I asked my brother whether he wanted to try a new cuisine, a new restaurant, or go to a favorite restaurant for his birthday. After perusing my extensive "restaurants to try" list, he decided to check out The Boiling Crab.
Must have been because I had mentioned these Vietnamese-owned Cajun crawfish places ever since I read Elmo of Monster Munching's post about The Boiling Crab in Garden Grove. Or maybe it's because I recently tried Rockin' Crawfish in Westminster with his college friends.
Luckily for us, The Boiling Crab recently opened in Alhambra so we didn't have to trek all the way down to Orange County.
The nautical decor was a bit too kitschy for my taste. Made me feel like I was in a seafood-themed fast food restaurant. I actually preferred the down-home Southern bar-like feel of Rockin' Crawfish for these kind of eats.
We ordered a plate of raw oysters for $13.99 a dozen. These were really fresh. But they came with Cajun sauce, I would have preferred cocktail sauce like at Rockin' Crawfish. No matter. I added a dab of sauce, a squeeze of lime, and a few dashes of Tobasco and the oysters slid down my throat.
The $1.99 Cajun fries were a pleasant surprise. A large basket, crispy, lightly dusted with Cajun spices. These were quite a hit.
They were out of Dungeness crabs that night, so we opted to get extra crawfish. We got one pound of crawfish in mild lemon pepper seasoning.
And two pounds of the whole sha-bang which includes the lemon pepper, rajun Cajun, and garlic butter.
If you order a two-pound bag, they'll toss in a few pieces of sausage and corn. Whoa! That's a lot of spices! But actually, the mild wasn't quite as spicy as Rockin' Crawfish, where my brother's friends had sweat running down their faces.
"Please Wandering Chopsticks, don't eat me," says the poor little crawfish with its claws out in supplication. Oh, why do the poor creatures always do this to me?
While I was thinking about eating the poor thing... Sister-in-law was trying to feed her crawfish Cajun fries.
We had to teach her how to rip off their heads, suck the juices, break the tails length-wise, and pull out the meat. The claws are eaten only if they're big enough to have any meat. And for hard to crack claws, an oyster shell makes a handy hammer.
Of course, my brother also had to tell the story of how we used to catch crawfish in Oregon rivers and streams when we were little. Yes, we repeat stories all the time when there's a new audience member. Here's the "after" photo.
Three pounds of crawfish, a basket of Cajun fries, and a dozen oysters for five people.
Final verdict? I think I prefer Rockin' Crawfish for the better atmosphere, later hours, calamari, and cocktail sauce for the oysters. Bibs too. They were out of bibs this night, although they did have them later when lil' sis went again.
Taste-wise, between the two, there's not that much difference. I mean, what can you really do with boiled crawfish and Cajun spices? It's really the side dishes that make a difference. Although The Boiling Crab does have wings and gumbo. So for those of you who don't want to make the drive down to Orange County, The Boiling Crab is now open in the San Gabriel Valley.
A word of warning about wait times. It's so popular that unless you show up before 6:30 p.m. on any night, it can be a 2-hour wait.
June 26, 2008 update: Got Dungeness crab and sweet potato fries on a recent visit. The Cajun fries are now $2.99. Sweet potato fries are $3.99 and didn't come with any spices.
The crab was very lackluster on this night, which was what prompted the seafood fest for lil' sis's 21st birthday bash.
More photos of other revisits included when lil' sis abandoned me and Boiling Crab Redux, with much tastier-looking photos of the crab.
Other Cajun crawfish restaurants:
The Boiling Crab - Alhambra (Main St.)
Rockin' Crawfish - Westminster (Little Saigon)
The Boiling Crab
742 W. Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA 91803
Monday to Friday 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday noon to 10 p.m.