900

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