The Boiling Crab (Mira Mesa)

>> Thursday, July 26, 2012

Date of Dining: 7/21/2012
Price: $8-9 per lb of protein (shrimp, clams, mussels, sausage), market price/lb (crab, lobster, crawfish)
Location: 9015 Mira Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92126

The Quick Bit

+ everything you love about other Boiling Crab locations 
+ great spicy marinade for seafood
+ lots of fun to get messy with your friends
Δ everything you dislike about other Boiling Crab locations

The Boiling Crab was started by Dada Ngo and Sinh Nguyen in 2003; the first location was in Garden Grove, CA. While it was not the first Vietnamese inspired Cajun (or is it Cajun inspired Vietnamese) restaurant in the US, it really popularized the Cajun flavored seafood boil concept in Southern California.
In many East Asian cultures, the social setting of eating together with a big group of friends and family is very popular. Usually a large pot is involved in the cooking and then friends and family sit together around a large table to socialize and a very casual setting.
After many Vietnamese fled Southeast Asia following the Vietnam war, they found refuge in all parts of the United States. Within the US, certain pockets seemed to attract many Vietnamese immigrants; Garden Grove, CA was one while Louisiana was another. As Cajun food is heavily inspired by French cuisine much the same way Vietnamese cuisine was, and with the high availability of seafood, many Vietnamese found similarities in Cajun cuisine. 
From these bases, Ngo and Nguyen opened The Boiling Crab in Garden Grove, introducing one popular cuisine of Vietnamese migrants to another group of migrants. The restaurant was an incredible success and two more Boiling Crab locations were opened in Garden Grove. Yet even with the increased restaurants, diners often had to wait over an hour for a table.
Here are few things to know about The Boiling Crab for the uninitiated
  • you order by the pound, so come hungry or with a large group
  • you eat with your hands and things get really messy, you are given a bib to wear when dining
  • a lot of garlic is involved in the sauce
  • there are no reservations, and waits are usually at least one hour
  • they have to go orders available
  • I don't know that I'd call it authentic Cajun cuisine, but perhaps Viet-Cajun
As a big fan of The Boiling Crab in Garden Grove, I spotted construction of the San Diego location about two months prior. I watched carefully for when it opened determined to visit. While I missed the grand opening, I did make it over soon after.
dozen oysters
These were pretty standard oysters, but at $15 for a dozen, they were pretty cheap. They were nicely shucked and fresh tasting. One slight complaint is that they didn't include any sauce.
sweet potato fries
These were the standard frozen sweet potato fries, but they add a nice change of pace from the seafood, so they were a nice addition.
fried catfish basket
This was the first time for me to get the fried catfish basket, and I was extremely impressed. The catfish was fried perfectly and came out really hot. The batter had a nice kick to the flavor and really worked well with the flavor of the catfish. I also felt that portion of this was extremely generous given the price. The cajun seasoning on the fries was a really wonderful surprise as well.
seafood bake bag
When ordering, one selects the protein(s), sauce(s) and spice level. As stated before, the proteins are sold by the pound. The sauces are some combination of "ragin cajun," lemon, and garlic. If you want all the sauces, it's called "the whole SHA-bang." There's really no other way to order it than the whole sha-bang, so that is how I would recommend the order. Finally as far as spice level, cajun food is known for its spice, so I wouldn't recommend anything less than medium.
Additionally, I highly recommend ordering the corn on the cob. The corn comes out ridiculously sweet when contrasted to the other flavors and is a great side/change of pace from the other items. The corn is usually thrown in with the entire seafood bake.
seafood bake bag - shrimp, clams, mussels, sausage, corn
We stayed away from the market price items and went for all the standard items. The best item in the entire bake was the clams. Each clam was large within the shell and the flavoring and freshness of the clams was really spot on. Additionally, we didn't have a single clam that didn't open in the process of the bake. The corn was also excellent (as previously mentioned). While I consider the shrimp and Andouille sausage to be staples, they neither stood out any more or any less than the other components. While we have a lot of local Carlsbad mussels, these didn't seem to be the same species. Thus, they seem a bit inferior when compared to some of the other local seafood product.


Overall, I'm extremely excited by The Boiling Crab opening in San Diego. The fact that it is a franchise makes it lose some of its luster, but I really enjoyed it much more than its "copycat cousin" in San Diego. Our group enjoyed the seafood bake so much that after "ordering a lot" in the first bake, we even ordered an extra serving of some items. 
For the relatively cheaply priced seafood with its fun social atmosphere, The Boiling Crab is awarded the megabit award!


Unknown July 27, 2012 at 7:51 AM  

Hi James, Me and my friend are interested of buying into The Boiling Crab franchise. How can we buy in the franchise? Any info is greatly appreciated...

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gastro bits is a blog that juxtaposes the geeky with the foodie; it is an attempt to be educational about food, yet entertaining at the same time.
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