Thanks to the team at VANEATS.ca we were invited to Cray Kitchen + Bar and try the new “Cray-vings” package. Cray features Southern Seafood Boil, Louisiana style. Kind of reminded me of my trip to New Orleans several years ago through my student club (gees did I just date myself lol). That said, after reading Sherman’s horrible experience at Crawfish King, I was hoping that it was an isolated incidence and it’s not attached to this type of restaurant.
And I was right. The overall experience was very pleasant at Cray. For $18.50 you get 5 things:
- 1/2 lb of crawfish, shipped live from Louisiana
- 1/2 lb of shrimp, shipped from Thailand/Ecuador
- 3 pieces of Cod Nuggets, deep fried and crispy
- 2 pieces of Deep Fried Oysters, spiced in a Louisiana cajun fry batter
- Cajun Fries, cajun spice peppered
Let’s talk about the deep-fried goodness. The Cod Nuggets were similar to what you find in fish & chips, except they are baby size and with a much thinner batter. In fact, I prefer this type of batter than the beer batter of fish & chips. The fish was very moist yet flaky, and the batter was seasoned nicely. It worked well in both the tartar sauce or the spicy aioli.
The Deep Fried Oysters were just as yum! They were the bigger oysters that were meant for cooking (vs. raw oysters), and they were plump and juicy. There was barely any batter so you can taste the actual flavours of the oysters. This, you need the spicy aioli.
The Fries were nice and crisp, but we realized ours didn’t have much flavour (if any). We weren’t sure if they were regular fries or cajun fries, as it should be in the package. Turns out we got the regular fries, so our server kindly gave us an order of Cajun Fries on the house. The cajun spices were spicy! Perhaps they put extra spices to make up the lack of flavours in the regular fries, it had a nice level of heat that burns a little all the while you keep going back for more!
Now onto the star of the package, the seafood boil. Before we get into it, let me forewarn you that this does get messy. So keep your fancy dress at home, and put away your smartphone and expensive watch, and put on the bib and maybe the gloves that are provided to you. Sauces will splatter all over the table, and maybe even your clothes!
We got 1/2 lb each of Crawfish and Shrimp. Honestly we’ve never had crawfish before so we were quite intrigued to give it a try. It’s like a baby lobster but with meat texture of a shrimp, and slightly mushy. With 1/2lb each, there were about 8-9 crawfish and 6 decent-sized shrimps. We had 4 seasonings to choose from, and we picked the recommended Cray Mix, which essentially is a mix of the other 3 seasonings (Juicy Cajun, Garlic Butter, and Lemon Pepper), and Medium spicy. The seafood comes in the traditional plastic bag.
It was very fragrant! As soon as you open the bag, you can smell the garlic. Then, in addition to the cajun seasoning, you can taste a hint of zesty lemon in the sauce. Medium is not very spicy; Mr. said he could’ve handled the Spicy level. (Note: XXX is the spiciest and according to our server she lost her voice for a week afterwards). It’s best to peel the shells, then dip the meat back in the sauce to absorb all the flavours. Could use some bread or fries to soak in the extra sauce too. Seafood boil works so well with beer; personally I think it’s better with lighter beer.
The package itself wasn’t enough for the two of us, so we ordered 1lb of Clams as well. To try something different, we chose Juicy Cajun as seasoning, again Medium spicy. There was a decent amount of clams in the bag; given the size of clam meat it didn’t take very long for us to finish it. Interesting sauce – it tasted sweet at first, then a spicy aftertaste. It’s also oilier than the Cray Mix. If you had to choose one, I would recommend Cray Mix because it captures the best of everything.
Because the server knew ahead of time that we were food bloggers, we might have received more attentive service than regular customers. I’d like to think that it’s not the case, but I wouldn’t know for sure. Especially the cajun fries incident. I hope that they would offer to comp an order of cajun fries for any customer if they realized there was a mix-up.
That said, looking around, I noticed that they were equally attentive to other customers. Warm welcome while giving friendly introduction to Southern seafood boil. I also like that they created this instruction sheet on how to eat crawfish since it’s not something commonly found in BC.
People may consider this a fad but I consider this a cultural experience. Seafood boil may not be your day-to-day diet but I thought it was a lot of fun eating with your hands. The “Cray-vings” package is definitely a good preview of this type of food, and I see myself take out-of-town guests or organize gatherings there.
Cray Kitchen and Bar
2470 Main Street, Vancouver