It's an institution in Hong Kong. It is as the cliche goes: tried and tested. It is also a great bet, as I've learnt, to get modern renditions of traditional tastes from the Shanghai region without feeling like you've sold out. And the late-ish Friday night craving for a hairy crab set menu didn't disappoint. Set A, that is. Yes, it's more expensive but it was good value compared with my similar hairy crab meal at nearby Shanghai Min a couple of weeks ago.
|Braised Hairy crab and Sharks' Fin|
Un-politically correct but a nice way to warm the soul after sitting at a freezing salon for 3 hours. Not the best bowl of fins I've had but it was generous for the crab roe and tasted more like roe soup than sharks fin. With a dash of vinegar, we were off to a good start.
|Stir fried hairy crab on steamed glutinous rice with stir fried Dou Miao|
|Hairy Crab Xiao Long Bao|
My trick for eating the XLB without sacrificing the soup is to actually nip a little hole at the top, pour in some vinegar, then pour all the liquid onto a spoon and drink. I devour the rest slowly. Not the most traditional way, but hey, I get the goodness first then decide if I want to even eat the rest. For the record, I finished this one.
|The real McCoy|
|Glutinous rice balls with a sweet sesame filling in ginger broth|
To finish, a typical dessert of glutinous rice balls stuffed with a sweet sesame molten paste hits the spot. Although the skin was not thin and chewy, the filling was pretty good and made up for a thick, powdery skin. Ginger broth was milder than the last cuppa ginger tea, which had enough heat to chase any Yin-ness away from the crab.
Yes, Chinese believe hairy crabs are extremely Yin by nature and so to harmonise the body during and after consumption, a lot of ginger is introduced (in sauces, teas, and desserts). What we didn't order at this eat-and-run was an aged bottle of Huadiao, a Chinese yellow wine typically consumed with preserved plums, which also provides enough Yang-ness to balance. And for those who are dying to ask, no, dining with a male companion is not enough.
Unit B, 17/F, Lee Theatre Plaza
99 Percival Street