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The Kickin’ Crab is Cajun seafood with an Asian kick in Orange County and beyond

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The Kickin' Crab

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Jan Nguyen and her family immigrated to the USA from Vietnam back in the 1970s with the little that they could carry. Her family landed in Louisiana where she worked in restaurants where she quickly learned the Cajun style of cooking. Incorporating what was available in the bayou from crawfish to shrimp, she was introduced to a range of spices and flavor profiles quite different from her native Vietnamese cuisine. In her years in the restaurant business, she began tasting foods and then recreating them at home with her own twist. Her dream of having a restaurant serving Cajun seafood for families in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, became a reality with the 2010 opening of The Kickin’ Crab located in Santa Ana, CA. In less than 4 years, The Kickin’ Crab has grown to 7 locations in Orange County, Los Angeles County, and Santa Clara County with 2 locations opening soon.

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Fried Oysters are lightly breaded, fried to a golden brown, and served with cocktail sauce. These oysters are gigantic! They are so big that you will need to bite into them. They are way too big to just pop in your mouth. As you bite into them, they are sweet and juicy, unlike any fried oyster I’ve ever had. I’m a raw bar gal when it comes to oysters, but these were just fantastic. I love the light breading as it did not smother the sweetness of the oyster. The cocktail sauce has a nice horseradish kick that pairs well with the oyster. Thumbs up, way up!

Cajun Edamame is boiled edamame that is tossed in the Cajun seasoning. It’s a little messy, but that’s why we are here. No shame in getting your fingers saucy! The edamame is cooked to perfection, bright with that one of kind taste that edamame has. The Cajun seasoning has a kick and works well with the edamame. I ended up sucking the flavor off the pods and my fingers. The sauce is so addictive! Thumbs up, way up!

Garlic Noodles is an ingenious blend of linguini tossed in Kickin’ Crab’s own garlic butter sauce. It’s a combination of Italian and Asian flavors and it works! Wind it around the seafood of your choice for an orgasmic flavor profile. The garlic sauce on the noodles and the seasoning from the seafood will have you dancing in your chair. Thumbs up, way up!

The seafood menu can be daunting at first so try the Kickin’ Combo Deal #1. You can mix and match any 3 – choose from clam, shrimp, crawfish, and/or mussels for a total of 3 pounds of seafood and includes 2 corns, 2 potatoes, and 4 pieces of sausage. You also get your choice of seasoning: Lemon Pepper, Cajun, Louisiana, Garlic Butter or Kickin’ Style (all of the above) and then your choice of heat level: Extra Mild, Mild, Medium, Spicy, or Spicy Spicy. We opted for the crawfish, mussels, and shrimp in Kickin’ Style with medium heat. Hoo Doggies! We could have gone a little spicier at the restaurant, but glad we didn’t as the leftovers went to another level at home. The spice level will increase as the seafood marinates in the sauce so keep that in mind if you plan on having leftovers the next day. Even with the spicy heat level, the flavors of the garlic butter and lemon pepper still peer through for a great finish. All of the seafood is cooked to perfection with juicy pulled tails and succulent sucked heads for the crawfish and shrimp and sweet mussels. Thumbs up, way up!

You can also order your favorite seafood by the pound. We ordered just Crawfish in Garlic Butter with mild heat. When the 3 pound bag came to the table, my mom and I were aghast. We polished it off Hawaiian-style with no leftovers. We probably could have done another pound but someone would have had to roll us to the car. Once you get started, the sauce and the taste of the crawfish are so addictive. You can’t stop! Thumbs up, way up!

Pan Roast is Kickin’ Crab’s version of etouffe. Shrimp, scallops, and clams are bathing in a light roux étouffée which is rich and creamy. The seafood is cooked to perfection and the sweetness works well with the sauce. You don’t want to waste the sauce so mix it up with the rice and dig in! Thumbs up, way up!

Coconut Sea Snails are served with a coconut curry sauce reminiscent of Thai curry. The coconut flavor hits you immediately and makes the sauce luxurious. The snail shell tips are snipped so you just suck the snail right out. For all of my Ohana, it’s like eating tsubu but you don’t need a toothpick. The snail is very bland and takes on any profile you throw its way. I bet it would be good with the garlic butter sauce! Thumbs up!

If you’re looking for great seafood and fun with the family and friends, The Kickin’ Crab should be your next stop! It’s like having your own back yard crawfish boil without all the work.

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Décor: 4 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars

For more information:
The Kickin’ Crab
3611 S Bristol St Ste C (north of South Coast Plaza)
Santa Ana, CA 92704
714.754.8888

  • Hours: Monday through Friday from 3pm to 10pm, Saturday & Sunday from 12pm to 10pm

2740 Alton Pkwy (in the Diamond Jamboree Plaza)
Irvine, CA 92606
949.851.8889

  • Hours: Monday through Thursday from 11:30am to 10pm, Friday from 11:30am to 11pm, Saturday from 12pm to 11pm, Sunday from 12pm to 10pm

To find a location near you, click here

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