The posters for exotic and fanciful mooncakes has given way for another autumn Chinese delicacy, stroll into a hotel lobby like the Marina Mandarin or Shangri-la and you will begin to recognize small little crabs other than the Sri Lankan or flower crabs we are accustomed to see in our tropical city. The Chinese Mitten Crabs, also known as Hairy Crabs are the next seasonal craze now in the Chinese cuisine world after the mooncake season. These petite looking crabs are highly prized for their roe and so popular that there is a vending machine dispensing live hairy crabs in Nanjing.
Thus went the opportunity arises with an invitation from Wan Hao Restaurant showcasing the versatility of this ingredient, I was grateful for the chance to try it for myself.
Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel’s Wan Hao Restaurant has come up with a Hairy Crab Grandeur Menu, a 6-course menu featuring the crab (except for the dessert). The first course was a trio of appetizers namely:
Steamed Crab Meat Dumpling, Steamed Hairy Crab Xiao Long Bao and Deep-Fried Hairy Crab Ball
三星蟹子饺, 蟹粉小笼包, 棋子大闸蟹枣
Among the three, my favourite was the Steamed Crab Meat Dumpling which has a delicate balance of flavours and textures from the crab meat and condiments. This is unlike the Deep-Fried Hairy Crab Ball where the crab meat was overpowered by the almond garnish. I ate the xiaolongbao a little too late, perhaps it turned out to be a little dry as a result.
Steamed Hairy Crab Xiao Long Bao
Steamed Crab Meat Dumpling
Deep-Fried Hairy Crab BallHairy Crab Meat and Roe Broth with Bamboo Pith | Good
This was enjoyable, I was expecting a strong tasting broth but it turned out to be rather subtle with a depth of flavours, the crab flavours form a kind of background with hints of hairy crab meat, bamboo pith and vegetables for variation of textures.
Baked Whole Hairy Crab with Shao Xin Chinese Wine | Good
This is the star of the show and what you are basically here for. Eating it is quite tedious for a first-timer but fret not, the staff at Wan Hao are very helpful and friendly in guiding you on how to enjoy this autumn delicacy. Once you clear that hurdle, just aim for the liquid gold here: the roe. Rich, creamy and savoury, this was really good.
Before the crab was served, a really strong ginger tea was being served first. The "heat" from the ginger tea is to compensate for the "cooling" effect from consumption of the hairy crabs.
Fresh Milk Stir-Fried Hairy Crab Meat with Egg White and Shrimp Roe | Excellent
This is quite a unique dish and easily one of my favourites for the evening. This simple looking dish is best enjoyed with the rice vinegar provided which accentuates the sweetness of the hairy crab meat. This was accompanied with a bed of crispy fried crackers and crunchy broccoli by the side to balance the thick creaminess of the dish. The rice vinegar itself was sourced from Lake Tai area in China.
Wok-Fried Rice with Hairy Crab Meat, Fish Roe and Diced Mushroom | Excellent
Just solid good, the rice was very fragrant with a nice smoky flavour and mixed that in a with hairy crab meat, fish roe with provides an interesting texture, sliced asparagus for crunch as well as dice mushrooms with an additional unami flavour. Not bad at all.
Coconut Sago with Japanese Sweet Purple Potato | Excellent
The way Wan Hao serves this, it is difficult to eat this. It was as if it is to remind us how tedious it was to savour the hairy crab. Nonetheless, don’t let that stop you from enjoying this amazing combination. The very rich sweet purple potato went very well with the sago and coconut milk, it is refreshing to see something beyond the usual mango sago or almond jelly and this was not only new but tasty too.
The Hairy Crab Grandeur Set Menus go for 98++ to 108++ SGD per person (minimum 2). Marriott Club Member are entitled for a flat 20% discount. Other Hairy Crab items not mentioned here include Hairy Crab Meat Broth with Conpoy & Hashima, Steamed Whole Hairy Crab with Shiso Leaf as well as Baked Hairy Crab with Cheese. The promotion lasts from October to November.
Thank you Eileen from Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel for the hospitality and invitation!
Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel
320 Orchard Road