BYOB (Build Your Own Boil) at the Mad Crab
University City, MO/August 9, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – No plates! Who ever heard of a restaurant with no plates? At the Mad Crab at 8080 Olive Blvd. in University City, they line the tables with paper and serve your boil or fried basket right on the table—they just dump it out and you dig in. This is fresh, casual dining at its best.
The concept may be new to St. Louis, but it’s old hat in Texas and California. First time restaurateurs and brothers Nam and Victor Ho modeled their restaurant after similar concepts Victor Ho had discovered while living in Dallas. Victor Ho had moved to Texas after selling his successful nail supply business (Max Beauty Source) on Olive to other family members a few years ago. He’s partnered with his brother Nam Ho in the new venture. Nam Ho, who lives here, manages the Mad Crab’s day-to-day operations, including leading the restaurant’s culinary team.
The Mad Crab opened July 17th at 8080 Olive Blvd., where Kim Son Vietnamese Bistro had been before it closed in May. The Ho brothers gave the restaurant a nautical facelift, with wood planking on some walls, lots of netting, and rustic wooden posts that give the interior a seaside vibe. Victor gives University City officials credit for moving things along swiftly so that he and Nam could get the restaurant up and running in such a short time.
The ultra-simple concept puts the focus on the fresh seafood itself. Customers choose which seafood to include in their boil: blue crab, crab legs (Snow, Dungeness or King crab), crawfish, lobster, shrimp (heads on or off), oysters, clams, or mussels. Seafood is priced by the pound, and varies based on market prices because it’s fresh. Frozen crawfish can be had for $6/pound. Clams will run you $11/pound, mussels $10/pound. Mix and match the seafood options any way you like. Diners can order steamed rice to go with their BYOB or add the traditional corn, potatoes, or sausage to their boil, then pick from three flavor options that can be combined any way you want. The choices include: Cajun, lemon pepper, and garlic sauce, or “The Whole Sha-Bang!” which combines all three. Spice levels can be adjusted too. The menu explains the range this way: non spicy (plain n simple), mild (just a kick), medium (it’s getting HOT in here!) and XXX (I can’t feel my mouth). The seafood is boiled, seasoned, and literally dumped on your paper-lined table—no plates or utensils. It really is a fun way to eat, especially if you’re sharing.
The fried baskets work on the same principle. They offer breaded, fried catfish, fried shrimp or fried chicken tenders. Each is served with an order of French fries or Cajun fries. There are also apps including raw Gulf oysters, hot wings (seasoned with the same Cajun, lemon-pepper, or garlic sauce), and fried shrimp baskets. Like the boils, they cook it up and dump it on your table so you can dig in with your fingers. If you’re really not into finger food, you can order a plate from a menu that includes gumbo, fried rice, and noodles with crawfish or shrimp.
The Mad Crab is open Monday – Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and Saturday – Sunday from noon to 11:00 p.m. The Ho brothers plan to add canned and bottled beer, along with wine to their offerings, as soon as their liquor license is approved. In the meantime, customers can wash down that scrumptious, fresh seafood with a soft drink.