Disclosure Notice: I Was provided with one complimentary dining pass for the purposes of reviewing the package, courtesy of VANEATS.ca. All opinions stated within are my own.
Vancouver has an impressive dining scene, no question about it, but finding any kind of southern US food is a challenge. So it’s great to see that Kev and Bill at VANEATS have chosen to feature Cray and their Louisiana Crawfish in a package.
The Cray-vings package comes with:
- 1/2 lb of Crawfish, shipped live from Louisiana
- 1/2 lb of Shrimp, from Thailand and Equador
- Cod Nuggets (3)
- Deep Fried Oysters spiced in a Louisiana cajun fry batter (2)
- Cajun Fries, cajun spice peppered.
It’s a great opportunity for Vancouverites to try out a unique dining experience and at $18.50, it’s some serious value.
I was reunited with my usual VANEATS.ca partner, Sean from Sean’s Adventures in Flavortown, for this package and we headed to the Mount Pleasant area early in the evening so we’d catch some good light for photos. We were greeted by very friendly staff and our table was already ready for us – covered with a big sheet of paper and our bucket of supplies – a roll of paper towel, bibs, gloves, and a card on how to eat crawfish
We ordered drinks first (not included in the package) and then our waitress explained how the crawfish and shrimp (also known as seafood boil) would be served. We had a choice of 4 seasonings: Juicy Cajun, Garlic Butter, Lemon Pepper, and Cray Mix, which includes all of the above. Then you choose how much heat you want your seasoning to have, ranging from mild all the way to XXX (the menu says if you order XXX you do so at your own risk and there’s no refunds!).
You can also add extras to your seafood boil like corn, potatoes and andouille sausage (these are not included in the package but you can choose to add them to your boil for a minimal extra charge). We both went with the Cray Mix and mild to medium spice. Sean chose to add potatoes and sausage to his but I stuck with just crawfish and shrimp and ordered a cup of gumbo instead.
First to arrive were our baskets of Cod Nuggets, Deep Fried Oysters and Cajun fries. They were served with the usual ketchup and tartar sauce but also a spicy cajun mayo dip that turned out to be my favourite. I dipped everything in it!
The nuggets were delicious. They were not your usual beer batter fried nuggets. The coating was very thin and crunchy and the filling was big chunks of tender cod. These were all about the fish. The cajun fries were crispy and very spicy. I loved them but definitely had to slow down my eating to give my tastebuds some recovery time. They reminded me of cinnamon heart candy… so spicy but you just can’t stop eating them because they’re so good!
The oysters, however, were massive. Sean can’t eat oysters but I love them so he offered to let me have his but in all honesty, they were so big that I couldn’t! This was my first time having them deep fried. They were so tasty with a little heat from the seasoning. They were very juicy (you can see some of the juice running down the left side of the fork) so be warned when you first bite into one. You might get a little pop! The staff told us these particular oysters were Beach Oysters from California.
But now, now it was time to get serious and don our bibs and gloves for the main attraction… our seafood boil!
When I was checking out the restaurant on line before we headed out, I noticed a few people complaining that this was messy. Ok, so here’s the scoop… eating seafood boil IS messy. You get a bib and gloves for a reason! That’s half the fun! So if that’s not your deal, this is not the place for you. But you really should give it a try if you’ve never experienced it. It really is a lot of fun.
Our challenge was making sure we got all the photos we needed before we started eating because once we picked up that first crawfish there was no way we were going to be touching our DSLRS with fingers dripping in butter and garlic! Too bad though because we had some fun holding the little suckers up and waving their claws around!
The boil arrives in a double plastic bag which serves as your plate. You discard all your shells in that handy beer bucket that held all the bibs and gloves when you arrived.
This was my first experience with crawfish. They come in quite a variety of sizes, which is normal and why it’s served by weight. The meat is all in the tail and it took me a couple of tries to get the hang of cracking them and getting the meat out. But it was really tasty, as was the shrimp. The seasoning was delicious – I highly recommend getting the Cray Mix – and it was loaded with garlic. I also really recommend getting some of the add-ons, especially the potatoes. Sean gave me one of his and it was great to sop up all that extra seasoning juice that I didn’t want to go to waste! The other nice thing about this whole package is, it really forces you to slow down and enjoy the whole experience. You can’t rush when you have to crack and peel all that shellfish!
Overall, at $18.50 I thought this package was a great value. I think it’s a perfect amount of food for one person for dinner and given the amount of seafood that was in it, it’s extremely well priced. Plus, it was a really fun and different dining experience than you usually see in Vancouver. The staff were very friendly and enthusiastic and were excited to share all the ins and outs of this kind of cuisine. And, even though we arrived quite early, by the time we left the dining area was hopping and everyone looked like they were having a great time!
To see some of the food prep and learn more check out Kev and Bill’s video with Cray:
You can purchase the package from the VANEATS.ca website between September 9th and December 6th but they’re only available until they sell out (and I have a feeling this one will sell out quickly). Check out VANEATS on twitter @VANEATSca and Facebook for updates!