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Monday, August 27, 2012

New restaurant: Crab City

Crab City is the last stop on our Boiling-Crab-inspired restaurants tour, one of three (Kickin' Kajun, Raging Crab) that popped up in Honolulu in just one month. It follows the same formula: kitschy sea shack theme, seafood arriving in bags, tossed in a spicy, buttery, Cajun-style seasoning, with only a crab claw cracker as a utensil.

The verdict? The same as the others:
- They are fun.
- The seafood isn't great.

I love the casualness of these kitschy, faux sea shack joints. I love digging my hands into a pile of shellfish and getting messy.

But it's really hard to overlook the poor seafood quality. A friend says it's because it's frozen. Frozen seafood isn't inherently bad, though: even quality sashimi is sometimes previously frozen. But the shellfish (lobster, crawfish, mussels) appear to be cooked, then frozen, giving it a watery, mushy quality. And so what saves the seafood, especially at Crab City, is the sauce, loaded with chopped garlic and butter, more similar to an Asian-style chili and garlic sauce for crab than a Cajun seasoning. The best complement to this stuff is the shrimp and potatoes, but if you gave me a loaf of crusty bread, I'd be in carby, buttery, garlicky heaven. Crab City also gives a little side dish of salt and pepper and lime wedges, a remarkably simple and perfect dipping sauce for seafood.

So of the three—Crab City, Kickin' Kajun, Raging Crab—which would I return to? Probably Kickin' Kajun. Maybe because it was the first, before I acquired a slight shellfish fatigue, but I remember the seafood quality here being the best. The seasoning wasn't as flavorful as the other two, but I'd probably shell out for it again.

$48 for the lobster, crayfish, mussel, shrimp and clam combo.
Crab City, 3441 Waialae Ave., 780-3115

Posted on Monday, August 27, 2012 in Permalink

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About This Column

From five-star restaurants to hidden holes-in-the-wall, Biting Commentary will let you know what’s hot and what’s not. Find out the latest restaurant news—who’s opening, who’s closing, which chef is moving on, where the great special dinners are. Discover the best menu items, fabulous wines, stunning cocktails, hand-crafted beers. Be the first to hear about upcoming food events and festivals.

Food editor Martha Cheng graduated from Wellesley College with degrees in Computer Science and English. She's a former line cook, food truck owner, Peace Corps volunteer and Google techie. Follow her on Twitter @marthacheng.


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