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A five-star hotel Autumn Crab Feast

By Josie Wu Translated by Li Fan Chen & Cara Steenstra

As autumn sets in, it's time again for crab season. Most five-star hotels are presenting autumn crab specials. Whether they're steamed or cooked in more creative ways, it is definitely time for crab!

The Westin Taipei
Cool autumn is a perfect season for savoring crab. In early September, The Westin Taipei started offering autumn crab dishes. The hotel's Liu Yuan Shanghai Restaurant, Yi Yuan Peking Restaurant, Gi-On Japanese Restaurant, and Danielis' Italian Restaurant all offer a variety of hairy crab dishes. In particular, Yi Yuan Peking Restaurant Executive Chef Yang De-Xing has provided a creative crab set meal. Besides the traditional way of steaming, Chef Yang has invented a new closed steaming style which using peach tree leaves to wrap the hairy crabs. Mixed with additional herbal flavors, the crabs retain their sweet, natural flavors when steamed. "Hsieh Wang" style hairy crab, originating in Beijing, is the most popular style of cooking crab in mainland China and is spicy and delicious. Individual dishes that showcase the chef's creative skills include Chilled King Crab with Ginger and Vinegar, Stir-Fried Shawl Crab with Spicy Seafood Sauce, and Stir-Fried Crabs with Osmanthus Sauce. Yi Yuan's Hairy Crab Set Menu (NT$2,800/person) features Chilled Mullet with Clams, Braised Shark's Fin Soup with Dried Scallops, Steamed or Stewed Hairy Crab with Stewed Whole Abalone and Crab Roe, Steamed Angle Luffa with Clams and Butter, Sweet Coconut Milk with Lotus Seed, and seasonal fresh fruit platter. Call (02) 8770-6565 for information.
Hotel Royal Taipei
This year, Hotel Royal Taipei presents Sri Lankan Crabs. This Sri Lankan Crab was originally a limited-edition dish on the August menu presented by Chef Yao Jia-Xiong at the Ming Gong Cantonese Restaurant. Due to popular demand, however, it has been added to the main menu, available for the original price of NT$1,200. Sri Lankan Crabs are not seasonal like most other crabs and can be savored year round. However, Chef Yao wants his guests to taste only the best, so these crabs are air-freighted to Taiwan on a daily basis. Therefore, reservations are a must. Sri Lankan Crabs each weigh around 1 kilogram or more and contain lots of meat. Chef Yao recommends trying the Chilli Crab, Curry Crab or HuaDiao Crab. Chilli Crab is made with various kinds of chilli and crushed garlic and Curry Crab is prepared with Indian curry, whereas HuaDiao Crab is fully soaked in HuaDiao wine. Small "mantou" buns come with the dish and can be dipped in chilli sauce. The sauces can also be eaten with pasta or congee for a different taste. Call (02) 2542-3266 for information.
Ambassador Taipei Limited Tasting
Among its various crab dishes, the Ambassador Hotel Taipei favors hairy crabs from Yang Cheng Lake and steaming as their main cooking method. "Only steamed crabs can retain their natural flavors," says Executive Chef Cheng Yen Chi. During this season, the meat of the female crab ovaries and male crabs is much greater than normal, and Chef Cheng recommends that clients order a pair of male and female crabs when they dine. The Taipei Ambassador is promoting the Hairy Crab Deluxe Meal which showcases the crabs' original flavors and appearance. During steaming, dried perilla is placed on the crabs to preserve their flavors and remove fishy odors. As crabs are considered a "cold" food by Chinese, they are served with proportional amounts of vinegar and ginger sauce. This not only warms the belly and circulation, but is also best enjoyed with a warm wine, such as Shaohsing or high-grade "Hua Diao" Shaohsing. Each hairy crab deluxe meal is NT$1,800. A two-person serving is NT$1,700/person and group servings are NT$1,600/person; all are offered with a glass of vintage Shaohsing wine. For information, call (02) 2100-2100, ext. 2370?2376 (Canton Court), ext. 2383?2385 (Szechuan Court)
The Sheraton Taipei Wine and Crab Tasting
Between the months of September and October, when the crabs are sumptuous and tasty, The Sheraton is promoting two NT$2,400 Shanghai and Hong Kong style wine and crab set meals at The Guest House Shanghainese restaurant and The Dragon Cantonese restaurant. Each diner will receive a complimentary glass of special mainland Chinese Shaohsing wine. The restaurants use simple steaming and boiling preparation methods. Head Chef Zheng Ching Lin puts dried perilla in the steamers and steams the crabs at high heat to retain the crabs' sweet, fresh flavors. Head Chef Chen also uses the traditional style of preparing crabs in water soaked with dried perilla when cooking. The chefs all stress that the true way to savor these crabs is to slowly enjoy their original sweet, aromatic flavors without adding any other spices or condiments. Call (02) 2321-1818 for information.

Grand Formosa Regent Taipei Intercontinental Crab Feast
New Food & Beverage Executive Assistant Manager Claudio Melli emphasizes in-season delicacies at his hotel. Therefore, autumn crabs are the focus in October. Besides hairy crabs, which are popular on the both sides of the Taiwan Straits, crabs from all over the world are also in season. In order to offer classic crab dishes from different parts of the world, the Regent Taipei uses seven crabs types for seven cuisine styles. The WASABI Dining Bar offers Steamed Okhotsk Sea Crab with Japanese Roasted Rice Tea, full of Japanese flavors; and Shanghainese Steamed Pagarus with Spring Onion, a new choice for those who love to eat crabs. The Formosa Club provides Cantonese Buttered Virgin Mud Crab, while Robin's Grill serves French Surf 'n' Turf with Chilean Spider Crab. Azie features Sri Lanka Crab with Singaporean Chili, and Cafe Studio has Homemade Fettuccine in Zucchini Sauce with Shawl Crabmeat and Porcini Mushrooms. Finally, the Gallery offers Blue Crab Swiss Cheesecake. All are part of the Grand Formosa Regent Taipei Intercontinental Crab Feast--a journey of crab cuisine from around the world. Grand Formosa Regent Taipei call (02) 2523-8000 and ask for specific restaurant. WASABI Japanese Cuisine (02) 8101-8166.

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