We had dinner with TS and JS (Eating Club Vancouver) and ET and Christina of Doesn’t Tazte Like Chicken earlier this month at Mis Trucos. During the dinner, I brought up the fact that I have NEVER had Alaskan King Crab before. Christina was raving excitedly about the King Crab dinner she had recently and I asked if anyone would be interested go to for it next.
Everyone said “YES!” without any hesitation.
So there and then at Mis Trucos, Christina made a call a certain Ah Joe in Kirin and make reservation for the following weekend. That was very efficient of her. Oh … Christina and ET are regulars in fine dining it seems. They don’t have to call Kirin for reservation … they ask for Ah Joe. And Ah Joe will personally pick a prize crab for them.
So we went to the Kirin in downtown. This one is on Alberni and Bute. For a moment I thought I was at the wrong place because it looked very different. Apparently, they had just renovated the restaurant.
So from Alberni, the only indication that Kirin is here is that little sign above the door. The entrance was plain looking and really unimpressive. It is just all glass on metal frames.
However, the moment you walk in it is a different world. It exudes classiness all round. The decor is elegant and the service is impeccable. ET and Christina was talking to Ah Joe like they are old friends. Ah Joe is a real person pleaser and an excellent captain who attended to us the whole night.
We met at 6PM because some of us had to get somewhere else later on that night. It was early and so we were among the first customers there. Little did I realize that by 7PM this entire restaurant is teeming with customers … many of them having Alaskan King Crab too.
ET pointed out that this place is also popular with Japanese tourists who travels in tour groups.
Our table were reserved and all decked out for the Alaskan King Crab with crab forks and scissors even before we arrived. I was kind of impressed with that. I thought earlier that all tables were set out like that but no.
This is what we came for primarily. That is $14.80 per pound. At minimum you are looking at an eight pound crab … so … we are looking at a minimum of $120 just for the crab.
I was embargoed from mentioning the weight of the crab because ET said we were given a good deal. I can tell you it looked huge and it is huge.
You know, I have been hearing of restaurants cheating about the crab sizes in many places. I was told that you gotta to be careful with places that advertises to be cheap but they will give you a lighter one. Unless you had this like dozens of times, you will likely not know the difference. So, I guess the best thing is never look for the price alone but go to a restaurant that is reputable.
It is standard routine to bring out the crab and show it to the customer before they take it back to the kitchen to cook it.
The crab is the main course. We had an appetizer first …
The “appetizer” is the Peking Duck 2-Way. This is one of the national dishes of China.
The “1st Way” are just the skin of the duck. There are no meat here; only skin … awfully nice thin crispy skin. The skin were pre-sliced and served on a bed of crackers underneath it. I wished they had brought the duck and slices the skin right in front of us (like they do in Man Ri Sung — you will like this restaurant).
Strange isn’t it? Today Peking is known as Beijing and yet the name of the dish will never change to keep up with the times. I had never heard of anyone referring this as the Beijing Duck.
Peking Duck is a DIY kind of dish. Half the fun is assembling it. The pancakes were served warm in a steaming basket. On the side is hoisin sauce and scallions.
According to Peking Duck purists, the duck has to be slaughtered when it is 65 days old. I am not sure if Kirin observes this. Even if they did I would not know any difference.
Yeah, it is a hand food. No need for chopsticks. Assembly is simple … spread the hoisin sauce on the pancake, pick a piece of scallion and a piece of duck skin … wrap and roll … and eat.
If no one is looking you can pick two pieces of the duck skin and quickly wrap it up before anyone sees you. People will notice eventually because at the end they will find one piece short. You need to have a poker face to pull this off.
The “2nd Way” also requires DIY assembly.
The meat of the duck is stir fried with vermicelli and other unidentified stuff. On the side are very cool and fresh and crisp lettuce — perfectly formed.
Another hand food, this is kind of messy to eat because the crisp lettuce tends to crack apart at times spilling the food all over the palm. It was messy for me … and I liked it.
The two Peking Duck dishes costs $40.
Tada! The real dinner is served.
I could feel everyone putting their hands together and clap when the crab is brought to the table. No one actually clapped but I felt that they did. It is a sight to marvel.
The Alaskan King Crab are only caught during harsh winter months, mostly in the waters off Alaska. It is lucrative fishing for these prized crabs but it is also very dangerous. Fishing for king crabs is the second most dangerous job in the world after lumber.
The fishermen makes enough money during the short fishing season that they don’t have to work if they don’t want to for the rest of the year. Guess how much money they make. At the peak years, captains make $150K while crew members make $80K.
Oh … a quick question for you. There are no meat in the large body shell isn’t it?
I think all the flesh is in the legs, not in the body.
Anyway, the Alaskan King Crab is served in two separate dishes, which is the most popular way that people have it.
The first dish is steamed with garlic.
The garlic is a mix of minced raw garlic and deep fried garlic. It is simply marvelous. It is like one of those food you just have to eat it with your eyes closed and savour every lip licking bite.
It is the size and the succulent flesh that make the King Crab the king of crabs. All the pieces were pre-cut nicely so there is very little work getting to the flesh. All you need is to hold the leg with one hand and the crab fork on the other to dig out the flesh.
The flesh … OMG … you gotta just eat it at least once in your life. ET said that this is a combination of dungeness crab and lobster.
Please give me a minute while I wipe the drool on my keyboard.
For this piece I pile on the minced garlic … lots of it.
Mid way through this meal, I suddenly realized that I actually had King Crabs before. As a matter of fact I had FOUR full plates of it in a casino buffet restaurant in Reno (see here). But that king crab is just steamed and served cold with melted butter as dip. This one is classier.
They so thoughtfully gave us each a bowl of lemon water to cleanse the palate before the next serving of the King Crab. Strange no one drank this. I guess the crab must have been really delicious.
I like the second King Crab dish better …
The other half of the king crab is deep fried with pepper salt. Very different from the steamed with garlic version … the complete opposite of it. Just like ying and yang … served according to the principles of Chinese cooking of harmonious balance.
The fatter legs are used for this.
Look at it. The coating outside the shell is fragrant. Yeah, I gnaw at the shell to scrape off every morsel of the coating.
Inside the shell is surprisingly juicy too.
When we ate this dish, I noticed the conversation level dropped a bit. Everyone was busy.
You know what the above is?
I don’t know what you call this but it is all the bits and pieces of garlic, chili, scallions, and whatnots from the deep fried king crab. They are wonderful. The waiter was smart to keep that for us. This is great with steamed rice.
Oh … we were not done yet. More food to come believe it or not.
The above is a recommended item from Ah Joe. This is called Beef Stir Fried with Dried Tangerine Peel and Hot Chili ($12). The sauce has a very strong citrus taste … it is so strong that at a sniff it almost smelled like wine. The beef was tender.
Dried tangerine peel are expensive the older it is. It is normally stored and dried for 1 year for normal commercial grade but there are rare ones that is decades old.
We also had the Fried Buns which they call Deep Fried Silver Thread Roll … this is dipped in condensed milk served on the side.
I noticed that the insides were layered. I had never come across this before. Question I have is, why is it like this?
Anyway, this is $7.50.
We also had fried rice. This is $16. Hmmm … I am thinking that I had never have fried rice this expensive before.
This is Egg White and Scallop Fried Rice. Actually we were all too full to really enjoy this. The ingredients are top notch but I felt the execution was not up to par.
Desserts. We always have room for desserts.
But this one came in such a big dish. We hardly had half of it and had the remaining to go. This is kind of expensive at $23 and is called Tapioca with red bean paste. But for some reason this is complementary. I think this is another gift from Ah Joe to ET and Christina.
I had better ones although this is undoubtedly delicious. You see, I just hate the red bean paste that is right underneath the flaky pastry on top. It made this dessert too “busy”.
The tab surprised me. It came up to just $203 before tips. That works out to be about $82 per couple.
I know Mis Trucos is gonna hate me forever for saying this again but I want to make a point why I felt this meal is more satisfying than the tapas meal we had in Mis Trucos. For the same number of diners (six), the bill was $196 while the feast here is $203. Swing over to the Mis Trucos post and see what we had and then come back and see what we had here.
It was a fantastic meal. So … TS, JS, ET and Christina … tell me your thoughts of this meal. Good one huh? It’s gonna be hard to top this. Where to next?