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road trip, night four: best and biggest crab in Irvine

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road trip, night four: best and biggest crab in Irvine

moto | Jan 4, 2006 03:49 AM

WE had a lovely and loving late homecooked brunch on 12/25, enjoyed socializing with my O.C. in-laws through the afternoon, and still inspired by L.A.area 'hounds, revived our tradition of a holiday Chinese supper. In many smaller towns and cities, Chinese joints are standbys when everyone else closes;your great metropolis has more choices but habits are comforting. S&W Seafood and BBQ was packed and bustling, and our 25 min. wait was well spent browsing in the Ranch 99 market. Our previous two attempts for scallion and ginger crab this dungeness season in Oakland and S.F. chinatowns were less than fulfilling so we tried again. For conturni we ordered gai lan with two kinds of cured pork, lop cheong and pork belly, and another simpler green, choy sum with garlic. Our table was directly in front of the lobster tank which had numerous lively denizens, several bruisers in the 5-8 lb. range, including one who just had to stand front, center,and top of the heap, brandishing his banded claws. The several we saw being served, legs pointed upwards like a crown, were equally impressive.Our food came with remarkable alacrity. The heaping platter of gai lan with pork cured two ways was worthy of being a main course, with both the lop cheong, lean, and the "bacon", lean-ish, the way I prefer them, along with bits of ginger richly infusing the light sauce. The arthopod from our coast far exceeded expectations, well in excess of 2 lbs, with large chunks of crisped tomalley revealed when I flipped the carapace and started in, spoiled as I usually am by "virtue" of being the only fresser at the trough with a taste for this delicacy. Freshness and preparation could not have been better; we have never seen, in numerous renditions of this dish, such a profusion of sliced ginger and it made a critical difference in flavour as its sweetness penetrated beyond the shell surface to harmonize with the flesh. The scallions draped all over contributed a festive green; cooked to tenderness, they were a perfect condiment. The choy sum, both crunchy and tender , played its part to recharge our palates. The huge crab was more than sufficient for two, meaning just right. There was gai lan w."sausage&bacon" left for another meal, and choy sum I will use in my next batch of turkey carcass jook. Thanks to you great So.Cal 'hounds, we found top notch Chinese in O.C.! Cheers, salud and good eatin' in '06.

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