Since its crabbing season I decided to give it a try, especially after learning that your allowed to take up to 35 crabs a day per person. Also no fishing license is required if you are on a municipal pier. Popped over to Sports Authority to buy a crab cage ($39.99), and bait holder ($10), crab ruler ($2, crabs have to be larger then 4 inches), Walmart to buy a 100 foot rope and buoy ($6.49) and 99 ranch to buy some cheap raw chicken for bait. The cheaper alternative is to buy a crab snare for 6 dollars at Sports authority, but you have to haul up the rope very quickly otherwise the crabs will fall out of the snare. Location wise I scoped out two places 1)Pacifica Pier, where you can catch dungeness crab as well as red rock crab, however the pier is very high which necessitates a long rope and many times the waves are huge which discourages crab from the area. 2)Crissy Field fishing pier at the foot of Golden Gate Bridge. Here you can only take non-dungeness crabs because anything east of GG bridge is a protected breeding ground. In a span of two hours at Crissy field I hauled up 8 crabs, 4 that were around 7 inches in diameter. Tired from the adventure I went to the nearby Best Panda restaurant on Balboa on a hunch they would clean and cook the crab for me. I was in luck I had the crab steamed with garlic, scallions and ginger with on a bed of bean noodle ("fun see" phonetically Cantonese). They charge 3 dollars a pound as a cooking fee and 3 dollars extra for the bed of bean noodle. The crab was steamed to perfection, the shells were still filled with rich crab goo which I only know in Cantonese as "go". The bed of bean noodles soaked up the flavor and protein from the crab making a excellent filler. The taste of the crab meat was incredible, from ocean to pier to restaurant in a span of 2 hours might have something to do with its resounding sweetness. I also ordered the following dishes.
Black bean sauce clams: Huge dish with very juicy and succulent clams, one of the best in SF.
Supreme Broth Chicken with Vegetables: Standard steamed chicken dish, nothing spectacular.
Potato Greens with Shrimp paste: Soooooooooooooooooo good and cheap (I'm a poor starving student), the texture and sweetness is unlike anything I've ever tasted. I heard from my mother that they feed this to pigs in Asia... Well, I guess I am a pig...
Giant clam ("gwei fay pong") soup very fresh clam flavor however the starchy thick soup base distracted one from the clam flavor.
Also if your a clean freak you might have a hard time there, the washrooms are nothing to write home about.
All in all I had a wonderful time, the dishes above cost only $46 dollars and fed 5 people.
Best Panda Restaurant
4052 Balboa (at 41st Ave.)
San Francisco, CA