The Holy Crab invites you to put on a plastic bib and completely forget your table manners.
No seriously, this is like the seafood version of Medieval Times: there are no plates and no forks, only a paper tablecloth and shellfish-cracking tools – and you can bet your bottom dollar there will be claws flying everywhere.
The highly-anticipated Louisiana-inspired seafood boil restaurant is the first Canadian location of the Indonesian chain, and it’s already serving up cajun-spiced crustaceans and deep-fried goodness from its Robson Street location.
With its soft launch on January 30, this dinner-only spot is about to become Vancouver’s new go-to haunt for authentic and messy home-cooked seafood and deep-fried goodies.
For snacks and sides, The Holy Crab has a variety of rolls (lobster and crab), along with fried buns, cajun fries, deep-fried calamari, sweet potato fries, sweet corn, and sausage to name a few.
Add any of the two sauces, Cajun and Garlic Pepper, which come in the levels mild, medium, spicy, or Holy Moly, and you’re in for a finger-licking good time.
The menu here uses as much Ocean Wise certified and locally-sourced seafood as possible, like oysters from Fanny Bay – although some items like King Crab can be difficult to obtain in Canadian waters. All the seafood here is super fresh, and there’s a tank in the kitchen to prove it.
The succulent Dungeness crab, lobster, and crawfish steal the show as they all arrive in-shell and smothered in Cajun or garlic sauce with lime wedges.
Cooked to perfection and served in authentic seafood-boil silver buckets, it’s only a matter of time before you’re reaching for the array of crackers, scissors, and picks to dig in and get down to business.
If you’re not well-versed in the correct de-shelling procedure, check out “The Dummies’ Guide To De-Shelling” plastered on the wall, the how-to video playing on one of the space’s three TVs, or simply ask one of The Holy Crab’s staff members to help you pry open your dinner.
Prices for the larger crustaceans are set by the pound at the seasonal price, and the sides and cocktails won’t break the bank, so this restaurant is a great place to have a celebratory dinner with a small group, not to mention sharing here is pretty much expected, so gatherings are welcome.
When the carnage is over, guests can wash their hands in the trough sink, which is accessible through a large open hallway – because trying to get through doors with hands covered in sauce would be madness. You can also ask for a bucket of water with a lime in it to get cleaned up right in your seat – talk about service, right?
The open concept of the space plays into the idea of eating as a community.
In The Holy Crab it feels like you’re dining at a large gathering, bouncing along to the music and watching as other guests receive their over-the-top dishes at the table next door. Plain and simple, it’s just good vibes in here.
The liquor license is anticipated to be ready in a few weeks, when cocktails and beers will be available for order. In the summer this spot will open a small patio along the side of the building, so you can feast in the evening light of the summer.
Aside from the delicious, fresh food, the great atmosphere, and the unique dining experience, The Holy Crab forces guests to do something hardly any other eatery can do – put their phones down.
Why? Well, not only are your hands too busy ripping into crab legs (not to mention they’ll be sticky), but you’ll also be having way too much fun to check out who retweeted you in the middle of dinner.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t expect to take any photos at all – in fact, The Holy Crab offers selfie-sticks to customers who wish to take photos of their unique dining experience (before and after shots, anyone?).
The Holy Crab is open for dinner service only from 5 pm to around 11 pm daily.
Address: 1588 Robson Street, Vancouver