Liu Yuan Pavilion 留園雅敘 - Hairy Crab

Rating: ❤ (4/5)

It's hairy crab season and this was my first crab of the season! My friend had recommended this restaurant for really good crab so the 4 of us had dinner here at 7pm on a Saturday night. The restaurant was conveniently located in the heart of Wan Chai, and the decor was classy and grand with spacious tables and seating. It was still pretty empty at 7pm with only several other tables so the service we received was prompt and fast.

In addition to their regular menu with an array of traditional Shanghai dishes, there was a special yellow menu just for hairy crab dishes. I was expecting to just eat a regular hairy crab but the selections on the crab menu were surprisingly diverse as there were dishes of hairy crab with bean jelly, hairy crab noodles, hairy crab dumpling, etc. The prices were also surprisingly high. We decided to order 2 traditional Shanghainese dishes and 3 hairy crab dishes for our dinner this night. 

Stewed Vegetables with Dried Bean Curd ($90) - this is a classic dish with finely chopped vegetables and dried bean curd. As this was J's favorite Shanghainese dish, our expectations were high and this did not disappoint. The vegetables were flavorful yet light so it was the perfect dish to warm up our appetite for the night. 

Crispy Eels ($120) - one of the best crispy eels I've had! This is actually my favorite Shanghainese appetizer and it's very important to me that the eels are fresh and fried to a nice crunchy state. The eels here were fried perfectly as each eel was crispy and coated with a sweet vinegar sauce. They were addictive to eat and I couldn't help but keep popping one after another in my mouth!

Hairy Crab ($400 each) - onto the star of the night! We had to ask them for the price of the hairy crab as a whole as it wasn't on the crab menu at all. When our waitress informed us that it cost $400 for a 600 gram crab, my eyes popped! I know the price of hairy crab can widely vary from under $100 to over several hundred dollars, but I wasn't sure if the price quoted was reasonable or not. Since we had set out to eat hairy crab this night, we decided to go ahead with the order anyways. The crabs arrived piping hot and the work to dismantle the crab begins! As I opened the shell, there was a good amount of crab roe inside. The crab roe was rich and flavorful while the crab meat was plentiful and sweet. The ginger and vinegar sauce provided was sweet and tangy, which was perfect for the crab meat portions. Very satisfying! As we finished eating the hairy crab, a glass of ginger tea was provided for each of us. As hairy crab is considered a "cold" food in Chinese culture, the ginger tea acts as the counteragent to the coldness to warm up your body. The tea was great to help with the digestion, though it can be quite 'spicy' due to the ginger.

Stir-fried Hairy Crab Cream with Bean Jelly ($380) - our friend had tried this dish before and highly recommended it! The bean jelly was basically clear flat noodles which were highly absorbent of the hairy crab cream. There was an abundant amount of crab meat in the cream and together with the bean jelly made for a really delicious dish to eat. Again the tartness of the ginger and vinegar sauce was the perfect condiment for this dish as well. Like my friend said, this was like eating hairy crab without all the work!
Steamed Hairy Crab Cream Dumpling ($33 each) - we had each ordered 2 of the hairy crab xiao lung bao. The skin of the xiao lung bao was thin yet strong enough to withstand our handling. Not only was there a bit of crab roe on top of the dumpling, the pork inside was laced with yummy crab meat and cream as well. The broth inside the dumpling were rich and flavorful - a perfect ending to round up our hairy crab night! 

Verdict - the service here was excellent on a whole as they were attentive to our needs. They paced our servings with careful consideration as they made sure to wait until we finished our appetizers before bringing out the hairy crab, as well as spacing out the crab dishes so we can concentrate on one crab dish at a time. The food here in general were excellent and consistent - although the prices are on the high side. I would recommend ordering their hairy crab dishes instead of the whole hairy crab as they seem to be a better bang for your buck if you just want a taste of the hairy crab without all the work. 

Liu Yuan Pavilion

3/F The Broadway, 54-62 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai 
2804 2000