Fresh off a tasting at the Vancouver location of The Captain's Boil, it was back to the bibs and plastic gloves at The Holy Crab. For the first time ever, we see a dedicated seafood boil restaurant in Downtown Vancouver. I say "dedicated" because there are others spots that have it available on their menu, but they are not full seafood boil establishments. Unlike the many seafood boils I've experienced, The Holy Crab has an even bigger Asian influence on their menu, especially when it comes to the preparation of the seafood as well as the available sauces.
I joined other bloggers, IGers and mainstream media in a menu tasting that included an interesting take on Shrimp. Rather than boiling it in a sauce, they did a quick deep-fry instead and topped it off with a saute consisting of onions, garlic, pepper and loads of butter. The result was a more aromatic shrimp flavour since it wasn't boiled. However, the saute on top was very necessary as the shrimp itself was not seasoned. About that saute... oh man, it was delicious being sinfully buttery and nutty with a slight pepperiness as well as sweetness. Next up was the majestic King Crab Legs. They were meaty and well-prepared, but smaller compared to the ones I had at The Captain's Boil. However, with no overwhelming sauce, I could taste the natural sweetness of the crab.
When we were presented with the Clams, we immediately noticed the aggressive amount of Cajun sauce poured on top. Once again, the clams were not prepared in any sauce, hence their natural brininess really came though. I'm not completely sure if the sweet and only slightly spicy Cajun sauce was the best match. I would've much preferred the butter and onion saute from the shrimp. Looking like it was blinded by the same Cajun sauce, the whole Dungeness Crab was on point. Since it was prepared whole, the sweet juices and brininess was retained within the meat. I was happy eating it by itself without any sauce other than a quick squeeze of lime. Now this crab was fresh with meat that rebounded unlike the mushy one we had at The Captain's Boil.
The most surprising dish we had was not anything boiled. In fact, the Fish & Chips was the best thing I ate and that is including the crab! That is not to say the crab wasn't good, it was just that the fish was flaky and almost juicy with a light and crispy tempura batter. Even the fries were good being hot, crispy and nicely spiced. Not to be outdone, the Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab was pretty solid too with a firmly crispy exterior giving way to the classic soft and sweet soft shell crab. Although the pieces were on the smaller side, they weren't hard nor lacking in crab flavour and soft texture. It need a squirt of lime though as it needed something to lighten up the heaviness.
Not that we really wanted to eat any Crayfish, but we figured that we should try it anyways. Generally, crayfish is a lot of work for very little meat. This wasn't any different here and it was more or less the same as previous experiences except for the lack of a greasy sauce. Finally, the robustness of the muddy crayfish meat worked with the Cajun sauce. Overall, I thought the Holy Crab was remarkably different than any other seafood boil I've ever been to. From the preparation to the sauces, nothing was predictable. I enjoyed the butter, onion and garlic sauce more than the Cajun while the fish n' chips was definitely a surprise.
*All food and beverages were complimentary*
- The fish and chips
- The butter, garlic and onion sauce
- Dungeness Crab
- Wasn't a huge fan of the Cajun sauce - too thick and tasted more like satay
- For me, it wasn't a big deal, but by not cooking the seafood with the sauce, it was less impactful