Getting Chili With It: Chili Crab at Chi Lin

Hong Kong-style King Crab that’s both trippy and traditional.

Chillin’ at Chi Lin, the new, upscale Hong Kong-style restaurant on the Sunset Strip, is easy to do with its clubby yet cozy dark interior. Overhead, 300 lanterns cast a dim glow over diners, while the walls are adorned with psychedelic butterfly bouquets. Though the design is a bit trippy, the food tends to stick to its Hong Kong roots.

Hong Kong-style chili crab is one of my favorite ways to crush a crab. At Chi Lin, it’s called Aberdeen Alaskan King Crab and is based on a Hong Kong seafood style called “typhoon shelter. This comes from a time when fisherman would sell cooked shellfish off of their boats while protected by breakwaters during violent, inclement weather. Fried crab and shrimp cooked with a mini mountain of garlic bits and chili is a hallmark of “typhoon shelter” food.

Chi Lin’s crab plate is made up of large, fleshy, King Crab claws fried with seasoned oils and artfully smothered with crispy, smoky, minced garlic, and chiles. The seasonings are dry, which makes this crab less messy than the more traditional saucy version.

Eating these luscious legs requires a specific technique: poke the small hole at one end of the shell with your chopstick. This forces the meat out from the wider end, making it easy to pick up and pop into your mouth.

Master that, and not only will you be chillin’ at Chi Lin, but you’ll be rollin’ on your way out too. Chi Lin, 9201 W. Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, (310) 278-2068