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Sea Side Crab House, Eden Center


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"How did you find out about this place?" the man asked me.

"I was going for a Banh Mi, and noticed your sign. How long have you been open?"

"About a month."

I walked into Sea Side Crab House after noticing a red neon crab on its window. I was a little surprised I hadn't noticed it before - it's in the front building, next to Banh Mi So 1, and it's pretty conspicuous.

What they're doing is taking fresh (or well-frozen) shellfish, and serving it up cajun style. Their "signature dish" is Louisiana Cajun Crawfish, which they sold out of yesterday - they also have Texas Jumbo Blue Crab, Alaska Snow Crab Leg, Gulf Oyster, Chesapeake Clam, New England Clam Chowder, etc. I got a pound of Cajun Shrimp for $9.99, and took it home with me. This was a full pound of head-on shrimp, well-cooked, and dry-rubbed in a cajun spice that is pretty darned hot. There was nothing Vietnamese about this dish at all, although several items on their menu are.

But the biggest draw of all here is the patio - about eight tables, each seating four, and all of them well-shaded under large umbrellas. Assuming you can live with Heineken and Miller Lite on draft, sitting on this patio with a few plates of crab, clam, and crawfish would be a really nice way to spend a couple hours on a beautiful Spring afternoon with friends. And let me say also that as much as I hate Miller Lite, an ice-cold beer is exactly what you want with this type of spicy shellfish.

"Are you the owner?" I asked the gentleman.

"The customer is the owner," he told me. "And if you don't like it, you don't pay a thing. But if you DO like it, you have to tell all your friends to come try us. Deal?"

"Deal."

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Has no one else been here yet? Must I be the first? Don wanna meet the familia for a beer and crabs?

We had a small chowhound gathering a few weeks ago--results were mixed. The Vietnamese dishes were pretty good, the plain seafood, less so. I have relatives in Louisiana and have eaten at crawfish houses several times; the crawfish were just not up to Cajun snuff. They were too waterlogged.

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Sea Side Crab House is a cute little restaurant. When I went there in June, the outdoor dinning area was packed with Vietnamese families. Most tables had several pitchers of cold brew and a big bowl of crawfish. We ordered oysters, spicy salt soft shell crab, and clams. The oysters were a dollar a pop, definitely a bargain, however its flavor was mediocre, not briny and clean like those from Hank's. The spicy salt soft shell crab was seasoned just right, crisp, but not too oily. The portion was also very generous, it didn't occur to me to count at the time, but my guess would be that there was about 3 crabs per order. The clams, however, was the worst I have ever had. They were not tender little neck that I originally expected, but instead huge almost palm size clams that were way over cooked. It was flavorless, gritty, and rubbery. Overall, this is a place worth a visit if you are in the Eden center and if you know what to order.

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Last week, before Sandy hit, when the temperature was still balmy, I went to the crab house for some bun bo hue and grilled clams. The bun bo hue they served up had everything - pigs leg, beef tendon, fish cake (but no pigs blood but I didn't miss it), more heat than any other bun bo hue that I've had, but it was light on salt. The grill clams were little necks, very tender, and delicious with slightly sweet sauce. Wish I had a cold pitcher a beer to wash it down with.

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Last week, before Sandy hit, when the temperature was still balmy, I went to the crab house for some bun bo hue and grilled clams. The bun bo hue they served up had everything - pigs leg, beef tendon, fish cake (but no pigs blood but I didn't miss it), more heat than any other bun bo hue that I've had, but it was light on salt. The grill clams were little necks, very tender, and delicious with slightly sweet sauce. Wish I had a cold pitcher a beer to wash it down with.

They serve pitchers of beer there, don't they?

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It came as no surprise that I noticed today that Sea Side Crab House is closed, and probably has been for awhile - Eden Center is undergoing a massive turnover, and I suspect that several entries in the Dining Guide are now closed - the entirety of Eden Center needs to be revisited.

I also predict that, with its new anchor, Eden Center will be undergoing something of a renaissance, but it will take another 6-12 months to get there with all the construction going on.

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