Saturday, October 14, 2006

Grand Shanghai, Singapore

It's that time of the year again. And before you frantically rush to call your accountants, I'm not talking about a premature tax return but the season of hairy crabs.

So I made my way down to Grand Shanghai at 390 Havelock Rd for my annual hairy crab fix. The season only lasts about a month that's why I didn't want to put this post on the back burner for too long in case you dudes and dudettes want to give it a try.

Grand Shanghai tries to mimic the Chinese restaurants of old by not only recreating the decor but also providing live music. As long as the songstress of the night does not sing in a screeching appetite-supressing voice, I'm ok with that. Thankfully her voice was not disturbing that night.

Hairy crab is reputated to be extremely "cooling" in a Chinese sense and to counter this "coolness" they provide the diners with a cup of Shaoxing wine. This came first but I left it by the side to be drank only after I've had the crab.

We ordered two starters which weren't included in the set menu. The first one that came was the crispy fried eel. Nicely caramelized with a crispy bite, these were quite fun to start off the meal. I only thought it was just abit too sweet but the bitter Chinese tea compensated for that.

The second starter was the pork terrine. Held together by a sparse gelatin-aspic matrix, the chopped pork in this terrine still provided a hearty bite. Funny how I thought it tasted very similar to a pork rillette I had some time ago.

Sliced cucumber with shredded ham salad was the starter from the set. Refreshing and crisp, the dressing was not too overpowering and the coarse vermicelli strands provided an interesting texture to this salad.

The soup of shredded beancurd and crab meat was normal. Except for the generous portions of crab meat it was overall like any other thick Chinese soup.

Hello Miss Crab, I'm D and I'm going to eat you. Yes, that's right; YOU.

The main thing that's really worth fussing over hairy crab is the roe. The roe is not lumpy or hard but a smooth buttery paste. This roe is so rich and creamy that it glides almost like butter down your throat.

The server actually does the initial dissection for you for easy access to that tasty roe. A nutcracker is provided for the harder bits like the legs and claws.

The crabs are steamed and served hot with just the mildest hint of ginger so that the sweet goodness of its natural flavor is retained.

Just to emphasize how hairy these crabs really are, here is a picture of the claw. The brown mossy looking stuff is hair. This crab has so much hair on her arms she'll put any Bollywood actor to shame haha.

I love the finger washbowl, it's the epitome of laziness. I remembered how I saw some Japanese tourists drinking this before. I guess it won't really taste that bad since it's essentially just lemon-tea.

This crab is apparently so "cooling" that they provide a hot cup of ginger tea in addition to the Shaoxing wine. I didn't really like this, I'll rather opt for the teh halia at Adam Rd.

Sauteed prawns in crab roe came next. I was really happy that these were already shelled. Somehow after all the effort expanded on shelling the crab I wasn't looking forward to shelling prawns as well. The prawns were large and crunchy and the asparagus on the side were fresh and juicy too. This tasted very clean without being too salty or greasy.

Brocolli was the seasonal vegetable of the day. Nothing too spectacular, quick boiled and served with a little salt and garlic the freshness of the brocolli spoke for itself.

To end off the savories we had crab roe little dragon buns (xiao long paos). These are actually larger than your average xiao long pao and as such the skin suffered abit of thickness to maintain structural integrity of the dumpling. The filling was very tasty and juicy though and the flavor of crab roe was evident in this.

You can see the little bits of orange crab roe in it. Ooh and look at the juice!

The dessert was greenbean soup with seaweed. This was actually the only real let-down that evening. I would have preferred it as pure greenbean instead. Somehow putting in the seaweed not only made it look odd but taste weird as well.

Grand Shanghai is currently having a promotion where you get a "one-for-one" deal for the hairy crab set menus. This meal including the two starters came to about 70SGD per person.

A rare glimpse of the dude behind the camera looking extremely daggy since he came straight from work. This photograph is courtesy of my sneaky female diner who took this shot whilst pretending to view the food pictures, who then subsequently insisted it be posted as well since "she" took it.



LiquidShaDow said...

Damn, you are making me hungry with this, D.

zhengning said...

looks like you eat out everyday!

D said...

liquidshadow: Only about two more weeks before the season is over!

zhengning: Hmm funny how I've gotten this comment more than once but I do eat home quite a bit. I would cook more often if I had the time heh.