Best hairy crab dishes in Shanghai

Best hairy crab dishes in Shanghai

It’s hairy crab season. Get your eating face on, and head for the city’s best hairy crab joints

While many city restaurants offer the crustacean on their menus throughout the year, there is really only one season to feast on the freshly caught and roe-filled dazha xie (大闸蟹) -- the best and heavier hairy crabs -- and we’re in it.

So, grab your chopsticks and a few red bills and take a tour of the city’s best hairy crab locales. 

Hairy crab - Ling Long GeLing Long Ge's non-crab specialty is the dan dan mian (担担面).

1. Ling Long Ge (凌泷阁)

The users of Dianping, Shanghai's major dining listing website, are pretty confident in their choice for one of the best places to grab hairy crabs, and Ling Long Ge in Gubei ranks up there for good reason.

Hand selecting your own crab is great and so is gorging on their mini crab sandwiches made from RMB 380 worth of sautéed meat.

Price doesn't mean everything though. Ling Long Ge's best hairy crab dish is actually a small bite: bean curd stuffed with crab meat (凌泷鸳鸯酥, RMB28).

Although small, the chunks of meat are generous and the flavors delightful.

More on CNNGo: How to eat Shanghai hairy crabs

Ling Long Ge, 2/F 951 Hongxu Lu, near Yan’an Xi Lu, 虹许路951号2楼, 近延安西路, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5 p.m.-10 p.m., +86 21 3207 1177

Hairy crab - fu 1088Fu 1088 is not known as a hairy crab restaurant, but it can out class -- and out cook -- many others.

2. Fu 1088 (福1088)

Although the price tag is hefty, the crab at Fu 1088 is worth it. And if you stick to ordering this delicacy, you won’t have a problem reaching their RMB 300 per person minimum. 

The steamed egg white custard with sautéed hairy crab meat (蟹粉炖蛋白, RMB 28) is among the restaurant's specialties.

Housed in a renovated villa, this place is classic 1930s Shanghai, though they’ve renovated the venue and prices since then as well.

More on CNNGo: Best Shanghainese restaurants in Shanghai

Fu 1088, 375 Zhening Lu, near Yuyuan Lu, 镇宁路375号, 近愚园路, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m., +86 21 5239 7878, minimum spend RMB 300 per person

Hairy crab - JesseJesse's crab more than makes up for its lack of ambience.3. Jesse (吉士酒家)

There is no question Jesse is a Shanghai institution. They do everything well here, and hairy crab is no exception.

“I just love [Jesse's] crab meat with egg (蟹肉芙蓉蛋, RMB 138),” gushes Ms. Chen, a frequent diner here.

Another highlight is the fried crab meat, served in a ceramic crab (RMB 88). It boasts enough of that desirable roe to satiate anyone’s need for orange eggs.

The restaurant charges RMB 16.50 for 50 grams of crab meat.

More on CNNGo: Star grazing: Where the rich and famous eat in Shanghai

Jesse, 41 Tianping Lu near Huaihai Xi Lu, 天平路41号, 近淮海路, 11 a.m.-midnight, +86 21 6282 9260

Hairy crab - xin guangXin Guang does the persnickety shell-removal tasks for you.

4. Xin Guang Jiu Jia (新光酒家)

If you can stand the price, this place is hairy crab paradise.

Because the powers in Xin Guang know many people hate cracking their own shells and picking all the tiny pieces of meat out, they do the heavy lifting for you.

“This place is incredible,” says Mike Hagerty, an advertising exec who usually brings guests to impress here.

“There is crab in every single dish on the tasting menu. My favorite is the lightly sautéed leg meat with garlic shoots (清蒸蟹钳, RMB 380).”

More on CNNGo: Shanghai's best hairy crab restaurants

Xin Guang Jiu Jia, 512 Tianjin Lu, near Guangxi Bei Lu 天津路512号, 近广西北路, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5 p.m.-9:30 p.m.), +86 21 6322 3978, minimum spend RMB 400 per person

Hairy crab - jia jiaJia Jia's crab roe xiaolongbao won't break the bank.

5. Jia Jia Tongbao (佳家汤包)

To combine two of this city’s favorite culinary delights is a delicious no-brainer. And Jia Jia Tongbao does just that -- and does it so well.

If anyone were to need proof of this xiaolongbao stall’s popularity, just look at the lengthy queue at any given hour of any given day.

The soup dumplings with crab roe and pork (蟹粉鲜肉小笼, RMB 25.5) are serious stuff and keep us coming back time and again.

Be warned though, once these babies sell out for the day they close up shop, so get there early.

More on CNNGo: Best xiaolongbao restaurants in Shanghai

Jia Jia Tongbao, 90 Huanghe Lu, near Fengyang Lu 黄河路90号, 近凤阳路, 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., +86 21 6327 6878

Hairy crab - din tai fungAdding hairy crab is one way to get people to eat their veggies.6. Din Tai Fung (鼎泰丰)

Besides offering the steamed shelled fish, Din Tai Fung also offers crab roe xiaolongbao, and an asparagus dish topped with crab meat that is sinfully delicious (蟹粉芦笋, RMB 168).

“It is almost the consistency of a soup,” said Angel, one of the Din Tai Fung waitresses. “The mixture on the asparagus is very delicate, but very flavorful too.” 

The Taiwan chain restaurant charges RMB 228 for a female crab (175 grams) and RMB 228 for a male (225 grams).

More on CNNGo: 5 most overrated Shanghai experiences and their better alternatives

Multiple locations, Din Tai Fung (Nanjing Xi Lu) , 1/F Shanghai Centre, 1376 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Tongren Lu 南京西路1376号上海商城1楼, 近铜仁路, 11 a.m.-11 p.m., +86 21 6289 9182

Hairy crab - tongchuan luHairy crabs: Packed and ready to eat at Tongchuan Lu.7. Tongchuan Lu Seafood Market (铜川路水产市场)

Not only can you bargain for your live crabs here, but your vendor will also neatly and securely tie them up with twine for you.

Then, you can either bring them home to steam, or simply seat yourself at a nearby roadside stall or a more established restaurant, and tell the cook exactly how you want your crabs prepared.

Just make sure to negotiate a price before you have them cooked.

More on CNNGo: Gut it out: The Shanghai Fish Market tutorial

Tongchuan Lu Seafood Market, Tongchuan Lu near Lanxi Lu 铜川路, 近兰溪路, restaurants open 24 hours