A Whole Load of CRABS

By Christina Kim - October 29, 2015

Crabs, one of the exotic yet deliciously sinful sea creatures/food around.


Unless you are allergic to seafood or just revolted by the sight of anything crawling sideways, most people just love a feast involving these crustaceans.
It sounds mean, just with that statement and I felt bad thinking or even writing that way, but I do like these too.
Shameless, I know.

These decapod crustaceans have made their ways to the meal tables and woks of gourmet and even humble home kitchens alike, making to the list of the menu of crafty chefs; inspiring their creativity in the wide variety of ways and servings to please the appetites of their audience.

From plain steamed or boiled on rocks, to stir frying, deep frying or spicing them up with fiery red chilies, there is just no end to the ways to make a good dish with these shell creatures.
(I would have probably heard Sebastian shaking his head vigorously in disapproval and giving me that look of disgust, at the mere mention of these words).

Crabs are loved all over the world; from the East to the West, Asia to America, Alaska, Australia, they are just everywhere, all parading their own ways of serving in their signature style.
From spicy chili crabs in Singapore to Kam Heong style in Malaysia, there is just endless ways to define the way to cook these crabs.
Everybody loves crabs; just the same way as Everybody loves Raymond, maybe even more for the crabs.

If there is one complaint about the crabs, it is the part where you would have to de-shell before feasting on them.
Yes, that tiresome task of removing the shells is not just everyone's favorite activity, even with the availability of the tools.
(There's always that little hammer and plier provided for one to crack the shell open or off)

Unfortunately, that's the way it is, and most of the time, the crabs are cooked as whole for many reasons; mainly to maintain its natural freshness and sometimes because the customers would like to see that the whole crab is being served (for what they are charged, they would like to see that they are actually paying for the whole crab) - though this is usually secondary.

That could be the reason which puts off many from attempting a meal of crabs, and that would be enough to subdue their appetites or lust for crabs.

What if you get to enjoy the freshness of the crabs, in generous servings, and with all the shells already removed for you?
Just pure crab meat served, and you can just consume them directly.

Sounds too good to be true?

It is really true.

I have had them once in Shanghai, many years ago, though it was at a hefty price but it was just pure heaven when I tasted them.

I mean, just not having to groan and go through the process of de-shelling before I eat, and yet enjoy the treat of the luscious crab meat, that is already a pure luxury.
I am spoilt, I know, and I just don't like getting my hands dirty.
They would smell like crabs (or crap) for the next few hours, seriously.

It was such a blissful treat that I was constantly looking forward to another meal like that.
Crab, without the shells.
All the work done ahead and I just need to eat.
Most of the time, they come with the price tag.
Well, fair enough, so that stopped me from dreaming, and I just gave up on that.

That is, until I was led to them again.

In Vietnam.

Where the best of both worlds meet.

Fresh crabs, de-shelled, served right to the table and at an affordable price.

It sounds just so good.

That's what the ladies at the Cha Gio - Mien Cua 94, in the District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City promised at their humble shack.


Do not expect a full blown luxury setting, to enjoy your crabs for this is a down-to-earth, decent and homey place promising that true local atmosphere.
It is finally time that I truly sat down and ate just like a local Vietnamese.
(I rarely do street food, and I was thrilled to find this place. Well, I was introduced to this place, bless the darling who brought me here).


Run by an elderly lady(she's the one in blue) with a team of young girls helping her around the place and the kitchen, this is a place serving purely crabs.
Maybe a little shrimps and oysters.
But mostly crabs.

The menu is kept simple, and like most of the local joints, they don't speak Vietnamese.
(Adds to the reason why it's not easy to dine at a local place around here).  

They didn't have to; for there are both Vietnamese and English for the names of their offered dishes printed on the menu.
Even with photos included.
Bless them, I'm just glad that I did not have to engage in any chicken and duck talk.
(Makes mental note to learn Vietnamese)

The lady owner (the elderly lady) is the most friendly of the lot; understandably so, since she owns the establishment.
She was quick to guide us on the way to enjoy our meal, the Vietnamese way.
She was often looking over her shoulder in our direction, just to make sure we were eating it the right way.
She was just that friendly, and helpful, though sometimes it was a little creepy, to be watched all the time under her eyes.
I felt like I was under scrutiny; as though I was in a military camp or something.
It was all for good intentions though, and I found it quite amusing.

It is not like the place was quiet, and without any other patron.
Far from it, the place was commanding continuous flow of customers; one coming in after another, especially during the peak hours after work and towards dinner time.
The locals head here for a quick meal after work, with dads or families stringing along their children for their dinner.
Then there is also surprisingly a fan base of Japanese tourists, or expats, as I was told and quickly observed on the spot.

They have really got their hands full, but the lady owner just seemed to be particularly interested in us.
She appeared to be judging if we were also part of the Japanese clan of customers, but her quick observation and eavesdropping on our conversation helped her to conclude we were from another part of the planet.
She was just focusing on our table most of the time, a little too much sometimes.
I know she means well.
It was all, a very homey and cosy ambiance created by her in the humble little shack.


I don't know much about the history or the story of this place, nor if they have other branches.
It doesn't matter.

The highlight is not on that.

The crabs are the stars here.

Like, this Fried Vermicelli with Crabs (Mien Cao Xua) - VND$150,000 (~MYR30)


It's really glass noodles, but the amount of crab meat they have piled on top of the noodles really blew me off.
I never expected such generosity.
I mean, if you have dined or ordered in other places, you would agree with me.

There's the mix of the crab roe tossed with the thick flakes of the crab meat, which I politely place at the side
(I don't like crab roe, I know most would say that's the best part though high in cholesterol. It's not really for health reasons, I just, don't like it. Period).

The crab meat flakes are to die for, juicy and moist with every bite, complemented well by the well stir-fried translucent glass noodles which are filled with the deserving skills from the wok tossing (also known as the Wok Hei in Chinese), before finishing with the finely chopped spring onions to garnish and that powdery pinch of black pepper.

It was a heavenly combination.
Everything was just good in this plate; not only the crab meat, though you will be amused with the abundance of crab meat until the very last bite as you polish off the plate.
It would be a sin not to finish every strand of the noodle or flake, or even that green bit of the spring onion from this.


Deep fried Crab claws

Huge fat juicy crab claws are the most prized parts of the crab.
Everyone wants to have one of them, and there's usually a limited number since the crab are not exactly spiders, and they don't have that many claws.

Here, we are presented with five crab claws, all peeled and deep fried with that light coating of flour to protect the flesh (from getting burnt, just kidding) as it fries to a golden brown as depicted to make up this dish.
Deep fried is not good, I know, but when you bite into the golden batter and this is what it reveals, you will forget about the disadvantages of deep frying.
Trust me.


The lady owner came over to remind us that we are to dip this into the chili sauce.
Yup, grandmama, we have chili sauce in our country too.
She's just so lovely :-)

I still can't forget the taste of these fresh juicy and succulent flesh of the crab claws.
22528139681_367b2e3ece_o_FotorMamma mia.

The last to arrive; though it was supposed to be first, is this plate of Deep fried Spring Rolls.
22491028036_cd751d99e9_o_Fotor Yes, they love to deep fry most of the stuffs here.

Deep fried Spring Rolls stuffed with Crab Meat
On the menu, it's only known as Vietnamese Spring Rolls or Cha Gio VND$120,000 (~MYR24)

There was already a plate of fresh vegetables and also a bowl of the usual fish sauce, along with rice vermicelli served right when we sat down.
(I've told you, there is never one meal complete without the usual green suspects over here in Vietnam. They take their greens very seriously. I am not kidding).


Grandmama, in reference to the lovely lady owner, wasted no time in coming over the second the plate of spring rolls land on our table.
She pointed at the vegetable, and the vermicelli, then at the fish sauce, in specific order.
She was instructing us, how to take the spring rolls.
The right way.

As though not satisfied, she then quickly took two small bowls and demonstrated right in front of us.
She just decided to show us in action, how to mix it all up to enjoy the spring rolls.

First, you put the vermicelli in the bowl.
Then you throw in some of the vegetables to your liking.
Put in one piece of the spring roll.
Drizzle the fish sauce along with the pickle on top of the combination.

22329052460_9ec06392e5_o_Fotor That's the way it's done.
That's how you should eat the Vietnamese Spring Rolls.


Now we know.
Thank you Grandmama.

I mean it, seriously, without her guidance, we wouldn't really know how to enjoy it the way the locals do.
She is really very helpful indeed and provided that insight to help me to understand the cuisine.
It helped me and I just wanted to share this with all of you too.
It really made all the difference.

Of course, it is still a matter of preference.
You can choose to enjoy your own way.
That was just more of a guidance, and I think that was what Grandmama wanted to do as well.
To share their local ways and shed some light on clueless tourists.
She helped. A lot.

It was not all deep fried here, as there were also steamed prawns and crabs.
Yes, they do have prawns too.
If you do not fancy noodles, they do golden fried rice, again, with both shrimps and fresh crab meat.

You don't walk into this establishment screaming crabs, by not ordering crabs.
It is pure injustice.

With all that food on the table, it makes perfect sense why Grandmama was so anxious we got it right , now, don't you see?
I am thankful for her guidance.
I felt like a pig, but well, for the crabs.
(We didn't finish everything, so we wrapped up and took away some of these to enjoy after another round of reheating. Still tastes good)

She took really good care of us, and even made sure we ordered drinks.
I was really happy to see that they have fresh coconuts here, and reasonably priced at VND$20,000 (~MYR4)


We could also get it cheaper outside on the roadside, I was told, at only VND$9,800 (~MYR2) but it was quite rare. Maybe I was looking in the wrong places?

It was in all, a wonderful meal filled with crabs, if not perfect.
It was just so memorable that I am very sure, that this will not be my only visit to this place.
Hey, I spent so many years hunting for a place that serves crab meat served directly to my table (and almost to my mouth) without me having to lift a finger to do the dirty work, you think I would just let it go?
Not a chance.

Besides, Grandmama was just a lovely host that it is impossible to resist her charms.

If you are wondering, and I am sure you are wondering.
This is the place.


94 Đinh Tiên Hoàng, P. Đa Kao, Quận 1, TP. HCM 

I'm not sure how you get there, but we are now blessed with the beauty of technology.
I am sure you will find your way there, with the help of Google Maps, Waze or any other routing application.
If all else fails, just follow the crabs.

The live crabs, all tied up on the trays outside the shop.
Poor crabs, waiting for their turns, for death.
I try not to think about it too much, but I do say my prayers for them.
I am sorry, crabs.

This is a place, or rather, heaven for seafood or particularly, crab lovers.
No crap at all; only all crabs.

I can hear grunts from Sebastian.
This is a place that Sebastian would highly disapprove.
Life under the sea is always better, as Sebastian says.
Up in the human world, they are always in a worse fate.
They never know who goes on the plate next.


Sebastian is one of the characters from the Little Mermaid.
If you don't know him, you've probably lived under a rock all these years.

I am sorry Sebastian.
I'm sure you were not on that plate.
I made sure.

To those who are unable to take crabs due to religious beliefs, I would like to apologize should this post offend you.

*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal expenses, opinions and preferences and do not represent the general public. 
Experiences vary from one individual to another.
You do not have to agree with me.

This is based on my personal experience and is told in a subjective manner, entirely from my perspective.

Photos all belong to me and are copyrighted.

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