King Crab Showdown

Straight out of an episode of Deadliest Catch come these monstrous crustaceans that require hands-on commitment and plenty of napkins. Generally, Chinese restaurants prepare them in a very similar manner, so follow these tips to get the most out of the King crab experience:

  • First off, know that King crabs are seriously big. Go with a group of at least four hungry diners.
  • The minimum size of crab you should order is seven pounds; otherwise, the meat/shell ratio is just not good value. An 11-pound crab shared between six people feels like a real treat.
  • The live crab is always brought to your table for inspection as a guarantee of freshness. Photo-op time (if you must).
  • The knuckles, where the crab legs meet the carapace, are best deep-fried with a spicy, garlicky salt.
  • Ask for the giant legs to be split and steamed under a blanket of garlic, rendering them beautifully succulent and sweet.
  • The crab carapace is often stuffed with baked fried rice—order it lightly curried, Portuguese style.
  • Ask for yee mein noodles to toss in the steamed juices, a great accompaniment. Add more side dishes: sweet pea tips with garlic, crispy-skin chicken, and tangy “capital”-style spare ribs are all excellent choices.
  • Generally, with tax and tip, expect to spend about $50 per person. (Not bad for a giant crab blow out.)

Here are three restaurants that prepare King crab particularly well:

Sun Sui Wah

The original purveyor and many say still the best. Over 200 pounds of crabs are sold every day during the brief season—oversize holding tanks and a battery of giant steamers keep the food coming fast and fresh. Sablefish with house soy and Chekiang sparerib hot pot are excellent accompaniments. 102-4940, No. 3 Rd., Richmond 604-273-8208

Kirin Seafood

All the locations are well appointed, but the new Starlight Casino location in New Westminster is particularly swish. The soaring ceilings and push surroundings seduce diners away from the Richmond Chinese restaurant powerhouses. High rollers are known to spend thousands of dollars on a meal here. Feeling lucky? An after-dinner visit to the slots may be in order. 350 Gifford St., New Westminister, 604-528-8833

Bing Sheng Restaurant

A newcomer to the Vancouver scene, this restaurant is named after a famous chain from Guandong province in China. The room is decorated like a red presidential wedding cake, and the loud, boisterous crowd is part of its charm. The live crab is brought and weighed tableside as a show of honesty (something not taken for granted back in China).  The roasted and BBQ pork are exemplary, while the tableside Peking duck service is also a treat.  1800 Renfrew St., 604-215-1800