Hey, it’s summer time, which means that the restaurants lining the gutter-oil ridden sidewalks of Gui Jie (also known as Ghost Street) have turned their attention to mala crayfish. If you are tired of spicy crayfish, Crayfish Party might be a good solution, located in Xiaoju Hutong just off of Gui Jie.
Opened in 2015, Crayfish Party is a mere three-minute walk to Capital Spirits, just in case you haven't taken in enough baijiu to kill whatever germs may be lurking in these crunchy creatures. The restaurant has a second floor outdoor terrace, a trendy and wood-heavy decor, and a modern Chinese-style (and somewhat creepy) mural covering the wall.
There are several ways to choose how to cook the crayfish: baked, braised, steamed, stewed in chilies (making them damn spicy), and the most interesting one: using ice. Adventurous as we are, we straight-up went for the iced crayfish (RMB 298 for 20 crayfish), and they were great.
The huge, bright red crayfish were served on a huge bowl of ice. Cracking the first one with disposable gloves provided, we could tell this was going ot be good and the meat in the shell was tight and soft, indicating that the crayfish was fresh. With just a single bite, we could tell that they had been soaked in brown rice wine, setting them apart from their average spicy crayfish brethren that you can get anywhere, with a definite and rich umami flavor. In fact, the meat looked more like sashimi, fitting given the way these were served, but with a taste like this, no added soy sauce or wasabi is necessary. Before we knew it, we had finished the whole bowl.
I'm sure that I could give up the typical spicy mala crayfish for the rest of my life, just so long as I can have this iced brown-rice-wine soaked rendition instead.
Aside from the crayfish, there are cold noodles with shrimp (RMB 35), and a barbecue menu. There are also a host of summer drinks to help you cool off, including ginger with honey sodas, or the choice of two beers (in typical Gui Jie style): 1664 and Hoegaarden.
All in all, the Crayfish Party atmosphere was pretty boppin' and the space does fill up so you might want to make a reservation before crashing the joint. Wooden and bamboo screens divide the space up and give the tables a little more privacy for when things get cray-cray with all that iced crustaceans being thrown around and gorged upon. Trust me, I'll be the main perpetrator.
40 Xiaoju Hutong, Dongcheng (5363 3811)
Photos: Crayfish Party, Tracy Wang
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