[Shanghai Girl Eats] Cheng Long Hang Palace 成隆行蟹王府
Cheng Long Hang Palace 成隆行蟹王府 | Dianping
Address: 3/F, Huaihai International Plaza, 1 Fenyang Lu near Huaihai Lu / 汾阳路1号淮海国际广场裙楼3楼(近淮海路)
Date visited: 2015.11 for dinner
Price: RMB200-300 per person (but depends on how many hairy crabs)
Will return: Yes but only during hairy crab season
Crab season, usually during October & November, is an essential part of living in Shanghai. People buy stacks of hairy crabs and steam them at home or eat crab-centric dishes at restaurants. There are a few well-known restaurants in town specializing in hairy crab dishes and Cheng Long Hang Palace is one of them. While they serve crab dishes all year long, it is best to go during hairy crab season when the crabs and their roe are in their prime.
During our visit, each hairy crab ran about RMB300 each, which is really expensive when you can buy so much more in bulk and steam them at home. I recommend sticking to the hairy crab dishes at Cheng Long Hang and maybe get one crab during your first visit just for the sake of being able to watch the servers skillfully take the meat out of each crab.
We started with some crab meat jellies (I think RMB20 each), which were nothing special but cute if only for the effect.
Braised bean curd with crab meat 蟹粉豆腐 (RMB48 per serving/RMB138 for sharing plate) was okay with trace amounts of crab meat and tasted like what most restaurants serve.
Xiaolongbao stuffed with pork and crab meat (RMB48 for 4 pieces) were juicy and enveloped by thin skin. XL xiaolongbao that you eat with straws are also available on the menu.
Steamed rice dressed crab meat 蟹粉捞饭 (RMB32 per serving/RMB118 for sharing plate) was the highlight of the meal. You get a vat of crab meat to mix into white rice. I can literally just eat this and be satisfied. If you want to get fancier, there is pure crab roe mixed with rice that costs 3x the price if you are keen (but in my opinion not worth the upgrade since this is already pretty good).
Like hairy crabs, meatballs (nicknamed lion’s head in Chinese) are also very Shanghainese. Pork and crab meatballs 蟹粉狮子头 (RMB58 per meatball) were a hit with super soft pork rolled with bits of crab meat.
For first timers, it is worth trying a hairy crab in a restaurant to get the full service and experience. My crab-eating skills stop after opening the shell and digging out the roe and I am not very good at getting the rest of the meat out so I need someone else to finish the job for me.
The price of each crab will vary by male or female and its weight. During our visit, the price was around RMB300 per crab. I prefer getting male crabs because their roe is softer and stickier whereas the female crab roe is harder.
The servers make it look pretty by laying out all the crab meat neatly on the plate. Female roe shown below.
Male roe shown below — much softer and stickier than female roe.
All in all, Cheng Long Hang is a place for people who want to get a hairy crab experience without the mess of trying to do it yourself. But the convenience definitely comes at a price.