Las Vegas, 2013. I am convinced by my lovely wife to try something new and different for a meal. She navigates us to a place called Hot ‘n Juicy. You may have heard of it, they were featured on the Travel Channel several years ago due to their delicious spicy seafood boil gaining them city-wide popularity.
After being featured on national television, it was next to impossible to get a seat inside, depending on the time of day you go. We tried it, and it is definitely delicious — we go every time we go to Vegas, to get our seafood boil fix.
But we don’t have to wait, or travel several hours out of town anymore.
I’m not a big fan of the crawfish, but like I tell my wife, if you don’t like something, chances are you haven’t had it prepared right. King Crab is the newest restaurant to open their doors in El Paso, and I like their crawfish.
Which is saying a lot, because I am an incredibly picky eater. On any given day, I can drive down Mesa during my lunch hour and spend thirty solid minutes, just trying to figure out what to eat.
Back to King Crab. They have just opened in East El Paso, as part of the Zaraplex shopping Center (1700 N Zaragoza Rd) conveniently located next to Cowboy Touch Saloon.
Upon entry, you become slightly displaced as the air is filled with sounds of New Orleans and smells of a seafood boil. The decor is set to match that of a seafaring ship, and – on the wall – a massive chalkboard showing their freshest menu offerings, which are flown in every 24 hours.
We aren’t in El Paso anymore. This is probably the one place to get the freshest seafood in El Paso. Remember folks, we are in the desert here, land locked and at least 12 hours from the nearest ocean. And how many times have you seen the Sysco truck outside your favorite seafood place? That isn’t fresh.
The menu is laid out well, and you can pick several different flavors for your selections. We chose the following to try from the menu: Oysters Rockefeller, Shrimp, crawfish and snow crab legs. Going for the medium degree of spiciness, with a large dark beer to put the fires out, should any arise.
If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, you know that these things take time, so you continue to enjoy your beer, and another…maybe a hurricane (the drink) is in order because I’m starting to get that New Orleans feeling. The owner stops by and talks to us, explains how the chef in the back is from New Orleans. This is going to be good.
The Oysters Rockefeller arrived first, and appearing different from what we’ve seen locally before. These can be prepared in a variety of ways depending on your location and usually have their own independent feel and taste. Generally speaking, they are seasoned and baked in an oven prior to being served.
There are no two places that prepare Oysters Rockefeller the same, in our experience, and this was no different. First off, they were petite, which are the most flavorful oysters you can have.
The seasoning was delicious — indescribable — you’ll have to go and try them for yourself. Definitely good.
The main course finally arrives — not that the wait was bad, it was expected and aligned with our past experiences with this type of food. Everything is bagged and in a medium tin bucket, as I cannot take my eyes off of it at this point.
The table was previously covered in butcher paper, so the waiter asks if we want it served traditional style. “Yes, please” my wife tells him, and he proceeds to dump the entire meal onto the table for us. What a spread it is, the aromas begin to make my mouth water and we immediately dive in.
One of my biggest complaints with every restaurant in El Paso that serves seafood is that they consistently overcook it. Almost as if “chewy and lacking flavor” should be in the product description of their menus.
This was not the case with the shrimp, crab legs and crawfish here. Everything was cooked correctly, nothing chewy, and still retained flavor that could be tasted through medium spiciness of the sauces. Overcooked seafood can be easily tasted, even in the strongest of sauces.
King Crab did it right. Mixed in with the boil were potatoes, sausage and corn on the cob, all of which were cooked to perfection — and not drowning in the sauce flavors — as if there is some sort of science that was figured out by the chef, to perfectly pre-cook certain items and get all of them into the same boil for a consistent but independent flavor that — just somehow went together.
The same can be said for the shrimp. After peeling, they were not tough or chewy but rather plump and juicy, popping as you bite into each one. The crawfish I actually liked better than any place I had tried before. It wasn’t overbearingly spicy or salty, and had a solid, independent flavor as well.
Rounding King Crab out — if you are a seafood lover, and especially a seafood boil lover — this place is definitely for you.
If you’ve never tried this kind of food before, you don’t have to go as far East as New Orleans to get your foodie experience anymore.
Stop off at King Crab and give them a try, you are going to love it.