Tiny Crabs And “Very Ordinary” Food

It’s hairy crab season in Shanghai from October to December and all Shanghainese go crazy for them, whether they buy them from the wet market to cook at home or choose the more expensive option of dining in one of many crab restaurants. I won’t go  in to too much detail on the crab topic because Swiss James has done a fine job of it in his recent blog post on the subject, so I’ll just give a plug to the specialist crab restaurant I always go to each year, right by my office on Jiu Jiang Road close to The Bund.

I generally eat them at home as eating out prices are nothing short of insanity for these delicacies. The only time I eat crabs outside is when I have out of town visitors or occasionally, when the meal is work related. And luckily, we had a senior visitor last week from Taiwan who wanted to eat crab.

Cheng long hang xie wang fu (成隆行蟹王府) is a fairly premium hairy crab restaurant that opens all year round but is most busy during the peak crab season. It’s very popular with Asian tourists, especially from Japan. In fact, after a quick browse on Trip Advisor I discovered 5 reviews for this restaurant and all 5 were in Japanese!

Prices started from 388 RMB per head and went up to 1388 RMB per head which is just silly if you ask me when you can get these in supermarkets for less than 20 RMB. However, all set meals do include a large number of dishes that are made with various parts of the crab (as well as shark fin soup), and everyone gets a whole crab each which they will “de-shell” for you if you like.

The sales technique of the waitresses is not particularly sophisticated. In fact, it was downright disgraceful. After we indicated our choice of the 388 rmb set menu, she basically started to try an upsell us by saying that the meal we chose was really not good and “all the food in that menu were very very ordinary and the crab is very very small”!

I wanted to say “I don’t work in the banking industry where the big bonuses and good times seem to be back again, I work in market research so we’re lucky to be here on company expenses at all”. But I think that would have been lost on her so we just said it’s okay, we’re used to mediocrity.

The meal of course, was excellent, it’s just a pity you have to go through the whole rigmorole of sales banter at the beginning which might spoil it for some people. I should add that 388 rmb per person is what some people in China earn in a month!

Additional information:
Cheng long hang xie wang fu
Address: No.216 Jiujiang Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai, China
Phone: 021-6321 2010

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13 Responses to Tiny Crabs And “Very Ordinary” Food

  1. CP says:

    Sometimes the waitress is just too honest. I remember going to a restaurant in HK where I ordered fish, and the waitress just said “I wouldn’t eat the fish if I were you” with a pained look on her face.

    Suitably deterred, I chose a meat dish but it was pretty mediocre. Not been back since.

  2. T. says:

    388 RMB a month! What sort of world are you living in Richy Rich! I make 388 a year!

  3. WoAi says:

    CP – I think they’ve just been told to try to get customers to upgrade to the more expensive meals but they weren’t told how to do that so the staff do the best they can.

    T – And I’m sure you’re worth every cent.

  4. jeffwho says:

    ok! i will cook the crabs home when i have money lol!

  5. mandy says:

    it’s funny how much seafood prices vary across regions and countries. when i lived in toronto, you can get two gigantic vancouver crabs for like $20 or 30. twin lobsters in boston chinatown go for about $16 > all restaurant prices, not supermarket. then you come to china and it’s like woah! even in shenzen, where seafood is supposedly cheaper, lobsters are like 200-300rmb per “liang”

  6. Swiss James says:

    There’s a guy from my office here this week and he point blank refused to go take a trip to Yancheng to eat Hairy Crab.

    He’s heard rumours about what the yellow ‘yolk’ is in them and won’t eat it. FORSHAME!

    Do they sell crabs in those little stalls near your fancy apartment WoAi?

  7. WoAi says:

    @Jeff – You don’t need money to cook them at home. 15 rmb is all you need.

    @Mandy – Yes indeed, we do overpay for lots of things here but at least the blogs are good value for money!

    @Swiss – That’s logical. So chickens eggs are okay but crabs eggs are yucky. Or do you mean (ahem) the male crab gunk? To be fair, I don’t like them either. In Shanghai at this time, every man and his dog are selling these crabs. You can get them literally on most streets. I’ve seen someone who looks like a vagrant with 3 or 4 tiny sorry excuses for crabs laid out in a small bowl trying to sell them.

  8. T. says:

    crab gunk is the bestest thing ever.

  9. Swiss James says:

    That vagrant is a sad mental image.

    A sad, delicious mental image.

  10. IC says:

    “I should add that 388 rmb per person is what some people in China earn in a month!”

    Obviously such low income people can not be janiters. Here is Chinese janiter life-style.

    http://bbs.news.163.com/bbs/photo/154704336.html

  11. Anthony says:

    “it’s okay, we’re used to mediocrity”

    love it ! – lol

  12. Swiss James says:

    Feel free to tag this one amusing btw WoAi!

  13. Miss Jane says:

    @comment #7…you know a lot of people make money off of current events! It’s called smart surviving skills! Check out the SOLD OUT Halloween costume inspired by the Balloon Boy incident.

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/saskatchewan/story/2009/10/22/sk-balloon-boy-costumes-halloween-091022.html

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