As we grow older–or if you prefer euphemistically, “as we mature”– we sometimes remember a place we visited or some food we tasted long ago and there is a desire to re-capture the same experience. I am a believer that every moment or experience is unique and to hope that things will stay the same only opens oneself to disappointment. However, it does not mean that I do not want to return to a place I used to know, because usually there is something new to be discovered.
I embarked on a culinary trip into nostalgia to what used to be known as the typhoon shelter area in Wanchai, on Hong Kong Island and the restaurant was called Under Bridge Spicy Crab.
The restaurant is so-called because it is situated under the legendary Goose Neck Bridge (Canal Road Bridge) to the locals.
The typhoon shelter was long gone and replaced by reclaimed land. However the restaurant which used to get its ingredients fresh off the fishing boats at the shelter still remained. Over 20 years ago, it started off as a dai pai dong (a street stall where patrons eat sitting on an elevated bench facing the counter or at a small table in the open) at this location. It has grown into a chain of restaurants in the same area. The owner now has to obtain his daily catch from other seafood markets. He picks crabs from Vietnam and Australia, among other seafood.
The spicy chili crab and the curry crab were equally famous and I chose the former. Spiciness came in five levels, and the “least spicy” was just good for me, in spite of my fondness for spicy dishes. So be prepared in case you want to challenge yourself. The aroma of the deep fried garlic and scallion tickled my olfactory sense. The crab was meaty and the crab cream tasted divine.
To balance the spiciness, I ordered a milder dish of stir fry garlic stalk and all went well with a bowl of steam rice.
The restaurant gets busy soon after six o’clock in the evening. It is always good to make a reservation in advance to save yourself lining up on the sidewalk waiting for your number to be called. Service is mediocre, because the waiters seem to be busy all the time. I asked for the steamed rice, which took a very long time to arrive. The bill was presented more promptly though, because I guess they wanted me to leave so that they could prepare the table for the next diner. I would recommend this restaurant to you, because the food is indeed excellent. The success of this restaurant is also a Hong Kong story in which hard work pays off. Furthermore, this place is now world-famous, having been featured on CNNGo.com.
Under Bridge Spicy Crab, 414-424 Jaffe Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong.