Saku

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Saku opened earlier this summer and is a great addition to the Denman/Robson area. The tiny shop can only fit less than 20 people, so be sure to arrive early to secure a seat. The decor inside is very minimal but modern and clean. They specialize katsu also known as pork cutlet.

 

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Rosu Katsu Set

When we visited, it was only shortly after they opened, so their menu was still quite limited. However, I heard that they have since expanded their menu, so you can probably expect much more now. When we visited, S tried the Rosu Katsu Set which features 170 grams of deep fried breaded pork loin for $17. All sets come with unlimited tonjiru which is a pork miso soup they make in house with freshly diced vegetables and pork. The set also comes with unlimited salad and rice. The salad dressings were so addicting that I had quite a few servings of salad. They have both a ponzu and sesame base dressing to choose from. The pork cutlet is coated with panko (Japanese-styled bred crumbs) and is produced from fresh local bread baked every morning and was crispy without being greasy. The pork is sourced from local Fraser Valley farms, raised hormone-free, and is aged 18 hours and tenderized. I thought the pork was quite tender but it definitely did not meet the same standards as the ones I had at Maison in Japan. But again, those cuts were pricier, so you get what you pay. They have a pork filet set which is $1 more but less in quantity, but I heard it is more tender than the loin.

 

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Jumbo Prawn

S also added a Jumbo Prawn for $3.50. It is pretty big and is battered with the same panko. The prawn was sweet and you could dip it in the sweet mayo for more flavour.

 

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Curry Rosu Set

For myself, I ordered the Curry Rosu Set which features 130 grams of deep fried breaded pork loin with their signature curry over rice for $15.50. Again, this came with the unlimited salad and miso soup. The curry was very flavourful and not spicy at all. There was more than enough curry sauce to cover both the rice and pork.

 

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Overall, I enjoyed my meal at Saku and would return given there aren’t too many other katsu spots in the area. Of course, the ones in Japan are still hard to beat. I also thought the service was very friendly and attentive. I know sometimes with unlimited refills for sides, the servers won’t bring it to you unless you ask, but at Saku, the servers will do their rounds every so often and come by to check if you need refills. So unless you’re in a hurry, they will come by without you having to ask for it. I loved how they also asked us for feedback after our meal so they could continue to improve!

Pros:
– Non-greasy quality pork cutlets
– Unlimited refills for side dishes

Cons:
– Wish there were more cuts of pork to choose from

Price Range: $15-25 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 4 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: Paid meter parking Overall: 4

 

Saku Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Giardino

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I’ve been craving Italian food so for my birthday this year, SF took me to Giardino. Located in downtown, the restaurant is quite tucked away and I’ve actually driven by many times without noticing it. The restaurant has been around for many years now and is known for their Tuscan cuisine. We were taken to their patio which is in the back of the restaurant and this was the best decision because the backyard patio is amazing! It felt like we were in Europe with the textured walls and garden. They even had this arch of greenery in the middle of the courtyard which was aesthetically pleasing. Super cute, rustic spot for date night!

 

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Complimentary Flat Bread

To start, we were given complimentary flat bread which was flavoured with olive oil and sea salt. They also gave us focaccia bread with butter which was spongy and I enjoyed it much more.

 

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Creamy Burrata

To start, we shared the Creamy Burrata which was served with a carpaccio of zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and baby arugula with pomegranate dressing. This was not bad, but I wished the burrata was creamier. Also as pomegranates have seeds, it was difficult to enjoy the flavour without being cautious of mistakenly swallowing the seeds. It made enjoying the dish a bit difficult.

 

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Diced Pacific Ahi Tuna

Another appetizer we shared was the Diced Pacific Ahi Tuna which was served on top of avocados and a grape tomato medley with microgreens on top. We told them we were sharing this dish, so I loved how they split the dish in half for us. Pictured above is therefore only half of the dish. I loved this small gesture as it makes it easy to share plates without having to awkwardly portion the food ourselves. As for the dish itself, the tuna was seasoned well and tasted great with the ripe avocados. A great starter!

 

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Spaghetti Al Nero Di Seppia and Oven Roasted Pacific Sablefish

As for our mains, we shared two dishes and again, they were able to portion our meals so we didn’t need to do the work. Therefore, pictured above is half of the spaghetti and half of the sablefish. The Spaghetti Al Nero Di Seppia is spaghetti made with squid ink and therefore features a black colour. This was served with Atlantic lobster medallions, and a cherry tomato sauce. The pasta was served al dente and the tangy sauce paired well with the sweet lobster. Our server shaved fresh Parmesan on top to make the dish more creamy. As for the second main, we had the Oven Roasted Pacific Sablefish which featured a horseradish crust and a variety of vegetables on the side. The sablefish was moist with a nice crispy crust. You can never go wrong with sablefish!

 

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Almond Cannoli

To finish, we had the Almond Cannoli which was filled with a zesty ricotta lemon cream and served with a side of blood orange sorbet and fruits. It was a nice gesture that they also added a candle and birthday message. As we were beyond full, this dessert was light and small enough to enjoy.

Overall, I really enjoyed my food at Giardino. The food felt rustic and although I didn’t think the dishes were presented in a very fancy manner, the food tasted great. As for service, I found it to be a bit slow between courses, but I think it’s a great spot if you don’t want to be rushed and just want to have long conversations. It felt relaxed and our waitress was extremely friendly and warm. I think we were even served by Umberto himself at one point if we’re not mistaken! Prices are definitely on the steeper side, but the ambiance and service is why you’re paying that premium.

Pros:
– Well executed dishes
– Friendly service and beautiful patio

Cons:
– Steep prices

Price Range: $50-60 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 4.5 Ambiance: 5 Parking: Meter parking Overall: 4.5

 

Giardino Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ancora

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For my birthday this year, S took me to Ancora since it’s been on my go-to list for sometime now. The restaurant is located just off the bridge and has a beautiful view of the city by the water.

 

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The interior is beautiful with blue and brown chairs against a white backdrop. I love how the light shines in through the floor to ceiling windows. There is a patio as well but we chose to sit indoors.

 

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Complimentary Bread

To start, we were given complimentary bread.

 

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Nova Scotia Lobster Risotto

Ancora is known for combining Peruvian and Japanese cultures while incorporating a Pacific North West flare so it’s interesting that you’ll find sushi and sashimi here. However, I wasn’t really craving for sushi, so we went for all hot dishes. S and I shared the appetizer size Nova Scotia Lobster Risotto which was served with  preserved lemon, peas, cauliflower, thyme, and hazelnuts. The portion was so small for $24, but S and I both agreed the risotto was delicious! It wasn’t very heavy like the traditional Italian risottos, but rather very light because of the lemon. There was a decent amount of lobster and I especially liked the incorporation of the hazelnuts which gave a nutty chocolate flavour. A really interesting twist to a traditional dish.

 

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Aji Panca Glazed Sablefish

For the main, S got the Aji Panca Glazed Sablefish which came with smoked potato puree, dashi braised daikon, kale gomae, and quinoa crackling. Again, this was nice twist to the typical miso glazed sablefish. Instead, they glazed the fish with aji panca which is a Peruvian spice. The sablefish was moist and the accompanying sides were a delicious pairing.

 

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Seared Scallops and Pork Belly

For myself, I got the Seared Scallops and Pork Belly which was paired with green peas, chanterelles, cipollini, and goat’s cheese agnolotti. At first, I thought the dish wouldn’t be too filling, but it turned out to be quite filling especially because the goat’s cheese agnolotti was rather heavy. The seared scallops were cooked perfectly with a nice golden brown sear. The pork belly could have been more moist, but the pea puree worked well to moisten the pork a bit. Really enjoyed this dish!

 

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To finish, we were given complimentary macarons and cookies. This is usually part of the dinner service regardless if it’s a special occasion, but it was nice that they added a candle. S had put on the reservation online that it was my birthday, so we were actually pretty surprised that our waitress and hostess had not said a single word when we arrived. Further, when our waitress brought the dessert over, she still did not say happy birthday which I found quite odd. It wasn’t until we were paying that she finally ended with happy birthday. Our waitress was actually extremely cold the whole dinner and she even placed the dessert menu down without saying a single word. It was pretty shocking to see such cold service given the ambiance is such nice. However, I think it was just our waitress as I saw other staff being quite warm to their diners.

Overall, I was quite impressed with the dishes and loved the combination of Peruvian and Japanese. For the portion sizes and quality of food, the price is well justified. The ambiance and view is also spectacular and is a great spot to walk around after dinner. However, we definitely did not have good service here, so that was a bit upsetting.

Pros:
– Well executed dishes combining Peruvian and Japanese twists to West Coast dishes
– Ambiance and view of the city is beautiful

Cons:
– We personally had very cold service

Price Range: $50-70 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 2 Ambiance: 5 Parking: Paid meter parking Overall: 4

 

Ancora Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nightingale

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Nightingale is Hawksworth’s sister restaurant and located in a beautiful building next to the MNP Tower. You could easily walk by the building without realizing its a restaurant. I wish I got some outside and interior pictures because the decor is seriously beautiful. The interior is extremely posh and we were seated in their upper level during lunch. The menu is Canadian but you’ll find pizzas, pastas, and a variety of seafood, meat, and vegetables showcasing what the Westcoast has to offer. The restaurant is family style so the dishes are meant to be shared. Of course, you can choose to enjoy an entree all to yourself.

To start, we had the Buttermilk Fried Chicken which was drizzled with a spiced maple syrup, sumac and pickles. The fried chicken was extremely crispy with the meat still moist. It didn’t feel greasy at all and the sour pickles were a nice compliment to the fried chicken.

 

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Roasted Mushroom Pizza

Of course we had to try the pizzas, so we chose the Roasted Mushroom which is vegetarian. This consisted of mushrooms, fontina cheese, confit garlic, and arugula pesto. The pizzas are thin crust crust with the edges charred with pockets. The dough is very light which was great since the cheese was quite heavy. Loved the flavours of the dish and the ingredients were abundant and well distributed.

 

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Spaghetti with Manila Clams

Finally, we tried one of their pastas and chose the Spaghetti with Manila Clams, jalapeño, scallion, and white wine. The spaghetti was cooked to al dente and the sauce was light but enough to keep the pasta moist. There were also many clams in the dish and none of them had sand in it. This is the entree portion, but you can choose to get an appetizer size as well.

Overall, I was very pleased with the food at Nightingale. I thought each dish was well executed and the pricing is quite reasonable for the portions and quality of food given the beautiful ambiance. The prices were a pleasant surprise given Hawksworth can be very pricey. I thought service was a bit intimidating though as our waitress seemed slightly cold although professional. A great place for date night or a casual lunch with a nicer ambiance.

Pros:
– Well executed dishes
– Beautiful ambiance and interior design

Cons:
– Wish our waitress was a bit more warm and friendly

Price Range: $20-40 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 3 Ambiance: 5 Parking: Paid parking in the area Overall: 4

 

Nightingale Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Masayoshi

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Located on Fraser Street, Masayoshi offers only three choices of omakase on their menu. You must also make reservations ahead of time and seating is only available at 6pm or 8pm. The restaurant had won the 2018 VanMag’s Best Japanese cuisine award, so of course I had to come check it out.

 

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We arrived at the 6pm seating on a weekday and it wasn’t too busy. The restaurant is quite small with only three tables of for larger groups, and the remaining seats are at the bar.

 

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We requested to sit at the bar when we made our reservation to ensure we could watch the chef prepare the sushi. This is the best way to truly experience your omakase.

 

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The plate and chopstick holder were very pretty and on the side (which is not pictured) is a holder which has a damp cloth. This is used to wipe and clean your fingers because the chef highly recommends you to eat the sushi with your hands. This traditional way of eating sushi was actually very enjoyable!

 

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Echigo Koshihikari Rice Beer

For drinks, we shared the Echigo Koshihikari Rice Beer. I have never seen this beer at the BC liquor store, but it was light and refreshing. Perfect to pair with your sushi if you don’t want sake.

 

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Miso Soup

There are three omakase sets available: a 14 piece nigiri set ($80), a 16 piece nigiri set ($110), or a 7 course meal which includes both cold and hot dishes ($120). I noticed many people getting the 7 course meal as you get a variety of dishes, but we really just wanted nigiri so we chose the 16 piece set. Included in the set is Miso Soup which was a great way to start our meal.

 

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Spinach Gomae with Enoki with Peanut Sauce and Snapper’s Roe with Ikura

The set also includes an appetizer and that day, we had Spinach Gomae with Enoki in a peanut sauce. A light refreshing start for the meal. On the right was Snapper’s Roe topped with Ikura. The texture of the snapper’s roe was quite interesting and had a bit of salty flavour.

 

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Tai

I won’t go into too much detail of all the nigiris as I can’t remember exactly some of the names of the fish I ate. However, the fish tasted fresh and the amount of rice for each nigiri was just right. The nigiris were well made and didn’t fall apart. I liked how the chef brushed a light soy sauce on top before serving so it was just the right amount.

 

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Hamachi (Yellowtail)

 

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Ika (Squid)

 

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Maguro Blue Fin Tuna

The Maguro was one of my favourite! Included in the omakase was also Toro Blue Fin Tuna but I forgot to get a picture of it. The toro melted in my mouth! So fatty!

 

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Japanese Sea Bream

 

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Missed the name of this one!

 

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Saba (Mackerel)

 

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Tiger Prawn

We watched as the chef skewered a fresh prawn from Japan and took it to the back to cook. The prawn was large and had a bouncy texture!

 

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Hamachi (Mackerel) with Kelp on Top

 

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Red Snapper with Yuzu Zest

 

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Scallop

My favourite scallop did not disappoint! Extremely fresh.

 

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Uni from Hokkaido

The uni was extremely fresh and even my friends who don’t usually eat uni because of bad experiences in the past really enjoyed it. The uni were tiny pieces but very sweet!

 

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Geoduck

The Geoduck was cooked to tender and not chewy at all. Loved the texture!

 

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Sea Eel (Anago)

The Sea Eel was not my favourite at Masayoshi. I usually really enjoy it but I thought this one didn’t have enough of a grilled flavour. I prefer the one at Sushi Bar Maumi.

 

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Tamago

The last piece was Tamago but it was a very different style. It was a bit more spongey than the typical tamago where there are layers. Still, this was a sweet way to end the meal.

 

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Tofu Cheesecake

The set also includes a dessert to finish and today’s dessert was the Tofu Cheesecake topped with some fresh berries. It was sort of like a mousse and I liked how it wasn’t too sweet.

Overall, I quite enjoyed the omakase at Masayoshi. I found the service to be much more enjoyable than many other omakase sushi shops. I find they are usually too strict and it feels really unfriendly. However, the chef although quite quiet unless we chatted with him, would often smile at us and the dining experience felt quite relaxed. I do find that the price of the omakase to be on the steeper side though, but you do get much more pieces of nigiri than many other shops which offer the set at a lower price. Overall, this would be a good meal to celebrate special occasions.

Pros:
– Fish is very fresh
– Service is friendly and ambiance is nice

Cons:
– Price is on the steep side

Price Range: $110 per person for 16 pc omakase set

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4.5 Service: 4 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: Street parking Overall: 4

 

Masayoshi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Ramen Takanotsume

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Ramen Takanotsume took over the spot of Ramenman earlier this year. Ramenman relocated to the Davie Street area. Hearing that the new ramen spot originates from Hokkaido, I was excited to come check it out.

The interior still looks pretty much the same as the previous ramen shop, but the first thing we noticed was the Jay Chou and other mandarin songs playing in the background… It was definitely quite odd at a Japanese ramen shop.

 

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White Dragon Shio

What’s unique about Ramen Taka is that the soup is supposed to be super hot as it is topped with a sizzling spoonful of seasoned Hokkaido lard. And it was definitely as advertised. S got the White Dragon Shio which is flavoured with sea salt. It came with wood ear fungus, bamboo shoots, seaweed, green onion, a large slice of pork and marinated egg. The broth was very flavourful and I also enjoyed the squiggly noodles. However, the toppings were quite disappointing.

 

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Supreme Dragon Miso

For myself, I got the Supreme Dragon Miso which features a blend of several misos to create a super smooth and deep miso flavour. The broth is also slightly spicy. Again, the broth was extremely hot and remained hot throughout my meal. It was a bit too hot for me at the beginning and I really had to blow on my noodles to cool it down. With the same toppings as the White Dragon Shio, they were equally a bit disappointing. The pork was a thin slice but extremely lean and had no fat content at all. I usually like my pork a bit lean, but this was a bit too lean for me. I really needed to submerge the pork in the soup to soften the pork a bit. As for the egg, it was definitely overcooked and was closer to a hard boiled egg. However, the broth was also very flavourful and not too salty.

Overall, I really enjoyed the broths and noodles ane especially appreciated the fact that the broth stayed hot throughout my meal. However, I was personally not a fan of the pork and egg which I think are a major component of the dish. Also, the location, although on Robson is just a bit out of the way and a bit hidden. Will probably come back if I’m around the area though.

Pros:
– Soup remains hot throughout the meal
– Soup base is flavourful

Cons:
– I personally didn’t enjoy the pork and egg

Price Range: $15-20 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3.5 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Meter parking on streets Overall: 3.5

 

Ramen Taka Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Seasons in the Park

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Seasons in the Park is an iconic restaurant inside Queen Elizabeth Park. I had visited the restaurant previously during dinner time to enjoy the night views of the city, but it was my first time visiting for a weekend brunch. The daytime skyline is just as beautiful and we were situated in an elevated area which gave a great view.

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Eggs Benedict

On the weekends, brunch is available and of course I had to take advantage of the brunch menu. I chose to get the Eggs Benedict and added a side of breakfast sausages. The eggs benny came with back bacon, topped with hollaindaise sauce and served with rosemary hash browns and seasonal fruits. The eggs were poached nicely and the hollaindaise sauce was the right consistency. However, I found the English muffin to be a bit tough. Hashbrowns were pretty good though as they were different types of potatoes including yam. Overall not bad, but wouldn’t make the list of my go-to spots for eggs benedict.

 

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BC Cod & Chips

S ordered the BC Cod & Chips which was served with an Asian inspired coleslaw, fries, and house made tartar sauce. This was also not bad but again, not the best in town.

Overall, we had a great experience at Seasons in the Park. The food although nothing to get excited about, is still not bad. The main reason to visit would be for the ambiance and view. The service is also very professional so a great spot to celebrate a special occasion.

Pros:
– Great views of the city
– Ambiance is great for a romantic evening

Cons:
– Food is nothing spectacular

Price Range: $20-40 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3 Service: 4 Ambiance: 4.5 Parking: Paid parking at QE Park Overall: 3.5

 

Seasons in the Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Holy Crab

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Seafood boils have been popping up everywhere in Metro Vancouver, and The Holy Crab is one of them. The restaurant is located on Robson and Cardero, so definitely a bit of a walk if you’re coming from the downtown core. The restaurant is Louisiana inspired and focuses on fresh seafood. To start, you’ll be given a fun bib and gloves to ensure you keep clean. You’ll also get scissors, seafood crackers, and paper towel for this seafood mess.

 

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Shrimp Roll

What I love about The Holy Crab is that there is much more other than seafood boils, and they seem to do these sides right. We got the Shrimp Roll which was seasoned with mayo and cajun powder. The shrimp was filled generously in a delicious butter toasted roll. Loved it!

 

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Crispy Fish and Chips

Another snack we got were the Crispy Fish and Chips, but really, this could be a full meal for one. And this is at the great price of only $9! I wish this was closer to work, so I could come here for lunch. I believe the fish is catfish but it’s super long! The batter was flaky and didn’t feel oily at all. Be sure to get the Cajun fries for your chips as the seasoning is so addictive!

 

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1 lb of Shrimp (half Cajun sauce and half garlic pepper)

Lastly, we had to try their seafood boil, so we chose 1 lb of Shrimp which is a decent amount to share for two if you are getting other items. There are two sauces to choose from – the original Cajun sauce or garlic pepper. With the Cajun sauce, you can also choose how spicy you’d like it. I chose mild and it really wasn’t much spice at all. The garlic pepper is not spicy at all. We were also allowed to get half half for the sauce and next time I would ask for the sauce on the side. I prefer dipping my seafood in the sauce so the sauce isn’t too overwhelming. The shrimp were pretty big and were juicy and we had no complaints. Apparently, some of their other seafood such as crab and lobsters are live so you know the seafood will be fresh.

 

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Overall, I was really pleased with the food at The Holy Crab. I find that the seafood is priced slightly higher than other restaurants, but it seems like the quality is there so it’s worth paying a little more. Also, they don’t boil the seafood in plastic bags which can be a little concerning. Lastly, service was very friendly and prompt and seating is quite comfortable.

Pros:
– Seafood tastes fresh and isn’t overly seasoned
– Side snacks are also well executed

Cons:
– Prices for seafood can be slightly higher than other seafood boils

Price Range: $20-30 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Meter parking on nearby streets Overall: 4

 

The Holy Crab Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato