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Cheap Eats

Rockin’ Crawfish ~ Westminster

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9211 Bolsa Avenue ~Westminster, CA 92684 ~ (714) 894-4536 (TACO Guide)

I lived in New Orleans for a while and, loving all things shellfish, found myself jonesing for a crawfish fix. I went on the web to do a little investigating, and I found that there was actually more than one place in Westminster's Little Saigon to encounter crawfish boiled up, cajun style.

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So, I went there with my dining partner, Lady Kvisto, to initiate her into the ways of the craw. There were some quite auspicious signs from the beginning. We were ushered to a wall-adjacent table below and aside a vintage beer can collection, our particular table being next to a empty container from the now defunct "New Orleans Original" JAX Beer Company. Then, I find out crawfish is running $7 a pound (I think back in NOLA they charged more like $3-4), but being happy hour, we were offered 'buy two pounds, get one free!' They typically offer blue crab or dungeness crab at a few bucks more per pound, but on the downside they were out that day. Also, I would have loved to wash the spicy mudbugs down with cold beer, but our waitress told us they were still waiting on their liquor licence and it would be another month.

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They have three flavors of crawfish: Garlic Butter, Lemon Pepper, and a Rockin' Combo. Each flavor has three different heat steps: mild, spicy, and super spicy. They told us that they used to get complaints that it wasn't spicy enough, and that they consequently kicked their flavors up a notch, so she advised us not to go any spicier than "spicy". That turned out to be very good advice. We ordered one pound in each flavor and each spice level.

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They offer some sides as well, including corn on the cob, cross-cut french fries (also in three levels of spicy), and sausage. The corn is a must, for several cobs are typically thrown into a batch of boiling crawfish, and is therefore a traditional companion to the starring crustacean. I figured I'd try the sausage and french fries as well.

Within ten minutes, our first bag of crawfish arrived. Hmmm...this was different. These bags were piping hot and -- wait, isn't hot plastic supposed to leach out endocrine disruptors and other crazy chemicals into your food? Ok, it's not like I eat here all the time, right? I look around and realize that everything on the table, from the paper tablecloth on up, is disposable and going to be tossed after we leave; easy on the clean-up, hard on the environment. After stewing in self-induced eco-guilt during the few minutes these crawfish required to cool off enough to handle, I started eating.

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It was hard not to make comparisons to the boiled crawfish I'd had in New Orleans. Down there, they didn't have all the flavor and spice level options; they just boiled the crawfish, corn on the cobs, and sometimes potatoes in a huge pot of water flavored heavily with crawfish boil, a crazy mix of different flavors consisting of spices like cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, allspice, dill seeds, cloves, bay leaves, and probably a few "secret ingredients" closely guarded by the chef. After boiling the crawfish for a while, the kitchen staff would just fish out the crawfish and the corn, weigh it into a basket and go on to cook another batch.

My guess is that Rockin' Crawfish had to take a different approach to address the varying needs of the OC consumer. I think that the crawfish were still cooked together, but the flavorings were added later. Also, the flavoring sauces here are oil based; my dining companion suggested that this might help the flavors stick to the crawfish since they are applied post-boiling; also, I found the added fat content resulted in my feeling much more full after two pound of crawfish than I might be otherwise. The garlic butter sauce and the "rockin' combo" were WAY garlicky, with a multitude of small chunks of garlic that lent a sweetness to the hot sauce. I prefer my corn a little undercooked and my sausages a little more firm and textured, but we can report the cross-cut fries are AWESOME!! They are perfect for mopping up the spicy grease flavorings that puddled under the crawfish corpses.

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OK, yeah, this food is a little bit gross and messy, but that is part of the beauty of it: you become one with the eating process, because it is about literally becoming one with the food. The food becomes you. We saw this one sissy in there wearing latex gloves while he was eating his crawfish! What a tool! We wanted to take his picture to post and shame him in front of the whole blogosphere, but we thought better of it. We heard somewhere that latex tastes bad in your mouth, but then, that might just be the lubricant or spermicide with which said products are often coated. One word to the wise: wear dark colors, don't wear white, and definitely take advantage of the bibs the waitress offers.

We also recommend taking advantage of the bakery and Asian supermarket in the complex after your meal. You might end up craving something sweet after your mass consumption of crawfish flesh. Or, you just might enjoy cruising around the Asian supermarket checking out all of the crazy stuff they have for sale, like the "vegetarian lobster" or "vegetarian roast baby pig" we found in the freezer section.

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All in all, Rockin' Crawfish is a big recommend for us. We just wish it was a little closer to home. If you find and/or try any other boiled crawfish establishments, be sure to let us know what you think. Until then, Rockin' Crawfish is likely to remain the go to place for when we need our crawfish fix.

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