Sunday, 25 October 2009

Food Journey #30 - "Shanghainese" Buffet at Clipper Lounge

Time flies when you are busy and another year has arrived for the Hairy Crab Season. I was invited by the hotel team to sample Clipper Lounge's latest Shanghainese Lunch Buffet. Least to say, my last visit to Clipper Lounge for a proper was easily 3 yrs ago and majority of my visits were really for their signature & legendary high teas. Before my visit, I was extremely curious on how the setting & food was gonna be and it just turned out to be exactly what I had in mind. Don't get me wrong, it is an interesting approach but the theme of Shanghainese Lunch Buffet could be slightly mis-leading to real Shanghai food lovers. It was a very traditional approach by a hotel group as there technically were only a few handful of dishes that were remotely Shanghainese and the remaining dishes were catered for their regular patrons, hotel guests, tourists etc such as Fresh Sashimi, Seafood Platter, Roast Beef Carving Section etc. If you are heading to Clipper Lounge with the hope of feasting on items like Beggar's Chicken (乞丐雞), Shanghai Style Nian Gao (Shanghai Style Fried Sticky Cake), Drunken Chicken (醉雞), Dan Dan Noodles (Szechuan Spicy Noodle 擔擔麵) etc, you will be disappointed.

Although, it was slightly disappointing that the choices for Shanghainese dishes were minimal, the usual suspects were lying around such as Xian Long Bao, Fried Dumplings, Sweet & Sour Fish Fillet, Shanghainese Stir Fry Noodles etc.

Highly Recommended Dishes / Selections:

To be honest, I didn't really try out the Shanghainese items on offer but instead, what caught my eye was the Sashimi Platter + Sushi Platter + Seafood Platter on offer.

Sashimi Platter - Very ordinary selection with no major surprises such as Salmon, Octopus, Maguro, Ebi, Surf Clam etc. Salmon was extremely fresh and melts in your mouth and I had to enjoy a 2nd round on this. Another bonus point is a kudos to their team on the speed in replenishing the sashimi to ensure they are always fresh from the chef's knives!

Seafood Platter - Oyster from Chile & New Zealand, Mussel, Crab Legs, Crayfish, King Prawns, Whelks were all on offer and special mention must be the Oyster selection as was so fresh that you can still taste the freshness of the sea-water. It is not easy to find restaurants or hotels in Hong Kong that has a good oyster selection but I can definitely recommend Clipper Lounge for this. The sizes of the oyster were also very consistent unlike other hotels or restaurants whereby the oyster sizes for your sea-platter vary a large range in sizes. Another bonus point was the speed in replenishing the seafood platter was a speed of lightning and the seafood was always on offer.

Roast Beef -
Another surprise of the lunch was Roast Beef considering I have never been a fan of such item maybe due to the fact that I have eaten this every weekend for the past 15 yrs. However, this roastbeef was a lot better than my previous review on the ClearwaterBay Country club's roastbeef and it matched perfectly well with some good English Mustard The roast beef was tender, pink in just the form I like it.

Bread Basket
- Believe it or not, the bread basket was for me the CHEER OF THE DAY and please see below photo of the rectangular shaped bread and a big thumbs up to the pastry chef who baked this fine piece of bread. This in my opinion has got to be one of the finest piece of bakery skills in the whole of Hong Kong as it was warm, soft & extremely floury. I cannot quite work out what it is exactly but it tasted like a combination of a combined scone & muffin. The bread was so delicious that I also finished my lunch partner's share and it has enough reasons for me to return to The Clipper Lounge for another meal.<

Shanghai Hairy Crabs

The Clipper Lounge Shanghainese Buffet also included a Hairy Crab to each guests and it was quite an experience eating such delicacy as this is the best season for such item. Why are they called Hairy Crab - because they are an extremely hairy crustacean with hard as bristle hair on their legs and their pincers have hair as well, which is as thick as seaweed.

Such crab is a famous delicacy in traditional Shanghai cuisine and us Hong Kongers prey on the female crab roe which is the the GEM and the reason to why people pay thousands of dollars for such yellow or orange crab roe. The crab itself does not have much meat due to its relatively small size and is best served steamed with ginger vinegar sauce. From a Chinese medical perspective, the crab meat is also believed to have a "cooling" effect on the body which balances out the Yin-Yan composition of a body. One note on eating this, watch out on your cholestrerol levels.

Since the hairy crabs at the Clipper Lounge were complimentary to all guests, I didnt expect the crabs to be full of surprises. The Captain brought us the crabs skipping step 1 as below which was fundamental to ensure to guests the freshness of the crab. The size of crabs were relatively small which was disappointing BUT when I cracked open the cover, there was SO MUCH CRAB ROE which I was very pleased with. The flavour of the crab roe was extremely fresh & pungent and it was a definite treat on eating such delicacy. Very little meat in the hairy crab but again, who cares as I am a crab roe lover!

Steps in Eating a Hairy Crab!

1) Place the hairy crab flat on your table so that you both should be looking at each other as you want a crab that is alive and kicking.

2) Steam the Crab for 20 mins with simply ginger & herbs and should be more than ready!

3) Take off the crab cover and if you crab is a female specimen, you should find all the golden roe and get tucked in.

4) Pull off the crab legs and snap the legs in two. Use your chopstick to gently push the crab meat out or you can also suck out the meat. This is where you taste all the flavourful, sweet chunks of crab meet and please eat everything aside from the lungs, a brown coloured fat sac & intestines.

5) Beware that most of the juiciest flesh are in the claws and please ask your server for a delicate cracker to open this part.

6) Best wine pairing with Hairy Crab must be Chinese Hua Diao Wine or Sherry.

Key areas to improve are:

a) As a leading 5-star hotel operator reknowned for its services to guests, I found the service during the lunch slightly unattentive at times especially the speed in changing used plates & refilling hot water for my Chinese Tea considerably slow at time. Perhaps some of the speed in replenishing the seafood & sashimi can be transformed to this area.

b) Level of English ability from staff has areas of improvement as the Food Captain was explaining to us on how to eat a Hairy Crab and I honestly did not understand 50% of what she was mumbling about. Imagine what would a demanding hotel guest react to her mumbling! Not Good!

Despite what was a Shanghainese Buffet theme was perhaps slightly misleading as majority of the dishes on offer were not remotely Shanghainese. Nonetheless, the quality of the other dishes on offer were extremely fresh & full of flavours and I do highly recommend our fellow readers to check out the lunch buffet at Clipper Lounge. Remember, do try out the bread basket as that was the gem of the lunch experience at Clipper Lounge.


Address: Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 5 Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong (中環干諾道中5號香港文華東方酒店閣樓
Tel: 2825 4007

Food Quality (5* the highest): 3*

Price for Lunch (5$ = very expensive): ****



  1. Great post. Keep writing.
    I love crab...

  2. Hi Rayfil,

    Thank you for dropping by and Hairy Crabs are an awesome breed! Do you get such specie in the US & A?

    Happy Eating!

  3. shanghaiese buffet eh? nice! i am a sucker for buffets. thanks for the info ;)

  4. Hi Rita,

    This is a very interesting buffet indeed and hit & miss for sure. I like your blog very much as well and have added it to my favourite daily reads. Please also add my blog roll to your page.

    We also have a facebook fan page @

    Happy Eating!