# Sunday, August 8, 2010

At August, the yellow oil crabs (黃油蟹) are available again, I had 2 meals already and like to share my experiences here, but instead of East Ocean (東海) vs SuperStar (鴻星) (which I did a comparison last year), I tried East Ocean and Wu Kong Shanghai Restaurant (滬江大飯店) instead. I'll explain why I have not tried Superstar later.

The price of the crabs seems to be even more expensive this year, Yellow Oil Crab is indeed an expensive delicacies, but is it worth it? Personally I think at such price range, it is becoming a concern.

The set at East Ocean (http://www.eastocean.com.hk/) is relatively economic, at HKD 438 (inclusive of service charge), you get a lot of goodies beyond the crab, the crab quality is ok, not bad but not as good as that from Wu Kong, and they can't give me a male crab, which I prefer over female.

The set at Wu Kong (滬江) is expensive, you need to pay over HKD 800 including service charge, the crab is nice, although they said they can't allow customer to specify a male crab, I think the one I got is male, with the kind of crab paste that I like most. They also cooked the crab using wine (make it drunk first I think), but the wine taste is not really that appealing for me, I think I would prefer simple steaming better, so if you are not really into wine tastes in food, you need to check that out before ordering.

A good crab would have rich yellow oil even at limbs!

Wu Kong's set does not include a lot of stuffs, but the soup is a very expensive one, the noodle is not very good, and the crab used in the soup and noodle are hairy crabs and not yellow oil crabs.

I like this dessert very much

I would not recommend either set if you live in Hong Kong, as buying a crab and cook it at home can be a better choice, and at such price range, I would even question if eating Yellow Oil Crab is really worth the money, but if money is not a big concern, and you really want the taste, I think finding a good crab dealer can be a good option. Cooking crabs at home can allow one to choose what you want in a meal without being forced or lured to have something in the set which is not what you really need, or having some ingredients that is against your belief.

But if you are a tourist, or picking/cooking a crab is too much hassle for you, I think the East Ocean set is a good deal, the set can be too much for an average single person, so having a party of few person can better consume the set with some combinations of other dishes, so costing wise it is more economical, for the same reason I haven't tried Superstar's set because it is relatively more expensive, though the 10% off at some branches would reduce the gap (http://www.superstargroup.com.hk/setmenu/10_rcrab_AB/10_rcrab1b.jpg).

Sunday, August 8, 2010 5:01:12 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Tuesday, November 3, 2009

During Hairy crab (大閘蟹) season, most Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong would offer dishes out of this seasonal delicacy, Jade Garden is not known for this, and my trial on two of them makes me feel that I should stick to this restaurant for dim sum better.

Official name from menu: Tofu broth with hairy crabmeat and coral (豆腦蟹粉羹)

Official name from menu: Noodle in shrimp with hairy crabmeat and coral (蟹粉伴麵)

They are not really that bad, but there seems to be too much flour in it, and the taste is not rich enough, since the price is relatively low at only HKD 28 (USD 3.5) per serving (you can order an one person serving for trial, which is good), it is understandable, if you have a couple people dining there together, it is ok to order a few of these hairy crab dishes, may be there are nice surprises in the other ones.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 3:33:12 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Friday, October 30, 2009

I once thought I would have my first hairy crab (大閘蟹) meal this season at East Ocean, but unexpectedly it turned out to be Shark's Fin City restaurant instead. Just by chance anyway.

The set is simple, without too much fansy stuff, soup, a traditional chinese wine to offset the supposed "cold" elements from Hairy Crab, a ginger dessert that serves the same purpose, and of course, the main character - hairy crabs!

There are two hairy crab dishes aside from the 2 medium size steamed hairy crab:

The hairy crab paste Xiao Long Bao (小籠包) is unexpectedly good, the skin is not bad, the meat stuff tasted fresh, but the amount of paste (crab soup) inside is too little.

The crab paste + bread roll is ok, although not as good as the Crab paste garlic toast (蟹粉蒜茸飽) from East Ocean (東海海都), the amount of crab paste provided is bigger in quantity (not as great as that from East Ocean but ok too)

Now the crabs, there are 2 crabs, and they serve the next only after you have done with the first so all crabs can be eaten hot, the services were quite good and I am satisfied. The quality of the crabs are ok too, not super super but very good already, they have the true crab aroma which I failed to experience last year, it may be true that the overall quality this season has improved, I believe so as the lungs of the crabs are clean, a sign that they were grown in clean environment.

First crab

Second crab

Other stuffs

A good meal for HKD 490!

Friday, October 30, 2009 10:43:32 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Saturday, October 17, 2009

The hairy crab season is already here for sometime already, but since I had a lot of seafood at home recently, I decided to try out the hairy crab dishes first instead of feasting the crabs, somehow I need to manage the level of cholesterol I have.

Aside from Xiao Long Bao (小籠包), there is actually a special hairy crab dishes (大閘蟹菜式) that I receommend everyone crab lover to try, which is the Crab paste garlic toast (蟹粉蒜茸飽) from East Ocean (東海海都), at a price of HKD 108 for 6 pieces, it is not low but fair as far as the experiences is concerned, the mix of the crab meat and paste along with a hot garlic toast is truly amazing!

A full spread of rich crab paste on one piece of garlic toast!

And how about the hairy crab Xiao Long Bao (蟹粉小籠包)? I think it is only average, and if you think having too much crab stuff in a meal is no good, there are other dim sums that are worth trying too, a fried version of seafood roll is especially good!

Hairy Crab Xiao Long Bao (蟹粉小籠包): The Meat is not fresh enough, paste not rich enough.

This hairy crab paste wor tip (they don't call it a wor tip but I think it is) is not that good either.

Great fried version of seafood roll (鮮竹卷), great sauce with spring onion.

The branch at Harbour City is well decorated and nicely setup, with settings that allows certain degree of privacy, like this room:

There are other hairy crab dishes anyway at East Ocean, I'll try them out next time, especially the sets.

Saturday, October 17, 2009 3:51:21 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Friday, September 4, 2009

Finally, I was able to find time to have a Yellow Oil Crab meal at East Ocean, the HKD 398 set is a very good deal, although the crab is far from perfect, the set all together is very satisfying.

The menu: http://www.eastocean.com.hk/OCrabSets.html

The Yellow Oil crab (黄油蟹) feels bigger and richer than the one I had at SuperStar, but the crab quality may be a little bit "rougher" in comparison, the crab aroma seems stronger, but some part of it is too dry, and the yellow oil is rather concentrated instead of being distributed into the whole body (which may not be a bad thing for me).

yellow oil crab

I think to be fair one should not expect to have the highest quality yellow oil crab from a set at this price range, therefore I would say that the one I had from East Ocean is good for the value already, besides, all the other items are very good except the "wor tip" and dessert, which being ordinary, would become even less attractive at a time when I was already very full.

The meat and chicken are very good, simple but good tasting

The Yellow Oil Crab (黄油蟹) Xiao Long Bao (小籠包) is at the same quality like I mentioned in my previous blog entry, the "yellow oil" is great, but the meat quality can still be improved

The Shark Fin Soup at Superstar is creamy and having a bigger serving size. This one from East Ocean is cooked in clear chicken broth, very nice too.

The abalone from East Ocean is also small as expected, but it tastes quite well this time. I know many from the west are terrified by having poultry feet as food, but goose feet in abalone sauce is one of my best favorite!

I like this vegetable dish, the dried scallop cooked this way is one of my favorite

The "wor tip" is too oily, and quality is not that good. The desert is also average, much better if they can subsitute this with something else

Since I ordered only 1 set, so there is no complimentary Sake (Japanese wine), instead, I got a glass of fruit juice. I had only a little of it, based on some side information, having too much vitamin C rich content along with Crab may produce "undesirable" condition inside our stomach, I am not sure about how true it is, but just wanna play safe. After all, I was already too full after eating all these.

The service at East Ocean also beats Superstar in some ways, they provide the full set of gears at the start, and the waiters responded faster, but from both restaurants there are good and poor staffs, there are two things that I am disappointed today with East Ocean: cold hand cleansing water, and slow in handling my payment.

Overall I would rate the set at East Ocean a better deal than that from SuperStar, not only that the price is lower, the crab and many of the items are having better quality, since the disparity is not that big, if you do not mind having two yellow oil crab meals, I would suggest that you tried out both, but if you want to have only one, may be you can consider East Ocean's first.

The branch I went to was again in Wan Chai Harbour Centre, please find the full list of East Ocean's branch at:
Friday, September 4, 2009 8:15:31 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Friday, August 28, 2009

I have been planning to have my first Yellow Oil Crab meal at East Ocean (東海), but just always couldn't make it, and by chance it was more convenient for me to eat at SuperStar today, so despite that the East Ocean set is more attractive to me, I decided to try out SuperStar (鴻星) first.

There are three sets for me to choose, I chose the least expensive one, not exactly because I want to save money, but I think the extra spending for the higher end sets do not bring in much value for me.

If you take a look at the menu, you would notice that they priced the crab alone at around HKD 325 (The crab in the set is around 190g, while the one that they priced individually is 228g, $65 per 38g), HKD 325 = USD 41.50, around the price of a Dungeness crab in US, but this crab is way much smaller as you can imagine from the weight alone, so you can see how expensive the yellow oil crab is. 


I don't see SuperStar as the best restaurant for Shark's Fin, therefore I won't order higher end set because of that, and in fact, I see the creamy Braised Shark's Fin even better than the Double Boiled Shark's Fin. The Bird's Nest for Almond Cream is also useless, as it can hardly be felt, the only good ones in the most expensive set is the Prawn, which indeed is a very delicious dish.

But my main target today was the Yellow Oil Crab, the rest were for added value only, so I thought that the HKD 568 set is the best deal, and I was right, the set has real good value.

I am not a big fan of SuperStar as I had a very bad experience there, exactly at the Times Square branch a few years ago, they missed orders and kept us waiting, and the staffs were so impolite in handling our complaint. But to my surprise, the service today is quite good, only one failed to respond to my request despite that she promised to help. I can feel that they do not have enough people to serve during peak hours.

Back to the main topic, the Yellow Oil Crab is fat and rich in yellow oil, but somehow I feel that the yellow oil is lacking the great aroma I used to experience last year, I'll see if I can get that same sensation when I try out East Ocean's.

In a way, yellow oil crabs are better than the much more famous Hairy crabs, and it is only produced in the Pearl river delta area near Hong Kong waters. A lot of people says that the quality of these crabs are better than the hairy crab, which are having contamination issues due to environment pollutions in the lakes of China. But the pricing of these crabs are really too high, hairy crab can also be expensive, but there are also low cost options with relatively acceptable quality, so people can afford to eat quite a lot of them. But for yellow oil crab oil, we really need to control our appetite because the production is limited.

Another special thing about Yellow Crab Oil is that it is usually boiled with wine, the reason is that to avoid losing the yellow oil, you can't let the crab struggle too much during cooking (the feet may fell off and leaking yellow oil), and have to use wine to make it drunk before cooking it. Sounds like a humane way of feasting. Well, life is full of paradox, having to kill a creature for another creature to survive is a bad design of the world we are today, I don't like it and such a thought is truly annoying when thinking about eating great food...

A few things to ask for when ordering yellow oil crab in a restaurant:
1.  Gears for eating crab, since the crab is small, you need them for picking up the crab meat in the legs. The Superstar stuffs did not get that for me today.

2. Hot water with Lemon for washing hands

3. A small spoon for picking up the crab paste

Always remember, what you go for in a yellow oil crab is the yellow stuffs (paste, oil) there, unlike the Dungeness crab, the crab meat is so few that it is mainly a by-product. This reminds me a funny experience in Seattle, I had Dungeness crab twice there and in both occasion, they served me crabs without the paste (not sure how this thing is called in US), I guess they treat these as waste, well, the crab paste of Dungeness crab is indeed not so good, no wonder it is not valued, but not for the yellow oil crab.

One characteristic of the yellow oil crab is that the yellow oil will flow to all parts of the crab's body, a reaction from the heat of the sun.

For the rest of the dishes, all are quite good, so as far as food value is concerned, this set is worth the money.


The abalone is just average (I did not expect much from an "abalone" from a set), surprisingly though, the side dishes that come with the abalone is quite good


花彫 is a chinese rice wine originated from Shaoxing (紹興) of Zhejiang (浙江) provinces, not bad to have some after a crab meal.


Well, the dessert (almond cream) is just ok

Address in Chinese: 銅鑼灣時代廣場食通天10樓1005鋪
Address in English: 1005, 10th Floor,Times Square,1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay
Tel: 2628 0886
SuperStar has quite a number of branches in Hong Kong, there are rumors that the one at TST (Tsim Sha Tsui) is the best,  the address list of SuperStar's branch an be found at the following link (but only in Chinese version):
Friday, August 28, 2009 9:10:01 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Thursday, August 13, 2009

Despite having extremely terrible experiences before with the food expo, I still opt to go this year, getting there early and on the first day, I avoided the terrible crowds that made the expo a bad place to stay.

One reason I got there was to buy the Japanese snow crab (松葉蟹) at HKD 90 (USD 11.5), fortunately most of the early birds were attracted to the HKD 1 meat ball pack so I was able to get one, I believe many people behind were not able to get one, so am I happy? Not exactly, first of all, the crab did not taste great, secondly, I found out that the vendor seems to be selling them at exactly the same price at their web site.

The crab is cooked and frozen, I did not expect it to be great, but still quite disappointed, it is a far lot worse than those I had in Hokkaido Japan, so frozen food is frozen food, there is probably no exceptions, but to be fair to the vendor, HKD 90 is a "reasonable" price, but they should not call it a "bargain", which I think is not true.

Based on what I know, this eight leg creature are harvested only during a short period of time in Japan from November to April, if that is true, that explains why the crabs are not in good quality, they just have been frozen for longer than they should, I was in Hokkaida a few years back during winter, the fresh crabs just taste totally different.

For the same amount, getting a fresh crab at the market is a better choice.

Crabs | Fair
Thursday, August 13, 2009 7:47:56 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Sunday, August 9, 2009

In Hong Kong, every year there are two big occasions for Crab lovers, the first is the Yellow Oil Crab season, I had eaten quite a lot of Yellow Oil Crab last year, but only started to pay attention to it recently, traditionally, SuperStar (鴻星) and East Ocean (東海) are the two restaurants that I would go to for Yellow Oil Crab, simply because they always offer nice set menu which provides better value than ordering crabs alone.

Yellow Oil Crab are more expensive than Hairy crab in average, I believe that their source are rather limited to the Pearl River areas (which is near Hong Kong), the rich yellow oil from the female crabs are excellent delicacies, and one famous dish that can be made out of it is the Xiao Long Bao (小籠包).

Last week I tested the Yellow Oil Crab Xiao Long Bao (黄油蟹小籠包) by both SuperStar and East Ocean:


The ones from SuperStar appears to be slightly bigger, and having more crab paste inside, the meat are very fresh but the soup inside seems to be a little light


The ones from East Ocean has less soup inside but it is thick and richer/creamier, the meat quality is not as good, but there is one important factor, the ones from SuperStar is HKD 22 each, while East Ocean is offering them at HKD 12 each!! Yes, HKD 12 each! Never before had a Yellow Oil Crab Xiao Long Bao (黄油蟹小籠包) been offered at such low price, and they apparently had not sacrificed in quality!

So in Round one, there is a clear winner, at HKD12, it is so tempting to eat a bunch of them at East Ocean.

Next round? Of course, it would be the Crabs!!! I am preserving my appetite for a super feast on them.

Sunday, August 9, 2009 2:51:41 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)