Fall has arrived, and brings with it that one time of the year when it’s perfectly acceptable to see hair in your food: Hairy crab season. Commonly found in Shanghai and eastern China, and also known as Chinese mitten crab, this seasonal delicacy is favoured for its sweet flesh and creamy orange roe.

The palm-sized crab’s most distinctive feature is the thick black fuzz that covers its claws and legs, and is typically steamed whole to preserve its natural juices. Eating it is also a slightly complex affair that entails lifting its shell, removing its heart, lungs and gills, and breaking it apart before reaching its meat and rich, delicious roe. Consumers may also require tools such as chopsticks and scissors to properly savour the crab.

To get you started on your crabby feast, we’ve put together a guide to 5 restaurants serving up this decadent treat.

1
Yan Ting

Yan Ting has rolled out some 10 à la carte dishes featuring the prized crustacean. These include cheese-baked crab shell, steamed egg with crab meat, and slow-cooked crab claw presented in a pumpkin. For those seeking a heavier meal, the restaurant also serves two seven-course set menus with tempting dishes such as braised dried seafood broth with crab meat, and claypot glass vermicelli with beancurd and crab meat.

Available until 31 December, 2016.

Yan Ting, The St Regis Singapore, 29 Tanglin Road, Singapore 247911, +65 6506 6887,   www.yantingrestaurant.com 

2
Shang Palace

This posh Chinese restaurant at Shangri-La Hotel Singapore ushers in the hairy crab season with a special à la carte menu. Available for lunch and dinner, the dishes range from braised bird’s nest with hairy crab meat and roe, to pan-fried hairy crab shell stuffed with shrimp paste and pork. There is also a six-course set, which, apart from steamed hairy crab, offers other scrumptious dishes such as deep-fried cod fish and claypot braised bird’s nest dumpling.

Available until 30 November, 2016.

Shang Palace, Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, Orange Grove Road, Singapore 258350, +65 6213 4473/ 4398, www.shangri-la.com

3
Hai Tien Lo

Known for its refined Cantonese cuisine, Hai Tien Lo has put together a six-course menu and several à la carte offerings that showcase the natural sweetness of hairy crabs. Its highlights span sautéed crab with ginger spring onion, pork dumplings filled with crab meat and roe, and braised pork shoulder with crab meat and roe in oyster sauce. Wash these down with fresh ginger tea for maximum satisfaction.

Available until 27 November, 2016.

Hai Tien Lo, Pan Pacific Singapore, 7 Raffles Boulevard, Singapore 039595, +65 6826 8240, www.panpacific.com

4
Szechuan Court & Kitchen

Tuck into mouthwatering concoctions the likes of steamed hairy crabs with shiso leaf, crab meat consommé, and stewed hairy crab with aged Chinese wine at Szechuan Court. Also available are unconventional options such as a scrambled egg white tart with crab roe, as well as a combination of roe, handmade ramen and golden pumpkin soup. The restaurant sources its crabs from Yangcheng Lake in China’s Jiangsu province.

Available until 24 November, 2016.

Szechuan Court & Kitchen, Fairmont Singapore, 80 Bras Basah Road, Singapore 189560, +65 6431 6156, www.fairmont.com

5
Min Jiang

Whether you prefer your crab baked, braised or steamed, Min Jiang at Goodwood Park Hotel has got your cravings covered. Its set menus present dishes such as steamed hairy crab with glutinous rice, while its à la carte creations range from xiao long bao with crab meat to baked crab with ginger rice wine. Round off your hearty meal with delectable desserts like black sesame glutinous rice dumplings in ginger tea.

Available until 15 November, 2016.

Min Jiang, Goodwood Park Hotel, 22 Scotts Road, Singapore 228221, +65 6730 1704, www.goodwoodparkhotel.com

Sara Yap
Deputy Director, Digital Operations (Asia)
Sara Yap is the Deputy Director of Digital Operations at BurdaLuxury, and a contributing writer to Lifestyle Asia’s dining and jewellery beats. When she’s not on the lookout for exciting new restaurants or bejewelled trinkets, she’s probably buried in a riveting read, or reminiscing the good ol’ days with her favourite playlist of ’90s boyband hits.