It’s that time of the year again – harvest season. And by harvest, we mean bushels of fattened hairy crabs bursting with rich, creamy roe. This freshwater crustacean, which hails from eastern China, has became a hallmark autumn delicacy thanks to its deliciously gooey roe packed full of umami richness.
We wanted to commence this year’s hairy crab season in style with the full-on nine-course golden autumn hairy crab tasting menu ($888/person) at Greater China Club. The multi-course extravaganza features creamy crab roe in each dish under the curation of Executive Chef Chan Wai-Teng. The youthful chef graduated as Master Chef in 2019 from the renowned Chinese Culinary Institute and has won several accolades at Chinese cooking championships. He most recently headed the banquet department at three-Michelin-starred The 8 in Macau before joining Greater China Club.
We’ve become quite familiar with Greater China Club, thanks to the many interesting guest chef pop-ups over the years. Opened in 2015, the private members’ club opened to the general public last year, featuring exceptional Cantonese cuisine for the discerning palate – something we are very excited about as we can now come here for a meal as often as we like!
Our feast commenced with steamed xiaolongbao (soupy Shanghainese buns). But these aren’t just any regular xiaolongbao, but ones packed full of hairy crabmeat and roe. The rich, juicy filling is oozing with umami goodness. We could have easily scarfed down three or four each!
At first, we weren’t too sure about the chilled hairy crab roe jelly with huadiao (traditional Chinese yellow wine) and soy sauce because we usually associate hairy crab with hot dishes. But one bite convinced us that we needed to change our mindset. The rich roe is countered by a silky, sweet and savoury huadiao and soy mixture that makes the umami notes of the roe resonate even further. The collagen-rich jelly reminded us of the texture of 肉皮冻 (pork-skin jelly) – velvety-smooth and melt-in-the-mouth delicious.
The baked hairy crabmeat with cheese and wild mushroom has a crisp, breadcrumbed crust and gooey, meaty interior. Plenty of savoury juiciness permeates the sweet meatiness of the crab, giving an opportunity to fully indulge in the delicate crustacean with none of the work of actually teasing the meat out of the shell.
The star of the menu in its purest form, the steamed Jiangsu hairy crab (male, 5.5 tael) allows guests to taste the true essence of the crab.
Each little spoonful of roe is pure heaven. Because crab is termed a “cold” element in traditional Chinese gastronomy, “warm” items are paired for balance. In this case, sweet, aromatic 25-year-old Xian Heng huadiao and soothing ginger tea provide heat. We loved the spicy, sweet ginger tea so much that we ordered another whole teapot.
The braised seafood soup with hairy crab roe over egg white, served with vegetarian shark fin, is perfumed with the aroma of creamy crab roe. The steamed egg white at the bottom of the bowl is silky-smooth and delicate, adding textural and flavour contrast to the richness of the seafood soup. We also enjoyed the tiny pearls of truffled-infused vinegar on top.
The pan-fried Japanese scallop with hairy crab roe is as delicious as it is beautiful. The scallop was cooked perfectly with a toothsome bounce, with petits pois adding pops of sweetness. The chewy spheres of gorgon fruit (鸡头米), which we would best compare to giant pearl couscous, allowed us to perpetuate the enjoyment of the roe sauce. Tiny shiso leaves add punches of freshness.
When we first saw this steamed bean curd with hairy crab roe in pumpkin sauce, we wondered where the roe was. Then we broke through the silky tofu and found a treasure trove of gooey roe. The sweetness of the crab roe is further accentuated by the delicate pumpkin sauce, and we loved that bit of heat added by the fried ginger shreds.
The handmade noodles with scallion and hairy crab roe, served with a soft-boiled egg, are for die-hard crab-roe fans. The chewy noodle dish, coated in rich onsen egg and roe, is the Chinese equivalent of carbonara, and boy, does it hit it out of the park with its luscious, umami flavours.
The black sesame glutinous balls in ginger soup is the only dish devoid of hairy crab. The chewy black sesame dumplings have a centre of lotus paste, with a slight savoury edge to counterbalance the sweet, spicy ginger soup.
Spoil yourself and make a reservation to try this decadent hairy crab menu. The menu, which isn’t that extravagantly priced when considering the quality of each dish, is a must-try for any hairy crab aficionado. So do yourself a favour and book fast, because hairy crab season lasts only for about another month!
10/F, D2 Place ONE, 9 Cheung Yee Street, Lai Chi Kok, 2743 8055
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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