With only slightly over two weeks left to enjoy the delicious hairy crabs at Hai Tien Lo (Pan Pacific Singapore), you should definitely head down to check out these prized ingredients! Hai Tien Lo is one of my personal favourites - I love the Weekend Dim Sum Buffet!
A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited down to Hai Tien Lo for a tasting of their Hairy Crab menu. There are a number of configurations here at Hai Tien Lo with the biggest private room sitting up to 20 adults - it also comes with an attached bathroom and a super-lazy susan (where you can rotate with the flick of a switch).
The first dish I sampled that afternoon were the Steamed Minced Pork Dumplings with Hairy Crab Meat and Roe. Reminiscent of delicious Xiao Long Baos, these hairy crab dumplings were brimming with fresh flavours and a little vinegar helped to bring out the flavours more.
The second dish was one of my personal favourites - the Poached Dumplings with Fresh Prawns, Hairy Crab Meat and Roe in Chili Oil. This is very typical of Sichuan food (although probably a little less Cantonese than most dishes at Hai Tien Lo) where the dumplings are completely drenched in a flavourful mix of saltiness, sweetness, sourness and spiciness - what an excellent dish!
As a preview to the Lunar New Year that is coming right up (a lot faster than you may think actually), the kind folks at the Pan Pacific Singapore has invited us to try Chef's new creation, the Double-boiled "Buddha Jumps over the Wall" with Matsutake Mushrooms. There was absolutely nothing I could fault with this dish - this is a flawless dish and if I really had to pick one thing, it would be the finite supply of this incredibly flavourful and comforting soup. Personally, I am a huge fan of Cantonese soups but this one really takes the cake. I love how rich the broth is and the use of bamboo pith to add texture is a nice change.
The focus of this lunch was obviously on the hairy crabs and the Steamed Whole Hairy Crab with Perilla Leaves at Hai Tien Lo is a true test of the quality of this prized ingredient. Don't worry if the crab looks a little daunting because the staff here will assist you in this complex little dish.
Firstly, enjoy the golden and creamy roe of the hairy crab - eaten straight out of the shell with a small spoon. While savouring the fine flavours of this prized roe, watch how the restaurant staff remove the meat from the rest of the crab with their nimble fingers and a combination of skills.
Be amazed as you watch the entire hairy crab gets converted into a plate of edible flesh.
Since it is generally believed (by the Chinese) that the hairy crabs are cooling in nature, it is often served with warm ginger tea to help balance it with a little heatiness. The ginger tea is also great at helping you clear palate before you take on more gastronomical marvels.
The Braised Bean Curd with Prawns, Hairy Crab Meat and Roe was another one of my favourite dishes - that sauce which contains all the essence of the hairy crab is incredibly delicious and I cannot help but to finish up every last drop of it. The prawns were fresh and the handmade beancurd was silky smooth - a definitely dish to try when you visit Hai Tien Lo during this season!
Finally, as a savory ending to this lunch, we sampled the Stewed Fragrant Rice with Hairy Crab in this beautiful claypot. After soaking up all the hairy crab goodness, the rice in this dish is amazingly flavourful.