The Boiling Crab Opens First Int’l Location in Shanghai

By That's Shanghai, October 23, 2020

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The Place 

In 2004, a third generation fisherman from Texas, wanting to introduce his love of Cajun seafood boils to the American masses, opened the first Boiling Crab in California. Riding on the coattails of the venue’s instant success, he soon opened 20+ more locations in other parts of California, Texas, Las Vegas, Florida and Hawaii.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

After enjoying the brand so much in Los Angeles, a Shanghai restauranteur approached the Boiling Crab owner, wanting to share this brand – loved so much by anyone from everyday Americans to celebrities, politicians to musicians – with the international foodie community. More specifically, with the international city of Shanghai. After opening in May, The Boiling Crab in Shanghai became the brand’s first location abroad, with another space in Australia set to open early next year. 

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At The Boiling Crab, it’s all about digging in with your hands and getting messy – so messy that you can’t play on your phone, leaving you to – shock – actually interact with the people you came with. The focal point here is the fresh seafood, and enjoying it the way seafood should be enjoyed – smothered in tasty sauce, in an unpretentious setting and in good company. A cold beer or a refreshing cocktail from their full bar never hurts.

The Food 

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A seafood boil is an American pastime, up there with BBQs, fish frys and potlucks. It’s a social gathering that involves shellfish as the central element, with the Louisiana Cajun tradition being the most well-recognized. Boiling Crab offers the most abundant kind of seafood boil, with every possible crustacean alternative, along with fried goodies like chicken wings, French fries (killer sweet potato and Cajun fries, ideal for sopping up that extra seafood sauce), spring rolls and a fried sole fish basket that puts most other Shanghai fish and chip options to shame. 

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The star of the show – and the major distinguisher between the Shanghai and USA locations – is the live-fresh seafood tank that lines the front wall of the restaurant. Filled to the brim with Russian-imported Long-Legged Crab, English Bread Crab, Canadian Boston Lobster, North American Dungeness Crab and Shanghai-native Hairy Crab, guests know they are getting the freshest and highest quality seafood at any given time. Bonus, everyday after 10:30pm, all live-fresh seafood is 32% off. 

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Other frozen-fresh options like Ecuadorian Shrimp (RMB89 for 450 grams) and New Zealand Green-Lipped Mussels (RMB88 for 450 grams) should not be skipped over. The large prawns are succulent and juicy, cooked to perfection with that requisite snap – and served in a hefty portion of 20-25 shrimp, making them ideal for sharing. 

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After selecting your ‘catch,’ guests can choose from any of four different sauce option: a spicy Rajun Cajun – that is the exact same spice blend used in the USA locations – a buttery Garlic Sauce, a tangy Lemon Pepper Sauce or their signature Whole Sha-Bang Sauce, a combo of all three. Next, select a spice level and add your extras; we suggest the andouille sausage and sweet corn on the cob. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

As Hairy Crab is in season, The Boiling Crab now offers four hairy crab (two males and two females) for RMB188 that are boiled and sauced up like the other crab offerings. An interesting alternative to the steamed hairy crab served with vinegar everywhere else in the city, this fusion hairy crab dish brings together flavors from the Southern United States with an East China seafood delicacy. 

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Aside from the seafood boil, the Fried Sole Fish Basket (RMB48) is something we kept coming back to. A substantial serving of delicate sole fish is lightly breaded and flash fried, then served atop crispy Cajun fries along with tartar sauce. With a portion big enough to feed two, there’s no reason to not swing by for another round this weekend, accompanied by a cold pint. Make that two beers every Sunday through Thursday, when The Boiling Crab has buy-one-get-one-free on all draft beers: All. Day Long. We’re talking 35 rambos for an entire liter of Budweiser draft. That same deal applies on Friday and Saturday from 2-7pm. 

The Vibe

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Stepping into The Boiling Crab is like time-warping your way into a laid-back California family restaurant. From the wooden booth seating to the early 2000s hip hop jams to the graffiti walls that guests can tag, it’s equal parts easy-going and unpretentious. For anyone looking for bold Southern USA flavors in a modern chain restaurant setting, The Boiling Crab is the place to go. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Boiling Crab is a place to grab a cold one with friends, while munching on some of the best fish and chips in Shanghai. It’s a late night eats spot, that just so happens to have fresh seafood in legitimately finger-lickin’ good sauces. It’s a casual date lunch or dinner spot, when you’re not embarrassed to get your hands dirty – real dirty – in the tastiest of ways. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Boiling Crab is not reinventing the wheel. In fact, it’s doing the opposite. It’s taking a concept that has proven itself over and over again from the USA, picked it up, and dropped it right in the heart of American Town, aka Xintandi, where it belongs. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Price: RMB50-100 per person for snacks, RMB200-250 per person for a full seafood meal
Who’s Going: Seafood lovers, Americans, Chinese that studied in the USA and understand the deliciousness that is The Boiling Crab
Good For: Casual dinners, late night seafood feasts, afternoon beers with friends, team building outings


From October 23-31, The Boiling Crab is running some Pirates of the Caribbean-themed  Halloween specials – all eat-in diners donning a costume receive a drink on the house, and all kids receive a free pumpkin soup. On October 31, stop in for the Halloween costume contest, where the three best costume wearers will receive a RMB100 Boiling Crab voucher. Scan the poster’s QR code for more details. 

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See a listing for The Boiling Crab. Read more Shanghai Restaurant Reviews.

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

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