One of my favourite restaurants back in Seattle is a homey, family-friendly seafood joint where a bucketful of fresh shellfish from clams to crab to shrimp and mussels is poured out on the table, diners are given a bib and a mallet, and you spend the next few hours whacking away at the shells and making a fun ol’ mess as you pick out the tasty meat. As you can imagine, it’s a great time for kids (and adults admittedly!) and while there’s nothing in Hong Kong quite like it at the moment, Holy Crab is the next best thing.
This new family-friendly establishment boasts itself as Hong Kong’s first Cajun-American Seafood restaurant, and with the pick-your-own-seafood tanks, friendly nautical decor and giant lobsters to oogle at, there’s plenty to keep kids occupied and entertained. The dining room is designed to replicate a fisherman’s wharf, complete with wooden dock tables, large boat sculptures and deep water tanks holding an assortment of swimming crustaceans. In fact, the concept is inspired by the famous Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, and as one of my favourite places to visit in SF, it was definitely a treat to step out of LKF for a few hours and get a whiff of the Pacific Northwest.
Holy Crab’s menu can be a bit difficult to navigate on your own and figure out adequate portion size, so we turned to our server to recommend a few starters and shared seafood buckets (everything here is meant to be shared family-style). We started off the meal with two salads to whet our appetites. The Cajun Prawn Happiness was an assortment of mesclun lettuce leaves, grilled tiger prawns, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers and avocado. While the salad was fresh enough, I’m not sure it warranted the $130 price tag, especially with just two prawns in the mix. I would recommend digging into the Southern Fried Okra Salad instead – a traditional Southern-style dish with okra fried in yellow cornmeal, peppers, red onions and crispy smoked bacon.
You can’t have a Cajun feast without some fried food, and at Holy Crab you can “Design Your Own Bucket” with your choice of calamari, catfish, scallop, Cajun chicken wings, tiger prawns, soft shell crab, chicken tenders or crawfish poppers – all lightly fried with a lemon pepper, garlic herb or Rajun Cajun seasoning. As a huge fan of soft shell crab, I had high hopes for this dish – unfortunately the batter had softened and it just didn’t have that crunch factor, which was a shame given the fresh, meaty portion of crab. The calamari also lacked the crunchiness and the corn fritters underneath were covered in too much batter, but we did love the giant seasoned potato wedges.
The slightly disappointing start was rectified by the arrival of our low country boil Dungeness Crab and Maine Lobster, swimming in an scrumptious, herb-infused buttery broth – which also coated a generous portion of corn on the cob, red potatoes and Andouille sausage. This one-bucket seafood party perked up the table, as we dug into the massive catch of the day which we had handpicked earlier from the rock pools at the start of the meal.
The lobster and crab were definitely fresh (which was expected given that the seafood is flown in daily from the US), while the Andouille sausage provided a nice spicy and meaty kick to the meal. The corn on the cob was divine, drenched in that herb-butter sauce. You can also add on sides, which include New England slaw, fried sweet potatoes, curly fries, green beans and those corn fritters and potato wedges we tried earlier.
We definitely had more than enough with our two giant seafood boil buckets, though, and were filled to the brim once every last claw had been de-shelled. Unfortunately, there’s no dessert menu here – a bit of a bummer given my love of all things sweet!
With a running nautical theme throughout from the boat models to the cute crab coasters, the restaurant atmosphere and decor is a definite plus. The little ones will absolutely love oohing and aahing over the shellfish tanks, picking out the fresh catch to be devoured later, and giggling at the sight of the giant lobsters and crabs. On the menu, I’d definitely recommend going for the Country Boil, or the large shared platters if you have a big party on hand!
The slightly soggy batter on the fried seafood – we’re hoping they can remedy this as the meat underneath definitely deserves a chance to shine through.
There’s an elevator up to the 3rd floor and plenty of space for strollers getting around the restaurant.
There’s no specific kids’ menu, but they may be able to whip you up a hamburger if you request it!
The whole restaurant is also available to be rented out for kids’ parties and private events, with a tailored catering menu, and use of the projector and large screen. There’s also a private dining room available for up to eight guests with a minimum spend of $8,000.
Not cheap, but in line with other Hong Kong establishments bringing in Western cuisines and ‘dining trends’. Starters range from $70-130 while shared buckets serving 2-3 range from $130-270. Prices can skyrocket with the country boil buckets charged at market price, though, with dungeness crab weighing in at $1,230 / kg and swimming crab at $668 / kg when we visited.
Open 7 days a week. Lunch is served from 11:30am-3pm and dinner from 6pm until late.
Holy Crab, 3/F, Cosmos Building, Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong, www.holycrab.com.hk