Hairy Crab Feast at Si Ji Xuan at the Four Seasons Shanghai (Shanghai, China)
The Four Seasons Shanghai is one of the first luxury hotels in the city. (Let’s be clear about this and don’t confuse the other Four Seasons location in Pudong that’s opened in recent years.) This location in Puxi is centrally located in the downtown business district where there’s many commercial banks and company headquarters and see lots of white collared workers come out for a catered lunch as you’d pass by, and of course, luxury shopping malls to peruse or shop to your heart’s content.
The Four Seasons is bright and beautiful. The high-backed velvet chairs and contemporary chandeliers and modern Chinese artwork makes it all feel regal. Do note though, this lobby and the entire hotel is all going to change since this hotel will be renovating soon – and they will be shutting down operations for a year or so to refresh the lobby and the rooms.
We are here for lunch at Si Ji Xuan. This Michelin recommended restaurant primarily focuses on Shanghainese cuisine. The native Shanghainese chef offers a menu that reflects his heritage, although there are also some Cantonese dishes available as well as dim sum at lunch.
We started off with the classic drunken shrimp. Originally, the local shrimp would be alive and literally marinated in Chinese wine until it’s ready to eat. However, since the government does not permit restaurants to do this the kitchen partially cooks the shrimp and then marinate it in this sweet wine. The shrimp was sweet (both the flesh and the wine), super fresh and has this desirable crunch. It was incredibly good.
We ate a lot of dishes and since it was peak hairy crab season we tried a few different dishes. The two I truly adored were the deep bowl of picked hairy crab meat in this semi-thick sauce and simply served with steamed baby bok choy and the hairy crab meat with mung bean sheets. The first dish was an easy one to love since it’s effortless eating – no need to pick through the crabs’ shells and deal with the mess – and there’s about ten crabs worth of meat in that bowl! I wast tempted to order a bowl of rice but I had to hold off since we had a lot of food.
The crab dish with mung bean sheets was not a photogenic dish but it’s drool worthy. The creamy crab roe and egg sauce mixed with sweet crab meat and silky mung bean sheets that are essentially noodles for this dish. I adored this one so much and happily ate two servings of this.
Another local Shanghainese dish but of course, a refined version, is the deep fried short ribs with a sweet and tangy black vinegar sauce. This is the most exquisite version of the rib dish I’ve ever eaten. The ribs were meaty and cooked very well that it still maintained the subtle crispness even though it’s coated in the sweet-tart sauce made with vinegar and the meat was still very juicy and tender.
The remaining dishes we had were very good but these dishes I’ve mentioned were the ones I still dream about. Service was detail oriented and professional and I would definitely come back again.