Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Of Dimsum and Hairy Crabs at Shang Palace Singapore

17 October 2015. 

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This date, I believe, will definitely go down in my personal history as the day when my foodie dreams came true. You see, it was when I joined a group of food bloggers for lunch at Shang Palace where we sampled the newest dimsum offering by Chef Li Shou Tan. In addition to that, our said lunch coincided with the start of the great Hairy Crab festival so we were also able to try some of the dishes being offered for that. What amazing luck! 

You see, Paul and I have been wanting to try that much-talked-about hairy crab after seeing multiple posts from our friend Jin on a yearly basis. Year on year, we would promise ourselves that we will go try it out but as always, our schedules would always get so hectic that before we know it, the hairy crab has bade us goodbye. "Let's try again next year," we would say as we console each other for yet another failed attempt. Finally, 2015 was the year when I had my first taste of the hairy crab. Will I like it? Let's see about that. 

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Our meal began with a pretty basket of Steamed Lobster Dumpling with Bitter gourd. This is a very interesting combination and a bold one too as not a lot of people are crazy about bitter gourd. Luckily, I'm a big fan and I love the slight bitter kick that I got as I bit into my dumpling. The lobster meat was very succulent and fresh. 


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Following this was a delicious trio -- the Shang Palace Dimsum Combination consisting of Steamed Boletus Aereus dumpling, Baked Crispy Barbecued Pork Bun, and the Deep-Fried Shredded Turnip Pastry with Foie Gras. Among the three, my heart belongs to the Boletus Aereus dumpling. For those who may not know, this is a highly sought-after and quite expensive type of mushroom which I don't think is widely available, at least in this part of the world. I love how light it was and the minced mushroom inside gave each bite a bit more character. 

The Baked Crispy Barbecued Pork Bun had a nice light and fluffy texture while the Deep-Fried Shredded Turnip with Foie Gras was admittedly a bit of a let-down. When I found out that it had foie gras inside, I excited bit into it but after consuming the entire piece, I couldn't detect or spot any. Perhaps the foie gras melted away? Not quite sure. :-/ 

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Moving on, we had the Steamed Turnip Cake with Egg White and Conpoy. I love turnip cake and this one was very interesting! I love how it has a very creamy and custard-like texture pretty similar to my Japanese favorite Chawan Mushi. It's a cool and modern take on the usually pan-fried turnip cake. 

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Next was the Steamed Siew Mai with Fish Roe, Prawn and Mushroom. Perhaps in our dimsum-eating lifetime, siew mai was probably one of the first dimsums that we were introduced to. It's the most commonly sold dimsum item in most countries as you can even get it in your favorite convenience stores! However, Shang Palace has successfully elevated this common-man dimsum to a top quality masterpiece. I enjoyed the meat, extenders-free filling which had a generous portion of chopped prawns and mushrooms and topped with some fish roe. It was a comforting dish that's very familiar yet has it still managed to excite my taste buds with its slight modern twist. 

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The Steamed Rice Roll (Cheong Fan) with Barbecued Pork and Parsley reminded me of Paul as this is his favorite dish! I love the silky rice roll wrapper and the bite-sized slices of char siu pork inside was just so yummy! 

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One dimsum creation that's unique in Singapore is definitely anything with chilli crab meat inside! The Pan-Fried Bun with Chilli Crab Meat is definitely a must-try. I love the contrasting texture of the crunchy outer coating and the creamy, slightly sweet and spicy crab meat filling inside. 

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Take a look inside. Definitely drool-worthy right? I love how generous they were with the filling and each piece were well pan-fried all throughout. 

Moving on to the star of our meal -- the glorious Hairy Crab! Weeeeee!! 

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We started with the Braised Tofu with Hairy Crab Meat and Roe (S$36/portion). Apparently, what makes the hairy crab so popular is its roe...lots and lots of it and sadly, very few precious meat. For lazy people like me, this is a perfect dish to have. The chef has painstakingly removed all the meaty, yummy crab meat and cooked it together with silky tofu, egg white and edamame beans. While I not really a big fan of crab roe, I liked this dish a lot! 

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The second hairy crab dish was the Braised Hairy Crab with "Shiso" leaves and Glass Noodles (S$96/portion). Ah... the dish will force you to get down and dirty. How? By using your hands as you devour each piece of the hairy crab, of course. I'm no expert in crab "de-shelling" so I think I must have left quite a lot of crab meat behind. I love the flat glass noodles though which tasted like hofun and the sauce was very savory too. 

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What a feast! To balance out the "cooling" effect of the crab, we had some Ginger Tea with Glutinous Rice Ball for dessert as well as the Steamed Layer Cake with Salted Egg. Apparently, there's such thing as heating and cooling effects and those are really important to achieve good health. As such, it's normal to be served with ginger tea together with your hairy crab to get this balance. The glutinous rice balls (汤圆) were really yummy! We also enjoyed the Salted Egg Layered Cake which had a nice sponge-y bite and of course, anything with salted egg will always be a delight to eat. Thsi is definitely, one of the best Chinese desserts that I've had ever!

The dimsum offerings will permanently be part of Shang Palace's menu line-up but if you want to try the special Hairy Crab dishes, then you have till end of this month to do so before it bids us goodbye again.

Visit Shang Palace at the Lobby Level of the Tower Wing in Shangri-la Hotel, Singapore. For reservations, call them at +65-62134473.

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