Review: O Crab, Chatswood

Everyone who knows me know that I’m a big fan of seafood. There have been times when my father will order a whole mud crab at a Chinese restaurant for our family, and I’ll end up eating 90% of it because I’m the only one who’s really fanatic about seafood and everyone else can either take it or leave it.

Having driven past an almost-hidden sign for O Crab in Chatswood one weekend, I suggested to K that we visit with a few friends later that same week. Somehow, a larger group dinner turned into a romantic date night for two and K and I ended up going to O Crab alone…oh well, more crab left for me!

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Given that it was a Tuesday night, the restaurant was very quiet with only half the tables full. We had made a reservation just in case, and was amused to see that our names had been scrawled onto the butcher’s paper covering our table for two. We started with some complimentary chips and salsa brought out by the waitress. The salsa was very tasty but very hard to grab with the crunchy corn chips!

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We simply glanced over the menu (I’d done my research online that day!) and quickly put in our order, so that we could get our food just that little bit quicker! As soon as we’d put in our order the waitress asked us one very important question – did we want to go au naturel, or be provided with gloves and a plastic apron for the messy job of eating crab?

I was tempted to go in with bare hands for authenticity’s sake, but recognising that smelling like crab for the next 48 hours would win me no friends at work, I regretfully opted for the gloves and apron. At least you get a little hammer to break open your crab!

Sixpoint resin beer ($11) and Coke Zero ($5)
Sixpoint resin beer ($11) and Coke Zero ($5)

But first, the drinks! I just had a simple Coke Zero, but K ordered one of the specialty beers that O Crab offers. They brand themselves as a boutique beer destination, offering hard-to-find craft beers from local and international small breweries. Note though, that some beers that may be listed may not actually be available on the night that you go. K’s first two beer choices had sold out, and he had to go for his Plan C – Sixpoint Resin beer from Brooklyn in the United States. Apparently it’s quite heavy on the palate, so perhaps not one to choose if you want a more drinkable light beer.

Tempura Calamari seasoned with old bay with chilli mayo ($12)
Tempura Calamari seasoned with old bay with chilli mayo ($12)

There’s a few different entrees available, but we chose the tempura calamari. Though it comes with a dipping sauce of chilli mayo on the side, you almost don’t need that extra burst of flavour. The tempura batter is liberally seasoned with O Crab’s house ‘old bay’ seasoning, which is deliciously reminiscent of old-style salt and pepper seasoning. The calamari itself is perfectly cooked as well, without the chewy texture that characterises over-cooked squid.

O Crab Roll - creamy O Crab Salad on a bed of lettuce in a fresh bread roll ($12)
O Crab Roll – creamy O Crab Salad on a bed of lettuce in a fresh bread roll ($12)

My next choice was the O Crab Roll – and I managed to convince myself that this was our salad course as it was advertised as O Crab’s House Salad in a bread roll. I mean, who cares if their house salad doesn’t have quite as many greens as one would expect with a salad, just take it at face value. A creamy, retro style salad with chunks of sweet pineapple, sprinkled with a few chunks of crab…it’s pretty delicious, and all on a crunchy crispy Vietnamese-style banh mi roll.

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We ordered two serves of seafood in different sauces, and they both come out to the table in big steaming plastic bags. This is where the plastic gloves and apron comes in handy!

Snow crab cluster ($29) with Cajun seasoning
Snow crab cluster ($29) with Cajun seasoning

O Crab offers four different types of crab, and we choose the Snow Crab Cluster with Cajun seasoning. Other options include blue swimmer crabs, king crab legs, or mud crabs with a variety of other seasonings – Original Old Bay, garlic butter, Justin’s special chilli or steamed natural. This Cajun seasoning was absolutely out of this world delicious – equal parts smoky and spicy, though the only pity is that the seasoning doesn’t really permeate through to the crab meat. You find yourself sucking the spice mix off the hard crab shell, before smashing the shell with your hammer to get through to the plainer crab meat inside.

300gm prawns ($18) with garlic butter
300gm prawns ($18) with garlic butter

That wasn’t an issue with our second order though – large prawns cooked in rich and fragrant garlic butter. You could smell this garlic butter from a mile away, and it had most definitely done its job in soaking through to the prawn meat. My only regret is not upgrading to 500gms of prawns instead of 300gms – it only costs an additional $7, and we would have gotten more than four or five prawns each.

Jason's ultimate brownie with vanilla ice-cream and drenched in butterscotch ($12)
Jason’s ultimate brownie with vanilla ice-cream and drenched in butterscotch ($12)

At this point we were feeling quite comfortable – not full to bursting, but comfortably full. We toyed with the idea of ordering another entree to help fill up a little bit, but then opted to order two desserts instead rather than sharing a single dessert the way we normally do. K chose Jason’s ultimate brownie, which proved to be very dense almost like a gluten-free brownie. The butterscotch sauce drizzled over the top was probably the highlight here.

PB & J Waffles topped with strawberry jam and crunchy peanut butter vanilla icecream ($12)
PB & J Waffles topped with strawberry jam and crunchy peanut butter vanilla icecream ($12)

But ladies and gentlemen, this was the dish of the evening. PB & J Waffles topped with jam and peanut butter ice-cream – you cannot top this dish. The waffles were so crispy on the outside, but still doughy on the inside. The melted jam syrup combined with the crunchy parts of the creamy ice-cream were extremely on point. Basically everything that’s awesome in a peanut butter and jam sandwich is heightened when you translate those same flavours to a waffle. My night was made.

There were a few dishes on the menu that unfortunately we just couldn’t fit in. I’m really keen to go back to O Crab and try dishes like the seafood chowder which is served in a bread bowl, or even the OCrabby Patty Burger which sounds suspiciously like the iconic burger place in the TV show Spongebob Squarepants. We’ll definitely be back!

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