I had been hearing about The Boiling Crab in South San Jose for ages. Great stuff everyone said. Long lines everyone said. I even have a girlfriend who will drive all the way from the East Bay to wait in that hour long line (they don't take reservations) just to eat there. And at one point Mr. L and I did try to eat at the Capital Expressway location, but due to the long line ended up at Crawdaddy's instead.
When the new Boiling Crab location opened up last month at The Plant, we figured at some point, maybe when we were really really hungry, we'd brave the lines to try the place. Imagine our surprise a few weeks ago when we drove by and saw no line. It was about 3:30 in the afternoon, but we were hungry so we found a parking spot (not easy to do with Famous Dave's and Five Guys sharing the parking) walked right in and were seated.
They did have a sign at the door stating that they were out of most types of crab. And I know that we should be ordering crab at a place called The Boiling Crab, but honestly, living in this area, we truly do get our fill of Dungeness crab so it didn't bother us that the crab options were either out or, too expensive (The crab and lobster is market price and believe me, that ain't cheap.Though the Dungeness was roughly $10 a lb., a crab ran maybe 2-3 pounds so that started to add up. Same with the lobster. At $15 a pound it wasn't really a bad price but each lobster was about 2 pounds). Mr. L and I ended up ordering a pound of shrimp and a pound of clams (at $9.99 a pound each). We also ordered one side order of white rice ($2 for about two cups worth).
You have your choice of seasonings for your items. Rajun Cajun, Lemon Pepper, Garlic Butter or a combination of all three called "The Whole Sha-Bang". You can also order how spicy you want the meal to be ('not', 'mild', 'medium' or' XXX (I can't feel my mouth)'. I went with medium heat (Mr. L chose mild) and we both ordered the combination of all three seasonings.
Now the "accommodations" at Boiling Crab are well, casual. There is no tablecloth (just butcher paper covering your eating space). There are no napkins (they bring you a roll of paper towels). There are no eating utensils (you eat with your hands, but if you need them for things like the rice they will bring you plastic forks etc). There are no plates (food gets dumped on the table). At least they bring you bibs. Take the bibs. Use them.
The crab/clams/shrimp etc. is brought to you in a plastic bag, the food swimming in the sauce and seasonings. And something else to be aware of...the shrimp or crayfish or crab comes "au natural"...with heads, bodies and tails still on. You'll have to work to get your food.
So the main question is, was it worth it? Oh hell yes! I'm not sure what is in the "whole sha-bang" sauce but that garlic, lemon, pepper, cajun mix was mighty tasty. And the medium "heat" was perfect for me, left my mouth tingling a bit but I wasn't on fire (your mileage may vary as I do like the heat). The shrimp was perfectly cooked. Mr. L liked his clams though he found there wasn't enough in a pound to really make a meal. I had no problem with working for my food, i.e. having to take the heads off the shrimp and peel them. The best thing to do is peel the shrimp and then take the peeled shrimp and toss it back in the bag to soak up that awesome sauce. If you are really decadent, suck all the sauce off the shrimp before you peel it. If you are weird like Mr. L, suck all the stuff out of the shrimp heads before peeling. If you are really really weird (not that we are, no not us) sing under your breath "shrimp heads shrimp heads, tiny little shrimp heads, shrimp heads shrimp heads, eat them up NOW". Actually the shelling of the shrimp is a great excuse to lick the sauce off your fingers which worked for me.
Your orders also come with a small container of salt and pepper. Don't ignore this. With a bit of lemon juice and the salt and pepper it made the shrimp sauce sing. The side of rice was perfect for us. We started out with eating our shrimp over the rice so the sauce dripped into the rice and soaked up all that great cajun flavor. At one point we just started spooning the sauce at the bottom of the shrimp bag onto the rice. There is talk of ordering extra of the rice to take home next time just so we can use up all that extra sauce left in the bags.
There are other items you can get at The Boiling Crab...fried foods like catfish, oysters, calamari. You also can order sides such as corn on the cob, french fries, sausages, potatoes. We actually on a subsequent trip (oh yes, we've been back and we've waited in line 40 minutes for a table) tried the sweet potato fries which were actually pretty good (I'm not a sweet potato person and Mr. L had to fight for his share).
The service has been up and down, depending on how busy the place is, but for the most part we've found the servers friendly. I'd comment on how clean the place is but it's barely been open a month so that should be a given.
Will we go back? Well, we've already been back. We probably won't fight the crowds on a weeknight but early on a weekend, if we are anywhere in the vicinity and the lines don't look too long, you can bet we'll try to stop by. $30 with tip for food, 1 soda, water (which was 25 cents and came in a to go cup) and rice.
The Boiling Crab
71 Curtner Ave Ste. #20
San Jose, CA 95125