Restaurants & Bars


So, I went to Cantoon Garden...


Live your best food life.

Sign up to discover your next favorite restaurant, recipe, or cookbook in the largest community of knowledgeable food enthusiasts.
Sign Up For Free
Restaurants & Bars 2

So, I went to Cantoon Garden...

big o | May 21, 2005 04:07 PM

Recent word has been that Cantoon Garden's salt(ed) baked soft shell crab preparation is superior to Great New York Noodletown's. I stopped by yesterday around 4-ish for a late lunch, intent on seeing whether I would agree.

Man, it ain't even close.

The crab was served cut into large pieces, with a notably darker complexion than that of the Noodeltown crawlers. Upon ripping off my first leg, it was apparent that they were also both more greasy and less crunchy. I don't mind grease, given the right dish, but the loss of crispness (comparatively speaking) was a big disappointment. Both of these also resulted in a meal that sat more heavily.

The crab coating at Cantoon Garden is less salty than Noodletown's, and sports more of a garlicky edge. The flavor was fine (overall, I still enjoyed my meal), but it wasn't anything special. Had it been my first-ever "salt baked" experience, I wouldn't have bothered remembering the term. After trying my first plate of salt-baked squid at Noodletown years ago (which was my introduction to the cooking technique), I was struck by how different and amazing it was. Cantoon Garden's attempt offered up no flavors that I haven't been tasting at Chinese restaurants for the better part of my life.

The flavor of the crab itself was nice at Cantoon, though more subdued, likely a result of the heavier coating. Even though the flavoring is bolder at Noodletown -- owing in no small part to the kick of saltiness -- that fresh, ocean-y flavor jumps forward. It's such a sweet balance that they've achieved.

Personal tastes will be what they are, and I don't doubt that the crabs at Cantoon Garden will ring as more appealing to some. But I can't see myself ever choosing to get my fix there again knowing that Noodletown is standing just around the corner.

Want to stay up to date with this post?

Recommended From Chowhound