Hairy Crabs Hit Shanghai

Hairy crabs, or dazhaxie, have an extremely short season, from mid September to mid December, but what they lack in seasonality they make up for in taste.

Weighing around 180 to 250 grams, the hairy critters have a naturally rich taste, and are quite often served whole, lightly steamed. Although the small pieces of meat are difficult to remove from the exoskeleton, the energy expensed in retrieving the tiny morsels makes the fleshy prize all the sweeter.
For beginners, we suggest pulling the bottom side of the hairy crab away from the body in order to lever open the top shell and expose the dazzling, orange yolk-like substance inside. After slurping up the roe, with lashings of sweetened rice wine vinegar, break the body in half to separate the slender claws and legs. For a richer taste, pick a female crab for their silky sweet centre. To truly feel like a local, heed their sage advice and balance the yin of the cold hairy crab with the yang of a warming element, such as ginger tea or huangjiu.
The most prized hairy crabs come from in and around the deep, cold waters of Yangcheng Lake, so ensure that you eat the best specimens by visiting one of these restaurants.
Whampoa Club

The elegant restaurant is celebrating Shanghai’s signature delicacy with an extensive range of dishes featuring the best hairy crabs from Tai Lake, just upriver from Yangcheng Lake. Enjoy the succulent crustacean in dishes on the a la carte menu, such as double boiled crab roe with tofu (RMB 128), xiaolongbao with crab meat (RMB 18) or, the grand prize itself, full, steamed hairy crabs (RMB 398 per crab). Alternatively, enjoy one of the special set menus (starting at RMB 688 per person for 10 dishes) to truly get to grips with this famous ingredient.
Whampoa Club @ Three On The Bund. 5/F, 3 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Guangdong Lu. Tel: (021) 6321 3737. Web:

Xindalu-China Kitchen

This Bund-side restaurant has unveiled a menu of Yangcheng Lake hairy crab dishes to capitalise on one of the finest flavours in Chinese cuisine. Crabmeat and crab roe sautéed with sesame, crab roe braised with shredded mandarin and crab claws wok-fried with asparagus are among the highlights of the menu and showcase the delicate evolution of traditional hairy crab recipes.
Xindalu-China Kitchen @ Hyatt On The Bund. 199 Huangpu Lu, near Wuchang Lu. Tel: (021) 6393 1234. Web:
Wugu Restaurant @ Fairmont Yangcheng Lake
Travel to Yangcheng Lake, where the hairy crab are specially selected to ensure they are the finest specimens – juicy, tender and weighing at least 250 grams each, to experience the freshest fare. The hotel is currently offering a ‘Real Crab in Real Style’ package, starting from RMB 2,088 per night and available from September until December. The package includes one night accommodation in a luxurious room, welcome amenities, complimentary breakfast for two and one pair of hairy crabs per room along with a Chinese set dinner.
Wugu Restaurant. Fairmont Yangcheng Lake. 3668 Ma’anshan Xi Lu, Kunshan, Suzhou. Tel: (512) 5780 0888. Web: