King Crab Oyster Bar & Grill
Despite several seafood restaurants in KW, King Crab Oyster Bar & Grill remains the only one that pops into my head when I get a craving for fresh raw oysters. They seem to be always offering discount deals (in those coupon books you get in the mail) for BOGO $20 off, or $10 for lunch. We decided on lunch as Cafe O, conveniently located in the same plaza, was on our itinerary for coffee and dessert.
My first experience at was two summers ago, on Y’s birthday. It was a beautiful day and we sat out at their patio. Despite a lovely service, the food fell so flat that it took me two years to muster up the courage to go again. The New England Seafood Chowder ($7) was forgettable, but it could be due to Y’s high expectations since he had a delicious chowder in Boston earlier the same year. Two of the oysters tasted oddly sour and foul, but our server very graciously offered replacements. We shared a huge entree of (no longer on menu) half a lobster + shark steak, which was overly chewy and bland. I must sound pretty harsh, but the meal had sorely disappointed me. For dinner at a specialty seafood restaurant like King Crab, we usually go with the mentality of splurging for the best. With that, one can easily chalk up over a $100 for a medium portion meal. I love seafood so much that with high expectations comes even higher disappointment.
However, every bad experience deserves a second chance yah?
Since we sat outside the previous time, this was my first opportunity to truly appreciate the interior decor.
King Crab follows the open concept style, which allowed the aroma of buttery creamy magic happening in the kitchen to fill the whole dining area. I think this is one of their secrets to efficient service as even with servers in the kitchen, they could easily see whether customers need refills. The ability to observe the chef at work made it an intimate dining atmosphere despite us sitting all the way across at the corner of the room.
The plaza was packed with cars so I was surprised that we were the first ones there for lunch at around 12.30pm. People started trickling in closer to 1pm.
The dining room manager’s witty and pleasant personality contributed to the wonderful service.
Our appetizers were promptly served but the entrees took more than 30 minutes, which seemed slightly long considering there were only two other tables occupied. However, I do think lunch is a great alternative to get the best value out of classier restaurants (if your schedule allows it), since you can get the same entrees for significantly cheaper prices. I wonder if the portion sizes remain the same at dinner.
On the Table for Maple:
- Fresh Shucked Oysters – half-dozen ($16, same price at dinner)
- Crispy Thai Red Curry Catfish ($15 at lunch, $24 at dinner)
- Traditional New Orleans style Jambalaya ($19 at lunch, $27 at dinner)
Served with a trio of sauces; key lime, cracked pepper and chili, Mandarin orange and ginger vinaigrette and tomato, cilantro and shallot mignonette.
We did not use the sauces as we wanted to get the original naked taste. The loud “SLURP” from eating oysters always gives me a huge satisfaction! Fortunately, the oysters tasted fresh this time. On the bad side, it was nothing too extremely fantastic (which I blame our geographical location and not the restaurant).
I rarely order fried seafood but I really wanted to have some catfish. Ordering fish at restaurants is always a risky move, with the skyrocketing probability of it being overcooked/undercooked.
I ordered the Crispy Thai Red Curry Catfish with a coconut rice cake, sautéed baby bok choy and lemongrass and lime aioli.
No where on the dish did I taste a hint of red curry, but it was an absolute fantastic choice and I highly recommend this item. The fried fish surprisingly retained its tenderness and freshness, with a very sharp, clean crisp in every bite. I thought the bak choy was an odd choice of vegetable, but the creamy aioli really tied each element of the dish together – I made sure all the aioli went to my tummy! Of course, there is the seemingly innocent and plain coconut rice cake, which turned out to be an exotic burst of sweet and savoury flavours. If you are nuts about coconut like me, you will definitely love the rice cake. The lightly charred surface added a perfect crunch to the soft and moist rice center; a very creative exciting twist to this dish.
Y ordered the fresh mussels, black tiger shrimp, chicken and Andouille sausage braised with lobster stock, long grain rice and Spanish hot smoked paprika.
Y enjoyed his dish as well. though not as much as I loved mine. The jambalaya was slightly dry, but undeniably a robustly flavoured dish. The spice level could be a little intense for some so if you do not take spicy well, be sure to let your server know. There was a generous portion of mussels, but the saltiness of the sausages got a little heavy pretty quickly. I ate two bites, but was too excited about my own order to eat more of Y’s. Teehee.
When came time for the bill, we presented the discount coupon only to be notified that beverage purchase was required. Ah, my apologies – totally missed that little line on the coupon! However, the accommodating manager very graciously allowed the discount. A lovely end to the 2nd visit and I will be back for the 3rd.
Where: 907 Victoria Street North, Kitchener
For Maple’s original post with lots of great pictures please visit Table for Maple.