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Oct 30, 2010 03:21 PM

Qiao Tei 橋底辣蟹 (Under the Bridge Chili Crab) – Amazing Chili Crab in Hong Kong

**for full post and pics**:

Qiao Tei (橋底辣蟹) is one of several places on Lockhart Road in Wan Chai that is famous for their chili crab, not Singaporean chili crab, but rather a Cantonese chili crab that is completely different. My friends in Hong Kong recommended this place as they said it’s their favorite one out of the bunch.

It’s a pretty rowdy place (I loved the atmosphere) that is super crowded and has lots of people happily eating and drinking. It’s definitely not an upscale place, but rather a no-frills type of place to eat some great food and have a good time with friends. The service was fine, they were pretty nice, but they are running around a lot since the place is very busy.

Let’s get to the food:
- Chili crab: this is going to sound like a bit of a bold statement, but this is single handily one of the best dishes I’ve ever had. As much as I like very refined food, my favorite foods are generally much more low key foods that are delicious and this is a perfect example. Its crab fried that is covered in a huge amount of fried crispy garlic, scallions and peppers. This garlic is weird because it’s super crispy and it’s not nearly as strong as regular garlic cloves, so you can eat a lot of it, I was literally eating spoonfuls of it. The crab meat has such a good sweet flavor and combined everything else is just so good. I just can’t say enough about how good this was.
- Spare ribs: I don’t know what this was called in Chinese b/c I didn’t order anything (big group of like 8-9 people and I let my friends order since they knew more about the food there then I did). These were awesome. They were battered and fried and then glazed with a sweet and sour sauce, but these were different than jing du pai gu as they were less sweet and brownish as opposed to red, there were some pineapples in the clay pot as well. The meat was nice and tender, the sauce wasn’t overly sweet. Overall, just really awesome dish.
- Braised fish head: this is the one thing I ordered, I showed up a little late so they had already ordered, but I saw fish head soup on the menu and it looked good. The guy told me they ran out, but he had braised fish head that was very good, so I said okay. This was awesome. It was chunks of fish head braised in a sort of spicy soy sauce with chilis and scallions; similar to a hong shao preparation (red cooked). The meat on the head was so tender, not fishy at all and the sauce tasted amazing with this dish, super good.
- Spicy clams: my friend ordered this, another “wow” type of dish. Clams stir fried in this brown spicy sauce, so flavorful. The sauce was amazing, wasn’t heavy or goopy, not too salty just really good. The clams were very fresh tasting too.
- Chili mantis prawn: same thing as chili crab with mantis prawn, really good. I forgot that mantis prawn can be really good if you cook it right, tastes like a slightly sweeter lobster, another huge winner.

Overall, I really like this place a lot. If you happen to be in Hong Kong, I highly recommend going here, it’s a lot of fun and a great restaurant.

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  1. Gosh I miss HK. Those pictures are amazing. The crab and clams look especially great, but what is really getting me salivating are the mantis prawns---shellfish I can't get in restaurants here in San Francisco.

    1 Reply
    1. re: PegS

      yah this place is super good. Everything was really good, the mantis prawns were definitely a star. You can get them in the US occasionally, i see them in chinatown in NY every once in a while, i haven't tried them, but i heard they aren't nearly as good

    2. I go there a lot as I stay in CWB when in town.
      Going to have to try those ribs next weekend.

      1 Reply
      1. re: koknia

        the ribs are awesome, u should def try

      2. I agree, it's awesome. However, I was not able to reach a decision about whether it was better than Hee Kee, in the same area. They both seemed excellent to me.

        I'd sure love to try the clams you mention, they sound fantastic. But I'd need a group to do so, because the crab alone is more than enough to fill me up when dining solo.

        I believe there are two locations for Under The Bridge, within a single block, which is really odd. But I'm pretty sure it's the same outfit running both. I've never heard any opinions that suggest one is any better than the other.

        3 Replies
        1. re: SoupNoodles

          yah i think there are actually four places, hee kee, choi kee and two qiao tei places. The one i went to is actually off lockhart even though the address is lockhart (the other one is on lockhart). I haven't tried the other ones, so i can't say whether this one or the others are better. Although i would like to try the others.

          Everything i had was quite good, the clams are awesome

          1. re: Lau

            You are so lucky that you had a good group to share! i need to go back to HK straight away! That is my kind of place, for certain. Many thanks!

            1. re: erica

              yah its really good, you would love it

        2. Lau,

          What kind of crab do they use in the chili crab dish? It's not Shanghai hairy crabs, are they? Those are truly amazing.

          Come to think of it ... It is hairy crab season ... roe lovers unite and rejoice!

          4 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            It is the exact same restaurant (except booked to have the chefs cook the crab on a boat) as Anthony Bourdain's episode of No Reservations: Hong Kong. I want to say the crabs they use are either local or SE Asian, but I can't remember. (I'm sure Chinese bloggers will mention somewhere as to the origin of the crabs)

            But they are absolutely not Shanghai hairy crabs, that's an utter total waste of the crustacean.
            It is interesting though that even counterfeit hairy crabs have made their way into HK markets (at a fraction of the original) and they are literally poisoning customers.

            If Lau ever re-visits HK, it seems that the seafood mecca is Lau Fo Shan, about 30 mins drive from Yuen Long, where the freshwater sources intersect at some point with saltware from Zhu-hai, and the local seafood is quite amazing from oysters to clams to fish.

            As far as mantis prawns go, the large and phat ones are imported from SE Asia (the best from Indonesia), as local mantis prawns are dingy and chewy/tough.

            1. re: K K

              ipsedixit - i'm not actually sure, but they are definitely not hairy crab, which are quite small. The crabs here are fairly large. there are a bunch of hairy crab restaurants i want to try in HK, the one hairy crab thing i did get was at fu sing. check my post on fu sing, their hairy crab soup dumplings are amazing:

              K K - thanks for the rec, lau fo shan is in the new territories right? any specific restaurant recommendations there? i go to HK usually once a year, so i have an on-going restaurant list of places i want to try

              1. re: Lau

                Yeah it's actually Lau Fau Shan 流浮山. I've yet to go there myself but have read up a little on the subject. There's a great oyster farm in the area, and a 1500 year old temple just for starters.

                Here's a Chinese listing of some Lau Fau Shan restaurants


                Arguably the most famous seafood restaurant there is

                歡樂海鮮酒家(Happiness Seafood Restaurant
                )流浮山 山東街12號
                Tel:2472 3450/ 2472 3680

                There is one English review in the openrice listing


                The reason why this place is famous amongst foodies is because of the genius young creative chef there who goes by B "Gor" (Brother "B), real name 劉嘉麟 (a Lau Fau Shan native), and supposedly has won some international (French) awards (and isn't even 30 years old yet), and makes some fantastic dishes out of the seafood. It is said he made his first dan dan noodles broth with pork and shrimp at age 8, cooked his first Yangzhou fried rice standing on top of a box of soda at age 13, was already a star and executive chef at a local seafood restaurant at age 14. Some media claims he is equally important (and talented) as chef 楊貫一 (Yeung Koon Yat), also known as the abalone master (exec chef of The Forum / Ah Yut Abalone), or Lei Gardens former? exec chef 黃永幟 who supposedly invented the mango sago pommelo coconut juice fusion dim sum dessert.

                You can check out this clip, circa 2:48


                If you like mantis prawn, his prep of 麻香瀨尿蝦, similar to a salt and pepper prep but with sesame seeds, is supposedly spectacular. Brother B imports them from Indonesia (per a TV program I saw) as he thinks they are better quality than the ones from Thailand or Malaysia.

                油鹽焗奄仔蟹 (salt water baked local crab). These crabs kinda sorta look like Shanghai crab, but different (and way cheaper). They're called "Yeem Jai Hai" to specially refer to the females species of the darker green crabs carrying a ton of roe after mating with their male counterparts. They do have the rich eggy roe in them, and I hear "B" injects rose wine into them before steaming, a secret technique to bring out the flavors. The season for Yeem Jai Hai is in May and September (lunar calendar). Around June, the crabs shed their outer shell and stay in a hibernation mode, as their protective layer is gone, so they eat enough to keep them alive during the June timeframe (and as a result are fatter more delicious in May). Those that survive till September will grow to its fullest size and will be more meaty.

                食神炒飯 (God of Cookery Fried Rice). Supposedly the signature dish and a must order. Scallops, mushrooms, squid, stir fried with rice and egg until the rice is golden yellow, dry but not greasy, then layered with fish or crab roe.

                Supposedly even his ginger scallion oyster dishes are really good. B is a firm believer of cooking an oyster about 70% tops to seal in the natural juices.