Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Boiling Crab - Garden Grove



A recent Chowhound find reported by jaydee and followed up by Hershey Bomar was Boiling Crab, a Cajun-styled, Vietnamese-owned, seafood boil restaurant located on the fringes of Garden Grove's Little Saigon.

Although the restaurant is one of many Cajun crawfish joints to recently pop-up in the area, on the Saturday night of my visit, it was filled to capacity and the wait list was two pages long.

Two doors down, a coin-op laundromat did its own steady business. And with Boiling Crab's wait time lasting well over an hour, I estimate that a load of laundry was washed, dried, pressed and folded by the time our table was ready.

Since the restaurant took no reservations and its rectangular room was no larger than a stripmall pho joint, most of the crowd milled around outside, on the sidewalk. Those waiting and standing were predominantly college-aged Asians, who smoked like fiends and swore like sailors.

The kitschy decor of the place, which feels like a hastily put together nautical theme night at the high school dance (a fake anchor here, a fishing net and a life preserver there), seemed contradictory to the crowd.



The point of the evening was not to bask in the theme park ambience, but to feast on crawfish, shrimp and crab. Small mountains of spent shells, heads, crawlers, and bald corn cobs littered the tables, along with sweaty bottles of Coronas and sytrofoam cups of soda-pop.

Upon being seated, butcher paper was laid out on our tabletop for soaking up stray juice. Asking how we should order, our young waitress explained that the rule of thumb is a pound of crawfish per person at a market price of $7.99/lb. The first two pounds includes one small corn on the cob and sliced Cajun sausage.

We ordered three pounds of the mudbugs seasoned with "The Whole Sha-Bang", a mixture of hot Cajun rub, roughly diced garlic, lemon juice, and melted butter. We also asked for some extra corn ($0.50 each) and sausage ($2.99).



Peering through the clear plastic bag, the crawdads looked like aliens, the kind which leap out during the climax of a movie to chew on people's faces. But it was us who decimated them. We twisted the heads off the buggers, wrapped our puckered lips around them, and sucked out the fatty/spicy juice from the skull, laughing like maniacal madmen.

To get at the pasty tomalley beneath the thorax, we pried the feelers apart from the body, ripping it off with a sickening crunch. Their pea green innards had a mossy taste, faintly sweet and swampy.

The tail we saved for last. This was the money meat. We pinched the aft section of the dorsal fin to force the succulent morsel out, and detached it daintily with two fingers. The thimble-sized hunk of flesh was tiny like a shrimp, but tasted like its bigger cousin, the lobster.

However, our assertion of dominance on the food chain was short-lived, as the mudbugs exacted its own revenge against us. Its weapon of choice was the pepper red brew it wore like a protective force field, which left our lips throbbing. Thankfully, the "mild" spice level we chose was only pleasantly numbing at this stage of heat, but at higher dosages it would be downright radioactive and lethal.



In the end, we had built our own little hills of litter piled high with the hollowed out shells of crustacean carcasses, soiled WetNaps, and a bill which was comparatively smaller than the carnage we left behind.

But in a last ditch effort of insolence, notice what those little mudbugs managed to get the nice servers to print on the receipt.



"Yo mama," indeed! You may have won this round, my wily adversaries, but I'll be back later with more friends and lemon wedges.

Boiling Crab
(714) 265-2722
14241 Euclid St # C116
Garden Grove, CA 92843

52 Comments:

At 8:09 PM, Blogger onetomato said...

no offense...but that is the most disgusting sounding meal i've ever heard of....*shudders*

 
At 10:13 PM, Blogger rick james said...

damn elmo looks like something out of Predator or Aliens... and you ate it... nice

 
At 12:41 AM, Blogger Passionate Eater said...

With the messy look of those "crabs in a bag," it's great to know that you could just pop in next door and wash your dirtied shirt (dirtied with cracking open the messy shell fish)!

I feel mildly disappointed that they don't have any other sides other than "one" corn on the cob and "one" Cajun sausage. They should have potatoes at least, or maybe some cornbread to go with the crawfish. But I guess the caked-on seasoning mess constitutes a side dish in and of itself.

 
At 7:57 AM, Anonymous joy said...

Crawdads are on the list of things I haven't gotten around to eating because (1) I didn't eat seafood, not willingly at least, for the first 25 years or so of my life and it's taking a while to make up for lost time, and (2) I didn't know how to extract the food content from the protective covering. But no longer! In fact, inspired by your vicious attack on these creatures, I found the following web site that shows pictures of the approach (albeit in tasteful, comic book form):

http://www.cajuncrawfish.com/page.cfm?sct=howtos&pg=eating

Watch out you spicy crawdaddies, here I come...

 
At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Kirk said...

Wow some bugs & brews don't sound too bad...especially if Yo' Mama made them! I don't do the heads though....

 
At 8:49 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

onetomato,

It's certainly not a meal for everyone. It's a good thing they gave me a bib...juice and guts everywhere! Seasoning stuck underneath my nails. Sweat beading up my brow.

DCCF,

Aliens is exactly the movie I was thinking of...you really get close and personal with these things, more so than lobster or shrimp.

PE,

I know! I was sooo bummed there were no potatoes! And I thought it was kinda weird that they just don't include a corn and sausage for every pound of crawfish bought, instead of just the first. But I guess that's how they keep the price low and how they can earn some incremental revenue on offering extra corn and sausage. By comparison, one place I used to go to a lot in Long Beach, called Crab Pot, included everything -- shrimp, clams, crab legs, sausage, corn and potatoes...but they charged a flat $25-$30 per person!!!

Joy,

HAHA! That comic is hilarious! I think I remember a similar cartoon appears on Boiling Crab's wall as a poster. It's definitely more visceral and messier in practice. My taste and tactile memory of that experience is still vivid even though my visit was more than 2 weeks ago.

Kirk,

They have blue crabs and shrimp sold by the pound too...I am definitely going to try them next. I think the most cost effective in terms of meat to dollars would be the shrimp. The crawdads tail meat accounts for only 20% of the total weight.

 
At 4:07 PM, Blogger ChristianZ said...

Perhaps Yo Mama is the Vietnamese answer to YoYo Ma.

 
At 8:24 PM, Blogger MEalCentric said...

Thanks for the review Elmo, I was wondering about this place. I gotta say though, the plastic bag makes it sorta unappetizing. When I was in New Orleans, they would give you the same meal but on a plate, rather than in a bag so you dont feel like your opening a bag of dead bugs. But still, for that price, I would be willing to overlook that minor problem and chow down. Looking forward to trying this out

 
At 12:04 AM, Blogger Seth Chadwick said...

elmo,

I think I am going to nominate this post for some food blogging award next year. LOL!

You are a great master of the tale and you survived the onslaught of the aquatic aliens.

Sounds like the perfect place for J. to tell me all about. :o)

And, it has to be someone's mama, no?

 
At 12:52 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Christian,

If Yo Yo Ma's mother was named "Yo", she'd have to introduce herself as "Yo Yo Ma's Mama, Yo".

Mealcentric,

Yeah, presentation is definitely not their strong suit. The soft drinks come in cheap fast-food sytrofoam cups. I'm also betting the jambalaya is served on Dixie plates.

Seth,

Thanks Seth! But I think your Mastro's post is going to edge me out. I'm still savoring every word of your post as I type this.

 
At 1:31 PM, Blogger eatdrinknbmerry said...

Elmo, i've never tried crawfish but I definitely want to now. Contrary to what others are saying about the plastic bag presentation - I like it!

 
At 5:26 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

EDBM,

One thing that plastic is good for, if you don't finish, you have an instant doggie bag...

But seeing as how crawfish is mostly shell and head, I doubt anyone will have leftovers.

 
At 8:07 PM, Blogger rick james said...

if it bleeds... you can kill it...

Governer Schwarzenneger

 
At 8:43 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Foreigners cannot enjoy our food, I suppose, any more than we can enjoy theirs. It is not strange; for tastes are made, not born. I might glorify my bill of fare until I was tired; but afer all, the Scotchman would shake his head, and say, "Where's your haggis?" and the Fijan would sigh and say, "Where's your missionary?"

- Mark Twain

 
At 11:14 AM, Blogger Daily Gluttony said...

"Cajun-style", "Vietnamese-owned"...just the thought of that is so intruiging that it makes me wanna check it out!

 
At 7:02 PM, Anonymous hbgrrl said...

Whatta bunch of babies!!
Plastic bag? Feh!
heads on your meal??
meh!
juice and guts everyhwhere?

You're my kinda guy!!
Elmo...I'm seriously in love.

 
At 12:02 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Pam,

That potential of Cajun and Vietnamese fusion was pretty tempting for me too. Although I don't know if there's much Vietnamese flavor in the food, the prices are definitely indicative of a typical Vietnamese dive.

hbgrrl,

LOL! Amen! If were possible for the crawfish to be eaten whole, like I do shrimp, I'd a done it!

 
At 11:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in love... affected by the tastegasms...=)

 
At 8:51 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Anon,

Tastegasms?! I think you just coined a brilliant new word!

 
At 4:58 PM, Blogger Jeni said...

Oh man. When I went N'awlins last summer to visit my one big Vietnamese uncle, the one thing I wasn't able to eat were crawfish. Crawfish, unfortunately were out of season. Cajun and Vietnamese go together just like my big boy Uncle Loi. ;) I'm gonna try and check this place out.

I think "Yo mama" is the coolest server's name. But if I had a server name, it'd be "Yo mama's mama!" Oh snap!

 
At 3:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ahhh, disgusting the meal may sound and as alien as they may look the messy mudbugs were DEEEE-licious! i'm from New Orleans myself and this stuff is even better than MY mama's! The plastic bags were not as "unappetizing" as Mealcentric thinks..especially once you see these beautiful mudbugs marinating in the spicey juices.. *licking my lips*..besides i think a place like this doesn't need good presentation.. the cool jams and good eats for that price was well worth the drive from LA. I'm just left wondering if they have "Yo'Mama" ...you think there's a "Yo'Daddy"?!

-Searching for "Yo'Daddy"

 
At 5:14 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

jeni and anon,

Yo mama! Yo daddy! Yo kids! Everyone should like these bugs!

 
At 3:35 PM, Blogger Eddie Lin said...

elmo,

just catching up on your posts. i love this one. the last time i had a crawdad boil was in houston, tx. i'm really happy there is one just south of LA, los angeles, that is.

 
At 7:41 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Eddie,

As far as I know, the family that owns it used to hail from Houston. So this is the real deal!

 
At 1:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops, that's

http://www.ocregister.com/ocr/2004/
12/31/sections/entertainment/
et_dining_nightlife/article_361331.php

 
At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have been to this restaurant and is really kick back. you can get down and dirty and no one will be looking at you weird. what is so nasty bout putting seafood in a plastic back? i personally think is way cleaner than plates. it is a fun enviroment because everyone is laughing and having a good time getting their hands dirty. $2 BEERS? that is way cheaper than most places. the price cant get any cheaper for seafood and they arent cheap with their portions like most restaurants. they may not serve so much sides but hey you know their food is off the hook when the waiting list is up to an hour or more! YOU WANT POTATOES THAN GO TO RED LOBSTER OR OTHER SEAFOOD RESTAURANTS AND PAY 20 BUCKS MORE. after all they are known for their crawfish not pototoes or anything else!

 
At 6:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the only comment for this place is you gotta go try it yourself. If you can't handle the spices then may be it's best to leave for those who loves it. Trust me i can admit this addiction.

 
At 9:48 PM, Blogger jx said...

My woman and I are hooked on this place. We get 2 pounds of the whole sha-bang crawfish, 1 pound whole sha-bang shrimp, and she just has to have her lemon pepper shrimp. That's 4 lbs between the 2 of us only!

Oh yeah, we usually stop by Cajun Corner as well to get some clams since this place doesn't serve clams. What can I say, what my baby wants, we go..:) You do get sausage and corn for 1 pound at CC. Gotta try the Long Beach spot though.

 
At 6:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was about back in september when I first read this blog. I have been completely addicted ever since. I go almost every week and I live 50 miles away from the place.

If you have never gone there, I would advise ordering your seafood "whole she-bang" and Medium heat. my personal order is 2lb. crawfish and 1 dungeoness crab.

Garden Grove location now offers, Shimp etouffee, Fried Catfish, Cajun Hotwings, Cajon fries.

They also are working on getting lobster tanks and will be offering them around $13/lobster (1lb lobsters)

The oysters are a great value around ($1/oyster) served cold over ice with lemon/salt pepper and g-sauce which tastes like worstershire and ketchup.

Beers, you can't beat the price at $2 a bottle.

Blue crab, I wouldn't personally recommend as they yield little meat. (they are VERY high in vitamin b12)

Crawfish are awesome and your server lets you know if they are previously frozen or not.. Don't be scared off by frozen ones because while they are not as good as fresh, they certainly don't dissapoint.

Dungeoness crab is my absolute favorite.. they are typically around 2lb each and will cost you around $16 per crab. Absolutely delicious and served as they should be, completely in tact! A plus for those who love tomale(innards)

Boiling crab is a place you will either probably not like or become completely obsessed with.

 
At 3:23 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

this place is FABULOUS! the way the food's eaten might sound disgusting and dirty, but everything's made very cleanly and tastes delicious (if you can handle the spice). it's finger food, not the end of the world...and you can always wash your hands afterwards. if you're looking for good food and a comfortably casual atmosphere then this is the place to be.

and if you haven't tried it, don't insult it.

 
At 7:41 AM, Anonymous Delta Boy said...

Great Review - just visited The Boiling Crab #2 last night (3/30/07). My lips are still tingling from all the red pepper and garlic. It was great. The shrimps were huge!

 
At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

any information on how about opening a crawfish restaurant anyone?

 
At 8:31 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Thanks everyone for the great comments. I'm a regular at this place, and have made regulars out of the people I tell about it. I know there are a lot of crawfish restaurants popping up all over the place, and I'm not quite sure who started it all, but this one a personal fave.

As for starting your own crawfish restaurant, well, all you need is just a good place, a good recipe, and a lot of cold beer!

 
At 12:14 PM, Anonymous sheila said...

We went to the one on Brookhurst for the first time and we loved it! I was very impressed, little bit of a wait but well worth it. Great service, atmosphere, and of the course the best food and reasonable pricing.

We did not try the one on Euclid, reason rude service with a girl that answered the phone.

Can't wait to go back to the one on Brookhurst.

 
At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to passionate eater...they do have other sides...cajun fries and they do have potatoes...along with a few other things.

 
At 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only thing best about this place is a lot of girls come here other than that service is really bad. They would charge you like an american service but service like crab. Party of 6 or more will get charge 15% of gratitude in the bill but will make you wait untill you have no appetite to eat or enjoy the food. Check them out and you will see. Their service is really bad. Hope they would change their service attitude to their customers.

 
At 7:07 AM, Anonymous steven said...

I'm sorry, but I live in Westminster, the heart of Little Saigon, and there is NOT a laundry mat next door.

I was there last night for dinner with a group of 9 and the bill came out to be over $200. We ordered two orders of oysters and four bags of craw dads and a round of beer. It's just an OK place - don't know if I would go back though.

 
At 7:31 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Steven,

There are two Boiling Crabs in the Little Saigon area. You went to the one in Westminster. This one is in Garden Grove. There's a laundromat next door.

 
At 6:56 PM, Anonymous steven said...

My apologies. You're right. I didn't even notice that the title of your post is Boiling Crab - Garden Grove. haha. Love the place though! I absolutely love their fresh oysters. The sauce they use is great and the oysters are so fresh.

 
At 7:02 PM, Anonymous steven said...

Actually, let me take that back. They have two Garden Grove locations. the one on Brookhurst is actually considered Garden Grove as well. That's the one I was talking about.

 
At 2:26 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Steven,

You're right! The other one *is* in Garden Grove as well! But yeah, this one's on Euclid, two doors down from a laundromat.

 
At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haven't tried the euclid location, but had gone to the Broookhurst one, nurmerous times. Serivce is good most of the time and the crawfish is the closest it'll ever come to being in New Orleans.

 
At 10:31 AM, Blogger raissa said...

we went to the one in Brookhurst yesterday and boy was it good. The service was good I guess it helped that our server was the same server my cousins had when they went to the one in Euclid. We brought rice since it seems it was fine to do so. Next time we go we are bringing vinegar for those seafood LOL. The oysters were so fresh and good, the crawfish and the shrimps. really good!

 
At 9:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have anyone tried ROCKIN CRAWFISH? It's located right on Bolsa, across from Asian Garden Mall. In my opinion, it's way better than Boiling crab. Boiling Crab's a lil salty for me and the crayfish is so tiny. Another thing, Rocking Crawfish have a deal every Tuesday. After you're done eating, they flip a coin, if it lands on tail, you get 50% off your bill!!! I've been going there every Tuesday for the past 5 months. :)

P.s. hella hot girls working there too. =D (this coming from a girl)

 
At 7:18 PM, OpenID vmsilly1 said...

Does anybody have a link or know a recipe simliar to BOILING CRAB? i want to make their whole sha-bang recipe and was wondering if anybody can point me in the right directions, any info would be so great, would like to surprise my parents with this for their bday since they love the place but hate the wait thanks

 
At 6:11 PM, Anonymous Jeff de Leon said...

i went here bout a month ago and true to your words man .. it's really an hour or so wait time but it's totally worth it ... hands down to their shrimp in shabang sauce ... the whole experience is a mix of andrew zimmern and anthony bourdain's show .. weird but good!

 
At 1:17 AM, Blogger Cereal said...

So I finally decided to make a comment on the site.

Being from Louisiana, I figured this would be a good time for me to chime in.
A few things came to mind as I read this post:
1. A pound a person?!? When ordered at a restaurant here, most people order 2 - 3lbs. If you're throwing a crawfish boil at your house, plan for roughly 5lbs per person.
2. I'm very surprised they didn't offer potatoes. However, the garlic boiled in the same water is awesome.
Believe it or not, a mirepoix can offer a lot of flavor to it, with celery making a surprise showing. Boiled onion is awesome too. Carrots, well... meh.
I've seen numerous things done, from halved lemons to hotdogs.
3. 7.99?!? Are you kidding? I've gotten spoiled I suppose because even with "steep" prices, we're looking at around 3.79 a pound right now. And this is with them in short supply as it's still early in the season.
4. Served in a plastic bag is typical. When purchased here, they are put into a plastic grocery store bag, then into a brown paper bag. For the big orders I bring my own buckets.
5. Ironic as it may be, my girlfriend's favorite place to get crawfish from is a vietnamese owned shop. I feel that their seasoning is jussssst about embarassing compared to a real pot of crawfish but I don't give her too much hassle over it.

Elmo, Houston is NOT the real deal, sorry.

I feel bad about y'alls seafood prices if this is conisdered a deal or $1 oysters is exciting.
However, it looks like they're seasoned well and I'm glad y'all are getting to enjoy a little "Lousyana" love.

 
At 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You people are not very bright just because there is no mention of other sides does not mean there are no other sides. In fact they not only have crawfish they have boiled and fried crab, fresh and fried oyster, as well as crab. They also have Cajun and Sweet Potato Fries, rice, and they do have potatoes which i am pretty sure is mentioned in the review so read closer Passionate Eater Moron, the "caked on" seasoning is THE REASON people eat at boiling crab.

 
At 11:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Overrated place that has grown too much in popularity without the establishment being able to catch up with service and tables. Hostess and guards act like Vegas club bouncers. They act like you need them more than they need you. For cheap-priced seafood, they sure act like their product....cheap.

 
At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Among all of the weak comments about how messy and disgusting it sounds, it's really one of the best seafood pleasures! Everyone is entitled to they're opinion, but this stuff is awesome! People go here just for this....seafood. And anyone I know who loves seafood, just wants seafood and nothing else. Not only is it expensive to have at a restaurant, people would kill to have that recipe. And I have finally figured it out! It's worth the mess ;)

 
At 8:01 PM, Blogger marilin said...

I went there & waited FOREVER for a table....i thought the "serve your food in a bag" was ghetto and cheap but when i tried the food sumerged in the whole sha-bang sauce i didnt care anymore. Delicious. I love seafood, spicy and lemon accompanied by a beer. For the skepticals, take a chance...you never know unless you try. If you don't like you know for sure & you dont have to return. I do recommend.

 
At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Boiling Crab is the best seafood I've eaten in a long time. Service was excellent and prices are extremely reasonable. I think the negative comments come from competitors. Sorry, I'm not fooled. If you want quality food, fun filled ambience, excellent pricing, go there.

 

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