October 19

Adventures with Hairy Crab

A group of people who are working in the office, none of whom are from China, decided we’d do dinner as a group. Singapore girl (whom was part of Thursday’s dinner) heard that Hairy Crab was in season and that this particular restaurant had it. A quick search on the internet wasn’t very promising, but I promised myself I’d keep an open mind. So, off we went in two cabs (there’s a four person limit per cab, and we were a party of 5). Only two in the party know enough Mandarin to talk to people, so I rode with Singapore Girl - who has the stronger skills.

SG and Chinese London Girl (CLG) ordered stuff for the group. The Other American (OA) and London Dude (LD) were also there. The food started to arrive.

There was this sliced beef with onion and green peppers - which SG and CLG ordered for us non-Asians (neither of them eat cows).

Fried chicken bones, which was basically joints and cartilage deep fried with cashews. I tried one, and wasn’t able to take the cartilage part, so I spit that out. It tasted like Fried Chicken should - it just didn’t have any muscle.

There was this chicken broth and mushroom soup. The mushrooms were not a type that I recognized, and were decidedly tough and stringy.

Chicken dumplings. Like chicken pot pie back home, except the “crust” is similar to a large soup wanton noodle instead. Mmmm.

Papaya, Ginger and Fish. The Papaya was whole, but also formed a sauce with chunks of ginger and rings of fish fat (that is to say, it’s the fat layer off of a fish - under the skin and above the meat. I tried this too, and didn’t really like it. Papaya is very strong, but I liked the ginger bit.

Hairy crab. Well, that’s what the menu said, but SG was immediately convinced that it wasn’t really hairy crab at all. She went through it looking for something to eat and really couldn’t find anything. Myself, I ate a few tiny skinny legs worth of meat, but couldn’t find anything substantial either.

At this point, OA and LD were both thinking that I’m just crazy for listening to these Asian folks at all. Dessert came and there were custard pies (which LD really liked) and durian puffs. Whether or not anybody would eat it became a joke. CLG took a video of me trying while quietly laughing. .. At the table they suggested that another name for it was Jack Fruit, but it turns out (thanks Google) that it’s definitely durian. It wouldn’t take long to get used to, but I really wasn’t in the mood with a camera in my face.

Really - nobody really liked any of the food (which wasn’t cheap by local standards). It was approx $30 each. The service was good, and the presentation was great, but as SG said, “It’s not Szechuan”.

Cleaning the Palette

Afterwards OA went back to the hotel, and the remaining four of us went to a bar for a few drinks. It took a while to find a bar that wasn’t a restaurant or a “club”. Finally we did, and I had a Heineken or two. We got back here just before 10PM.