March 13, 2011 | | Comments 23

How To Buy Alaskan King Crab

Suanne and I are trying to learn about buying Alaskan King Crab. Seriously, we are not expert in Alaskan King Crab at all. We just want to write this post not that we can share with you what we learned over the past couple of weeks but hoping that some of you who have the experience chime in here.

So the past two weekends, we went around the few places we knew of in Richmond that carries live Alaskan King Crab (AKC). We wanted to find out the prices and compare them. We went on two consecutive weekends because we wanted to see how the prices fluctuates.

PRICES OF ALASKAN KING CRAB

In the off season period, these crabs could cost over $30.00 per pound and each of these crabs weighs anywhere from 5 lbs for an extremely small one to as big as 15 lbs. I remember someone saying that they had a 17 lb crab before! So you can imagine how expensive it could be during the off season … a sad looking 5 lb crab will cost you $150.

However, during the AKC season which runs from late February to mid to late March, the prices drops to something more affordable. It will go below $15 per pound and in some places it could even go as low as … $10. While it is still not cheap, it is definitely a bit more affordable.

WHERE TO BUY ALASKAN KING CRAB IN RICHMOND

These are the few places that we went to:

  • City Fresh on No 3 Road and Ackroyd
  • T&T Supermarket in President Plaze on Cambie and No 3 Road
  • Great One Supermarket in Park Village on Park Road and No 3 Road
  • Topker Seafood in Parker Place on No 3 Road
  • Ocean Empires Seafood in the Richmond Publuc Market
  • New Chiu Yeung Fresh Seafood on Westminster Hwy

Of all the places that people are most familiar with, it seems that it is the T&T Supermarket.

They have clean displays and the tanks were clean and clear. So you could see the impressive big crabs in the tanks lining around the fresh seafood section.

I think T&T is most popular particularly with the uninitiated because it has the best service and it is non-intimidating. Their prices are competitive and their service is very good.

All of the places we went to will clean and dress the crabs for you for free. It will take about 10 minutes or so. While you can get the whole crab live and then slaughter it at home to ensure freshness, it is better that you let them do that for you.

However, the Alaskan King Crab is one that you want to buy just within a few hours of cooking. Freshness is what it is all about.

WEIGHT OF ALASKAN KING CRAB

Our first stop was at T&T. When we were there we saw a couple were perhaps buying an Alaskan King Crab for the first time. Not knowing what to get, they asked for a crab sufficient for three person. The T&T guy fished out a 5 lb crab for them saying that it should be enough for them.

So Suanne and I was looking at one another; we thought that 5lb is way too small. It was the crab that you see above. That small crab came to $70+. We were itching to interject by telling the couple it is too small and not worth the while.

You see, we need to get at least a 8 pounder to make it worthwhile. The smaller the crab is, the higher is the shell to meat ratio. The major part of the crab is the legs and if it is too small and skinny, there is hardly meat in there. So you should aim for 8lbs and above. That is like the magical weigh.

T&T offers ONE single price regardless of the size while most other places will offer two prices … one for 8lbs and less … and another for 8lbs and more.

But frankly after seeing a few place, we were not quite impressed with T&T’s selection. Their crabs were mostly small.

CHEAP  ALASKAN KING CRAB

We headed to the Topker Seafood in Parker Place next. We were intrigued with this place because DragonFire was telling us that they had really cheap Alaskan King Crab.

DragonFire was telling us that they sold him an 11 lb Alaskan King Crab for a type that is categorized as “jau lay say” which means “about to die”! Yeah, DragonFire got a bit of flak from chowtimes readers for that suggestion. LOL!

Well, he also told us that he also got another category of cheap ones called “bai geok” which means “crippled” in English. It is also $80 but these type of crabs have 1 or 2 legs missing.

So Suanne and I went to the Topker to check it out. Inside we saw a LOT of tanks of Alaskan King Crab. They carry the most crabs that we had come across. While there we bumped into Roger, the owner of Delicious Cuisine and Tri-Pot. He was there to pick up fresh clams for the day. Oh so, this is where he gets his famous clams soup which was popular in Delicious Cuisine.

So we went into Topker, snooped around and took pictures of the crabs. We counted about 7 huge tanks full of Alaskan King Crabs. There were very big ones and certainly was the most lively we had ever seen. Some of the crabs were so big that their legs were trying to get out of the tank. So it does seems to us that this place is one of the better suppliers.

After a couple of minutes we walked out and stood outside while Suanne took notes of the prices and observation. Then the lady who worked in Topker came out and asked us … “lei hai mm hai gei jeh ah?” which means “are you journalists?”. She was asking us why we are taking pictures and taking notes.

So we took the opportunity to ask her if she has the “about to die” type of crabs. She refused to answer me. LOL! She said I better go in and ask the boss ourselves.

We walked in and I repeated my question about the “jau ley say” type of crabs. I could see he was nervous. He must be thinking that we were there doing an expose of his “jau lay say” crabs in the Chinese media. LOL! He said there are no such thing and if I find any to let him know. He did not look at me in the eye when he said that. We let it be and left.

Apparently, you can still get the “about to die” or “crippled” Alaskan King Crab early in the morning when the new shipment arrives and they want to clear the tank for fresh ones. Just don’t be like us and ask for “about to die” or “crippled” ones. Ask for it nicely … just ask for crabs with “special pricing”. :-)

I think he is just worried about the negative aspect of the less than perfect crabs. But his crabs were mostly huge and very lively. A sheer delight to watch. If we were to buy our crabs, this is the place we would buy it from.

SELECTING A GOOD ALASKAN KING CRAB

It must be lively. Sometimes they might seem to be not moving in which case see if they are in a semi frozen state.

Look at the eyes. Flip it and it will dart around vigorously. It shows that it is alert and very much alive.

The good ones stands on their feet with their body lifted from the bottom.

The above is of a Spider Crab molting but I guess it is the same for the Alaskan King Crab.

I was told also that the shell must never be soft because this means that they had just changed their shell.

The above are the crabs from City Fresh. One thing we do not know is why some of the colors are different. These ones are pale yellow orangey in color while the ones elsewhere is more reddish. At other places, it is pinkish. These ones does not look appetizing. Perhaps there are different species of AKC?

PRICE COMPARISON

We also went to Costco because we remember that Costco sells frozen legs only Alaskan King Crab. We remember that those AKC legs in Costco were huge. We thought it would be good to compare the frozen ones to the live one. Too bad that they do not carry Alaskan King Crab legs when we were there last week. Does anyone remember how much they were?


Here is the price comparison:

Location Price on
05-Mar-2011
Price on
12-Mar-2011
Price on
19-Mar-2011
Topker Seafood,
Parker Place
Small – $11.99
Large – $13.99
Small – $11.99
Large – $13.99
TBC
T&T Supermarket,
President Plaza
Single price – $12.88 Single Price – $10.99 TBC
Great One,
Park Village
Small – $12.99
Large – $14.99
Small – $10.99
Large – $12.99
TBC
City Fresh,
Ackroyd Road
Single price – $14.99 Small – $10.88
Large – $12.99
TBC
Ocean Empires,
Richmond Public Mkt
Single price – $14.99 Single price – $12.99 TBC

I will update next week’s prices but for now you can see that the prices are going down already. Some places are selling single prices regardless of the sizes.

So like in T&T, while the price is low, make sure you don’t get too small a crab. It is just not worth the while spending so much money and get so little meat. If T&T have 8 lbs and above and at $10.99, go for it.

Otherwise, it is best to get a bigger crab and share it with more people. Of all these places in Richmond, I think checking out Topker in Parker Place is worthwhile despite that it is $13.99 per lb … they have a huge selection and it is just delightful to see the Alaskan King Crab clawing all over the place.

Anyway, the above are what I learned the past two weeks and been gathering these info from friends. I can’t vouch for the accuracy and am relying on chowtimes readers to chime in. Collectively we can share info to help each other on how to buy Alaskan King Crab better.

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  1. Went to Fisherman’s Terrace on Saturday and got Alaskan King Crab. They were also charging about 14-15 bucks per pound and we got an 8 pounder to share among 4 people. Tempted to buy king crab and try cooking one at home, but it seems like it’s pretty much the same price per pound — so I think I’ll just let the restaurant cook it for me. :P Plus, it’s been quite hectic lately that we’ve no time to cook.

    • Ben says:

      Hi JS: Been busy huh? But good to know that you’re not too busy to eat well. LOL! Wow … 8 pounder for 4 people is a lot of crab. On Saturday we had 39 lbs for 30 people and tonight we had 10lbs for 10 people. Still it was quite a bit of crab to eat. Ben

      • Where did you go tonight?

        I figure I better have my fill of king crab since it’s going to be another year before I have some again. :) The king crab was all we had though (cooked 2 ways plus the rice dish). Everybody had their fill and was quite satisfied with the meal. :)

        Yeah, it’s been quite hectic here. . .it will be better after March. Ah, time to retire. Have to wake up early tomorrow.

        • Ben says:

          Tonight, Golden Great Wall hosted a AKC dinner for us. They have an interesting was of making it … with herb consommé sauce, and another way with French vinegar (I think). Yesterday, it was at Sun Sui Wah. Yeah, this is the best time to have our fill of AKC before it gets too pricey. Hehehe … time to retire? LOL! You still have decades of working life ahead of you. Take it easy, JS. Ben

    • karl says:

      I love Alsk king crabs ,sombody knows how buy and send same to Argentina .Does exist an international delivery . I apreciate if somebody knows about it. Thank You very much.

  2. Kevin says:

    That video was so. damn. cool!

    • Ben says:

      Hmmm … come to think of it, re-looking at the video, it seems like the colors of the crab is perhaps related to the maturity and “stage of molting” it is at. I see that the color of the older shell is pale compared to the new. Ben

  3. Chris says:

    Prices are so much better in Vanc than here in Tor. However, had a great meal at Da Fu with a 7lb AKC that cost only $19.99 per pound. The waiter could not believe that was the price. There were 7 of us and we had it 3 diff. ways…plenty to eat!! I would not want to cook at home…too much work and mess!

  4. joyluckclub says:

    Thanks Ben and Suanne for the informative post…..no need to do the scouting around for our next crab!
    You seemed to have covered all the points to choosing a crab….
    just once, I would like to mark the crab that is showed to us in a restaurant (with a permanent marker or something) to see if this “show” crab is really the one we get served :-)

    I’ve just posted my version of AKC steamed with egg custard, if anyone wants to give it a whirl while AKC is affordable.

  5. Stephanie says:

    If you’re looking for more price comparisons and AKC, there’s a seafood market at Fraser St. and Kingsway in Vancouver called Yat Ming Seafood Market. I went there a couple weeks ago and saw that though the shop inside was small, there were quite a lot of tanks full of AKC from small to large.

  6. joyluckclub says:

    hey Ben!
    Did you scout out prices this weekend.
    We are planning on cooking AKC today….just wondering what your findings were?

    Thanks!

    • Ben says:

      Hi JoyLC: No, we went to the states yesterday but since you asked we went scouting this morning after breakfast and grocery shopping. Wait one … will make a post right after this. Ben

  7. joyluckclub says:

    wow…this is excellent….live blogging! Thanks for checking on AKC prices maybe you could turn into a delivery service too :-)

    Sounds like you are having a great day kicking around….loving your play by play, so innovative!

    • Ben says:

      Delivery service? Checked!

      You know, just remember this term “delivery service” on chowtimes. Your jaws is gonna drop with another experiment that Suanne and I will do in the next few weeks. More people are just gonna hate chowtimes for doing fun stuff like this. LOL!

  8. KingCrabber says:

    I am one of the Fishermen that supply the crab to the live King Crab markets. We are just heading out on another trip now. Our season started this year on Feb. 19th because of weather delays most crab is caught between the middle of Feb. and the middle of March. We are still fishing but because of area closures and less boats participating production has slowed down considerably. It is interesting to me that as our season progresses our price to us goes up yet the price to the consumer goes down. Hope you are all enjoying what my crew is working so hard to catch. Thanks KingCrabber

  9. Stephani says:

    I know this may be a stupid question but is there any way to get LIVE King Crab shipped to the Midwest or know of a market that can get it or sells it here?( Missouri or Kansas City) I understand this would be expensive but worth it. (Anyone ever stuck here would understand me saying that :) ) Greatly appreciate any response and Thanks!!

    • Ben says:

      Hi Stephani: I am not sure if anyone would be in a position to answer your question. Perhaps the best way is to contact some of the live AKC sellers and see if they have done it before. Otherwise the frozen AKC is about the most logical route to order them. Ben

      • Brian says:

        Hi Ben,

        this was a good piece of information you put up here, thank you!
        I was wondering if you have updated any of your findings on Alaskan King Crab, I’m from England and have been looking a Norwegian King, not many people might know about Norwegian King Crab, but they have a big King Crab industry out there.

        I’d be interested to know if you have found more information on where to buy, or if Bulk buy is the way ahead if people group together and have the freezer capacity to free and hold large quantities of Sea food. if I find any good information I shall post it to you Ben.

        Kind regards,
        Brian from England

  10. Byron says:

    I want to get Whole King Crab delivered to my home in Louisiana but I don’t want to have to order a minimum of say 50 pounds. I would like maybe 10 to 20 pounds live. Were can I get this for the best price?

  11. bbdiez says:

    I live in Louisiana and want to know if you have a web site that I can order a whole king crab and have it delivered to my home, cooked or raw, thanks.

  12. LynnB says:

    I know of a place in Wrangell, Alaska that sells live king crab. They ship it to you live too. They’re Alaska SEA Special Seafoods, phone number is 907-306-5525. Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AlaskaSpecialSeaSeafoods?ref=br_tf . I just called them today.

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