A couple of weeks ago I went to The Boiling Crab in Little Saigon for a crawfish fix. I’m not that into crawfish, but I thought why not? It seems to be a popular joint down there. And I love crustaceans.
The restaurant is a typical crawfish-ish joint, if that makes any sense. Hay and sawdust on the floor, loud rock music, big screen TV’s playing football, predictable “Gone Fishing” type wooden painted signs on the walls, big barrels posing as bar tables, customers wearing plastic bibs, petite waitresses wearing tight logo T-shirts. You get the picture? The only weird thing was that this was in a small stripmall in Little Saigon tucked between a Vietnamese DVD store and a banh cuon joint; oh, and all the customers were Asian.
Well, I got my bib on, toasted with a bottle of Corona, and ordered the house specialty. Crawfish here is ordered by the pound, and you can choose between several seasonings (garlic butter, ragin’ cajun, lemon pepper, or the whole sha-bang, which is a combo of the 3 flavors). You can also order shrimp, catfish, crab legs, and hot wings by the pound with these seasonings. You also order sides (we ordered corn and smoked sausage) which they put all together inside a plastic bag and steam. This place is not fancy and not the kind of place you go for a first date. Unless you want to see how well your date can suck. On a crawfish head, that is. Actually, may make for an interesting first date. Ahhh…takes me back to college when some guy took me out on a first date to a rib joint. I was more interested in gnawing and tearing every last bit of meat and connective tissue off each luscious piece of baby back rib on my plate than in my date. There was no second date.
The oysters were pretty good. My tastebuds have been spoiled on Hama Hama’s and Malpeques, so these weren’t mind blowing for me. We quickly dove into the whole sha-bang seasoned crawfish. You hold the abdomen (what people generally refer to as the tail of the shrimp or crawfish, is actually the abdomen), then gently and carefully twist the head off. Then the most crucial part of the process- you suck on the head to get all the good parts out- the ‘tamale’, the guts, the liver, the innards, the organs. Yes, this is truly the best part of all crustaceans, don’t you think? Or is it just me? I could care less about the meat. And you suck and you suck until you have extracted every little last tasty particle of innards, and the head exoskeleton is collapsing inward. Then you peel the abdomen, eat the white meat, chase it with some beer, and repeat the process.
The crawfish were delightful, and it was actually really fun to get my hands dirty. There’s something carnal and sexy about eating with your hands and slurping away. And feeding each other with crawfish juice dripping down your fingers and mouth. Mmmmmmm……check please!
The whole process was fun, and the crawfish were good, but honestly, after my 10th one, I started having heartburn. Too much heavy seasoning. I was starting to feel so ill that I began losing suction. But we still managed to finish everything, and it called for a group hug:
So many good crawfish, but the finalists for Best in Show are….
This is a good place to go with a bunch of friends, so you can sample a little bit of everything without getting too much heartburn. A couple of doors down they have a Boiling Crab take out restaurant for those who want to eat at home. I think I’m good with crawfish for a while. It was good, but for crustaceans I prefer Japanese sweet shrimp sashimi or soft shell crab tempura.
Random trivia: Did you know that the longest word with the 5 vowels in reverse alphabetical order is PUNCTOSCHMIDTELLA, which is a crustacean?