After hearing Jonathan Gold speak to the Culinary Historians of Southern California, it was hard not to think of food. Gold spoke of more than 25 restaurants that helped form the melting pot of Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine that now spreads across the San Gabriel Valley. Unfortunately, most of the restaurants he spoke of are no longer open, and while that did make since for the audience he was addressing, was rather frustrating for the hungry foodie like myself, who just wanted to be directed to places I could eat at now…rather than in the 80s.
Luckily for me, the last restaurant on his list was the Boiling Crab…a restaurant that is alive and well in many locations, the closest to me being in Alhambra. So after the speech I made my way over to the tiny restaurant off Valley Blvd. in a part of town where Asian cuisine is a must.
I arrived at 12:30 and they had only been open for an hour but there was already a 45-minute wait. What was this place that was so incredibly popular?! During the wait I got excited and impatient to learn more and began browsing yelp reviews on my iphone. According to the 500 reviews, the “Sha-bang” sauce was the way to go, along with some corn and sweet potato fries.
When finally seated, I was armed and ready to order. Garlic filled the air in the restaurant and it had a sort of cheesy, Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory vibe with fishnets on the walls. But the food is way more authentic than anything you can get from Bubba’s.
I ordered the Shrimp and king crab legs, both in the “Sha Bang” sauce and requested “mild” spiciness. The sweet potato fries came out first, and they were standard, good fries. The waitress came over and put bibs on us, so we knew our food was on the way.
Next thing I knew, a plastic bag full of shrimp were plopped down in front of me. They were smothered in the sauce and there were no utensils in sight. This meal involves getting your fingers dirty! We went through half a roll of paper towels, between the peeling, dipping and fishing out of meat with the shrimp and crab.
It’s rather expensive, as lunch for two came to over $75, but that doesn’t seem to affect their business as there is always a wait. It was a fun experience and the food was good, but I don’t think I’m cut out for a long drive to Alhambra and then an hour wait …especially when the crab at Crustacean is probably a little better.
The Boiling Crab 742 W. Valley Blvd. Alhambra (626) 576-9368.