Jump to content

Best place to eat King Crab?


pete1681
 Share

Recommended Posts

Alaskan king crab fishing occurs during the fall and winter months. The peak season of crab fishing usually is between October and January, it lasts only for several weeks. During this period the restaurants of Juneau, Seward, Anchorage, and other cities serve the freshest king crabs ever.  This means that you will be eating the same frozen king crab in an Alaskan restaurant that you would be getting at a restaurant in the lower 48 at any time of the year.  Bottom line is that any king crab that you can buy when you cruise in AK is not fresh.

 

Now salmon season depending upon the species is June to August and halibut is May to August so if you want gresh fish, those are the types that you should be eating.

 

DON

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Best King Crab, in cruise season, is always in the same place - Vancouver. It's the only place to get 'em fresh! Every other place the only difference is in what seasoning/sauce they add to the already-steamed-then-frozen crab. Whereas here, if your appetite is big enough or you bring enough other folks along, you can take part in a literal feast in any of several large Chinese restos - beginning with the choice of and display of your live crab followed by 3+ different preparations of it in various forms, all of which actually involve cooking the crab with flavourings from scratch (the classic 'split and stuffed with garlic' roasted leg is probably most popular, and the garlic flavour actually gets into the meat this way). You can add as many different courses as you want to pay for - price varies considerably based on time of year, as the longer the crabs have had to be kept alive and fed in their tanks the more expensive they are but you can probably assume that the cheapest feast would be around $400-500 (which would feed ~8 people with ~5 courses total, 3 of them crab).

 

But personally I'd rather eat Dungeness anyway, which may actually be more exotic than King to a Floridian - you can probably find King legs more easily in your home state since the frozen legs end up on steakhouse menus everywhere whereas Dungeness are more of a West Coast thing.

 

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, zltm089 said:

Any recommendations on where to eat the best crabs in Vancouver?

Except when it's actually in-season you have relatively few options - the large, well-established restos with 'crab hotels' to keep them alive. The crabs are all sourced from the same place, the standard dishes are usually much the same in all the restos that offer a feast, all of those restos sell enough of the meals that you can assume that everyone involved in the prep is competent, and the entire concept is inherently pretty spectacular - so honestly I'd say this is more about 'which location is most convenient for a crab feast?' than whether you'll be actually getting any discernible difference in quality of the crab. You certainly can see differences in the rest of the meal though - so if your group is big enough (8-10 or more) to start considering adding extra courses being picky about which resto makes more sense, but I'd still say more in terms of 'what else is on the menu?' than 'is this resto significantly better than the others?'

 

For my money, you have two sensible options - a) stick with the folks who invented the concept and have therefore been doing it longest - Sun Sui Wah. They've got an actual-Vancouver branch (the original one) as well as one out in Richmond - and while it's not as convenient for downtown hotels as Kirin or Dynasty, cab fare split among a big enough group to justify ordering a feast is a very modest add-on cost per person. Plus, that way you can also add a course of roasted Squab, which is SSWs signature dish that they do better than anyone else in town.

 

Or b) go to Dynasty, who are relative newcomers with barely a decade in the business BUT have done more to raise the bar for quality Cantonese food downtown than anyone else (until Dynasty opened, pretty much all the awards for best local <insert dish> were going to Richmond restos - Dynasty were winning more prizes than anyone else in the region for the first few years they were open until the others started to up their game). They do several preparations of AKC that nobody else does (or rather than nobody else DID, as any successful new concept does tend to spread among the other restos!) like crab & avocado salad, egg custard with dried scallops & crab, and salted duck egg yolk sauce on the deep-fried crab knuckles.

 

Of course you're not going to be disappointed with Red Star, Kirin or any of the other 'big boys' who offer the feasts year-round.

 

Unfortunately even though cruise season seems to start earlier each year, it has yet to move so early as to overlap into peak AKC time... but if you cruise in May or early June you've got a pretty good chance of finding the other, even-rarer, local seafood extravaganza - Spot Prawns. Their very limited season starts in mid-May, traditionally with boats landing the first catch at Granville Island for the annual festival - you can buy bags of live prawns or have them cooked right in front of you in a classic seafood boil, and all the locavore restos tend to offer spot prawn dishes on their menus until the catch limit is reached (which can be less than a month).

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, martincath said:

Except when it's actually in-season you have relatively few options - the large, well-established restos with 'crab hotels' to keep them alive. The crabs are all sourced from the same place, the standard dishes are usually much the same in all the restos that offer a feast, all of those restos sell enough of the meals that you can assume that everyone involved in the prep is competent, and the entire concept is inherently pretty spectacular - so honestly I'd say this is more about 'which location is most convenient for a crab feast?' than whether you'll be actually getting any discernible difference in quality of the crab. You certainly can see differences in the rest of the meal though - so if your group is big enough (8-10 or more) to start considering adding extra courses being picky about which resto makes more sense, but I'd still say more in terms of 'what else is on the menu?' than 'is this resto significantly better than the others?'

 

For my money, you have two sensible options - a) stick with the folks who invented the concept and have therefore been doing it longest - Sun Sui Wah. They've got an actual-Vancouver branch (the original one) as well as one out in Richmond - and while it's not as convenient for downtown hotels as Kirin or Dynasty, cab fare split among a big enough group to justify ordering a feast is a very modest add-on cost per person. Plus, that way you can also add a course of roasted Squab, which is SSWs signature dish that they do better than anyone else in town.

 

Or b) go to Dynasty, who are relative newcomers with barely a decade in the business BUT have done more to raise the bar for quality Cantonese food downtown than anyone else (until Dynasty opened, pretty much all the awards for best local <insert dish> were going to Richmond restos - Dynasty were winning more prizes than anyone else in the region for the first few years they were open until the others started to up their game). They do several preparations of AKC that nobody else does (or rather than nobody else DID, as any successful new concept does tend to spread among the other restos!) like crab & avocado salad, egg custard with dried scallops & crab, and salted duck egg yolk sauce on the deep-fried crab knuckles.

 

Of course you're not going to be disappointed with Red Star, Kirin or any of the other 'big boys' who offer the feasts year-round.

 

Unfortunately even though cruise season seems to start earlier each year, it has yet to move so early as to overlap into peak AKC time... but if you cruise in May or early June you've got a pretty good chance of finding the other, even-rarer, local seafood extravaganza - Spot Prawns. Their very limited season starts in mid-May, traditionally with boats landing the first catch at Granville Island for the annual festival - you can buy bags of live prawns or have them cooked right in front of you in a classic seafood boil, and all the locavore restos tend to offer spot prawn dishes on their menus until the catch limit is reached (which can be less than a month).

Thanks for this very informative post.

 

It's just three of us and we will most likely stay near the port or close to Chinatown. 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, zltm089 said:

Thanks for this very informative post.

 

It's just three of us and we will most likely stay near the port or close to Chinatown.

Depending on your definition of 'near' and 'close' then Kirin should almost certainly be viable (they have 2 downtown branches, one right in the core and another near City Hall), Dynasty might (on Broadway, closer than the second Kirin branch, <1 mile from most downtown hotels), and even SSWs original resto @ Main & 23rd (2 miles from Chinatown) may be on the table. Nowhere in Chinatown offers these feasts as the restos there are all small.

 

The issue is going to be your lack of diners - you have to order an entire crab, the smallest I've ever seen sold in the city are ~8lbs, and the price out of season is almost never less than $40 a pound so you'd be looking at a very, very expensive meal split between three. A pound of AKC per person is usually enough to fill you up due to all the other stuff that comes with the crab.

 

Otherwise unfortunately it's the same in Vancouver as everywhere else - precooked, frozen, reheated legs. Find some others on your roll call to share a meal if you want to see the difference between fresh and frozen crab.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

57 minutes ago, martincath said:

Depending on your definition of 'near' and 'close' then Kirin should almost certainly be viable (they have 2 downtown branches, one right in the core and another near City Hall), Dynasty might (on Broadway, closer than the second Kirin branch, <1 mile from most downtown hotels), and even SSWs original resto @ Main & 23rd (2 miles from Chinatown) may be on the table. Nowhere in Chinatown offers these feasts as the restos there are all small.

 

The issue is going to be your lack of diners - you have to order an entire crab, the smallest I've ever seen sold in the city are ~8lbs, and the price out of season is almost never less than $40 a pound so you'd be looking at a very, very expensive meal split between three. A pound of AKC per person is usually enough to fill you up due to all the other stuff that comes with the crab.

 

Otherwise unfortunately it's the same in Vancouver as everywhere else - precooked, frozen, reheated legs. Find some others on your roll call to share a meal if you want to see the difference between fresh and frozen crab.

 

 

Forgive my ignorance but would one Alaskan crab not be enough for 3 people? I live in London and mostly used to having small overpriced crabs where one crab is just about "right" for two people.....(provided you have it as a starter...). 

 

My first time eating Alaskan crab was this year actually and it was in Fort Lauderdale (just before my cruise). Had the legs and it was amazing value for the price. Well reviewed restaurant too on Tripadvisor. Will post some pics later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, martincath said:

Depending on your definition of 'near' and 'close' then Kirin should almost certainly be viable (they have 2 downtown branches, one right in the core and another near City Hall), Dynasty might (on Broadway, closer than the second Kirin branch, <1 mile from most downtown hotels), and even SSWs original resto @ Main & 23rd (2 miles from Chinatown) may be on the table. Nowhere in Chinatown offers these feasts as the restos there are all small.

 

The issue is going to be your lack of diners - you have to order an entire crab, the smallest I've ever seen sold in the city are ~8lbs, and the price out of season is almost never less than $40 a pound so you'd be looking at a very, very expensive meal split between three. A pound of AKC per person is usually enough to fill you up due to all the other stuff that comes with the crab.

 

Otherwise unfortunately it's the same in Vancouver as everywhere else - precooked, frozen, reheated legs. Find some others on your roll call to share a meal if you want to see the difference between fresh and frozen crab.

 

 

I just did a quick search for Kirin and Dynasty.....Just to confirm, are these Chinese restaurants?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, zltm089 said:

I just did a quick search for Kirin and Dynasty.....Just to confirm, are these Chinese restaurants?

Yes - sorry, I should have linked to their websites when I mentioned them. Kirin is technically 'Northern' (Beijing area), though they have such an extensive menu that most of the Cantonese staples are on there too while Dynasty is Cantonese, with some modern angles but very much grounded in tradition (UK Chinese food = mostly Cantonese derived, with the long-standing Hong Kong connection).

17 minutes ago, zltm089 said:

Forgive my ignorance but would one Alaskan crab not be enough for 3 people? I live in London and mostly used to having small overpriced crabs where one crab is just about "right" for two people.....(provided you have it as a starter...).

Quite the opposite! 1 AKC usually feeds around TEN people in a feast format! At the end of the day, a resto will be happy to cook up a whole crab for even one person if you pay for it - but the price will still be basically the same even if you negotiate for a reduction due to them needing less rice, noodles, veg, soup etc. The crab's the pricey part of the meal!

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another idea, which certainly works in Seattle and ought to work in Vancouver, is to buy a Dungeness crab or two from a fishmonger (Pike Place in Seattle, maybe Granville market in Vancouver?) and have the crab cleaned, which most will do for no charge (you're paying by the pound for the whole fish, including guts, so there's no loss of revenue to the merchant.)  

 

Take it back to your hotel and ask the room service people (assuming your hotel has this) for a big salad, fresh bread, some melted butter, and some nutcrackers as well as other dinner setups.  Buy a bottle of wine, and have a picnic in your room, cracking and gobbling the crab and making a general mess.  This is the quintessential Pacific Northwest/West Coast Canadian "company's coming" dinner.  It will be way cheaper, and likely way better, than a restaurant meal costing five times as much.  Just be sure you adios the shells, as they can get pretty smelly.    

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you are intrigued by what @Gardyloo suggested then yes, Granville Island market traders will sell you live Dungeness and cook them for you on request... and fresh bread, salads etc. are also available from the many and varied stalls and stores in the public market building. But if you plan to eat outside at the picnic tables and watch the buskers (no need to worry about the mess from such a fun meal when eating outside!), do also watch out for the cheeky seagulls who will happily snatch your food if you leave it unattended😉

 

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
On 12/12/2019 at 11:53 PM, martincath said:

If you are intrigued by what @Gardyloo suggested then yes, Granville Island market traders will sell you live Dungeness and cook them for you on request... and fresh bread, salads etc. are also available from the many and varied stalls and stores in the public market building. But if you plan to eat outside at the picnic tables and watch the buskers (no need to worry about the mess from such a fun meal when eating outside!), do also watch out for the cheeky seagulls who will happily snatch your food if you leave it unattended😉

 

Too much hassle. 😂

 

I'd rather sit down in a restaurant.

 

Thank you for the suggestions though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If anyone wants Alaska King Crab they need to be selective. 75% of the king crab in the US is imported from Russia. If it doesn't say "Alaska King Crab" it's probably not from Alaska. We don't eat king crab often and I'm not sure I could tell the difference.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Thank You for 25 Years - Click for Fun Stuff!
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...