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Nov 9, 2012 04:25 PM

Looking for Under Bridge Spicy Crab Dish Found in Hong Kong

I was just reading about the mouthwatering Under Bridge Spicy Crab dish found in Hong Kong. I couldn't possibly find this in the Bay Area... could I?

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  1. Empero Taste, Golden Gate Dim Sum, and Chu Kong in Millbrae serve bay fung tong hai aka typhoon shelter crab.

    1. It's also called Wanchai crab, referring to the neighborhood in Hong Kong. And you'll see various phonetic spellings for bei fung tong. Yum's Bistro in Fremont serves it, here's the crab menu,

      And a link to our crab chowdown last year, though bei fung tong hai was not one of the dishes we ordered, the various preps are listed. Yum's Bistro is one of my top picks for Cantonese cooking in the Bay Area, wish it were closer to me.

      1. It is important to note that the original receipe of Typhoon Shelter Crab has changed throughout the years. Initially the crabs were served on boats in the typhoon shelter of Causeway Bay in the 50s and 60s, and had a heavy use of fermented black bean sauce/paste (see 12th picture for what it originally looked like


        Eventually the HK government banned the selling of food and operating restaurants on such boats, that forced businesses to relocate on land. It was probably in the early 1990s when that happened, and was when the receipe morphed into the chili garlic piles you see today (see 11th picture of that blog), of which Hing Kee in Hong Kong is the only vendor that preserved the original receipe, and kept the garlic chili version separate (calling it "golden sand crab"). Under Bridge Spicy crab is basically doing a variant of the golden sand version, with a lot of chilis.
        Other copycats (and ones in the USA) basically took a variation on a golden sand/crispy garlic theme with chilis and called it typhoon shelter crab, which somewhat became the norm. Or some might reduce the labor of dicing up a ton of garlic and basically do a salt pepper batter with chilis and some garlic.

        The version of "Under Bridge" spicy crab at Yum's is excellent in itself during the winter months and can be considered a different interpretation, but has less resemblance to Under Bridge (or Hing Kee for that matter).

        I would think Koi Palace could possibly pull something like that off as well given the kitchen's skills, but you would have to be very specific in how you ask for the Under Bridge version.

        1 Reply
        1. re: K K

          Very interesting post. I just returned from HK where we tried the famed Wanchai UBSC. We were a little stunned when they charged for US ~$65 for one crab. At first we thought we were getting ripped off, but when we dug in, my dad (who is an old Chinese chef himself) says that the pile of "sand" is actually a mountain of XO sauce (dried scallops, shrimp, garlic, chilis and other seasonings). Probably $50 worth. He was practically crying that we couldn't save the sauce. There is a good online description of how they cook the crab in oil. So if you know how to make XO sauce, you could probably make a fabulous version with local Dungeness.

        2. Now that local crab season is open, hoping to hear some first mouth reports on UBSC around here.

          1. As some have mentioned Yum's Bistro serves an amazing version of typhoon shelter crab. If you don't want to venture to Fremont, there's also Bay Fung Tong in in Oakland, which serves up their namesake delectable version at a reasonable price compared to Yum's. I save Yum's for special occasions and BFT for regular outings.

            1 Reply
            1. re: spinn1

              +1 for yum's. it is awesome. worth the trip.

              in addition to their under-the-bridge crab, i'd recommend their wonton noodle soup. would love to hear other suggestions for side-dishes at yum's.