In preparation for this trip to Asia, I read various food recommendations over at the New York Times, including an article by Nina Simonds entitled Hong Kong Reignites Fire Of China's Regional Cuisines. Praising the Shanghai-style restaurant Xiao Nan Guo (Little Southern Country), she wrote:
At Little Southern Country, hairy crab, plump with sweet meat and available only from May through December, was succulent. It was in a rich, reduced soy sauce glaze atop soft rice cakes, which absorbed the mellow sauce.
The tempting words Available only struck me, along with her glowing review, so Jason and I went last night for dinner. I will now admit I am not the eater I thought I was. It is sad but it is true.
First of all, why was I suckered by the Available only? May through December? That's eight months! That's like telling someone they need to come to Vermont to experience winter, "we only have it November through April!!!!" Second of all, I DON'T KNOW HOW TO EAT A CRAB!
This became apparent when they brought the plate to our table and there were two creepy sticky looking creatures. The waitress brought a cracker, but when I picked up the claw I discovered the dark covering was slimy (the hair, I guess) and I was repulsed. Then I noticed the top coming off the body and goo oozing out, and a minor wave of revulsion passed over me. I put down the claw and utensils and said to Jason, "I don't think I can eat this." He was all understanding, as he had no intention of eating it in the first place.
The soup dumplings were excellent though: the broth was lighter than in the US but still rich in flavor. I could have eaten an entire order myself. And Jason's "Grandma's pork belly" had crazy looking mushrooms that were delicious, and the pork was sweet and yummy too. So I didn't leave too hungry. Still, my culinary confidence has been shaken. Perhaps a trip to Alain Ducasse's Spoon is in order for this evening.
Related: How to… Eat Hairy Crabs.