Alaskan King Crab — Now In Season!


It’s finally here!

The once a year Alaskan King Crab love fest has started. I can see that over the next few days and next week, it will take off in earnest.

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I had been monitoring this for some time because I plan to go to at least one Alaskan King Crab dinner this year. Last year, we had the Alaskan King Crab dinner at Kirin which we blogged about here. It was fabulous and memorable meal.

Everyone should have this at least once in your life if you never had it before. You know, we are so lucky to be living in this part of the world where we have access to the best and the cheapest compared to the rest of the world.

The thing you have to bear in mind is that the Alaskan King Crab season is short. Very short. The season will normally run from end February to mid-March. That is the time when there are bargains galore all over the Chinese restaurants in Vancouver. For those of you living in the US, you MUST take a drive up to Vancouver and enjoy some of the best Alaskan King Crab meals you will ever have. Trust me on this!

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Here is a bit of what I wrote about regarding the Alaskan King Crab meal we had last year:

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. Average of one fisherman will die each season.

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.

You are gonna be quite surprised by this … 

Alaskan-King-Crab-1Alaskan-King-Crab-2Alaskan-King-Crab-3Alaskan-King-Crab-4Alaskan-King-Crab-5Alaskan-King-Crab-7Alaskan-King-Crab-8Alaskan-King-Crab-9Alaskan-King-Crab-10Alaskan-King-Crab-11Alaskan-King-Crab-12Alaskan-King-Crab-7Alaskan-King-Crab-8Alaskan-King-Crab-9Alaskan-King-Crab-10Alaskan-King-Crab-11Alaskan-King-Crab-17Alaskan-King-Crab-13Alaskan-King-Crab-20Alaskan-King-Crab-18Alaskan-King-Crab-14Alaskan-King-Crab-22Alaskan-King-Crab-19Alaskan-King-Crab-21Alaskan-King-Crab-15

Your best source of information on who is doing what is in the vancouver area Chinese newspapers. Suanne picked up Mingpao yesterday and we were surprised how many ads there were already on the King Crab.

There are 23 ads above which we scanned and loaded it up in case you want to see them. You can click on each picture above to show it larger. The best way to view this is to right-click on the picture and then open the page in a new tab or new page. That way you don’t have to flip back and forth too much!

Of the 23 ads above, only 3 of them advertised the price. The rest just said that they are offering “Duc Gar” (Cantonese for Special Prices).

Please note that the prices are expected to drop in the days and week to come and so don’t take these prices as firm. I just wanted to call these three out so that we can discuss the ways and technique to order Alaksan King Crab. It is because Alaskan King Crab is expensive (although cheap in Vancouver) and so you want to know more before you go.

Here are the three with advertised prices:

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The cheapest advertised is Imperial Court in Richmond which we blogged about, although not Alaskan King Crab. It is $10.88 per pound. I understand that the lowest Alaskan King Crab could go down to us $9 per pound but really, you should avoid cheap places like plague.

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Let’s discuss why later.

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The Empire Chinese Cuisine (our blog post here but for Alaskan King Crab) is only about 10 cents more. I remember reading comments left on chowtimes about Empire Chinese Cuisine. There were quite a bit of negative feedback about their underhand tactics.

Good things not cheap, cheap things not good. So you want to be careful.

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The Fortune Restaurant in the Oakridge Center is one place we never been there before. They advertise this as $16.80 per pound.

As a reference, the T&T Supermarket is selling the AKC  for $12.88 per pound right now.

My Thoughts:

Here are what little I know about the Alaskan King Crab. I am hoping some of you will also chip in with your knowledge so that collectively we are all the wiser when we go out and try it.

  • The prices are always advertised per pound. The prices will include the cooking.
  • There are many ways of cooking the Alaskan King Crab. The most popular way is steaming with garlic because it brings out the best and the sweetness of the meat. Most restaurants will cook the King Crab in either two or three ways of your choice.
  • The size does matter. Typically, go for 8 lbs or more. The bigger it is the more meat.
  • 8 lbs should be enough for 5-6 people.
  • Plan on spending $120 to $150 for a good meal … perhaps about $20+ per person.
  • Beware of the tactics of the restaurants. Sometimes they offer low prices but have fine prints (eg. low prices applies only to small crabs)
  • Call for pricing before you go because the prices could fluctuate like the stock market.

I would like to call upon your comments on how to avoid being cheated with AKC. I know people will be upset especially having paid so much and had such high expectation that the meal is less than satisfactory. Any advice would be appreciated!

How About a Win-Win-Win Plan Here?

Let’s see if I can pull this win-win-win plan off. I am targeting this portion of the post to any Chinese restaurant who wants to take on this.

I am proposing:

  • A win for the restaurant
  • A win for the lucky chowtimes readers
  • A win for chowtimes

You see … it seems to us that restaurants spends big bucks advertising their AKC offerings in the papers. I am suggesting that the restaurant save the money for advertising one less time. Instead use the money for even greater exposure for your restaurant.

Chowtimes has over 10,000 pageviews per day and they are read by people who are foodies and are interested in food. Over a period of two weeks, anything that is written on chowtimes generates 140,000 pageviews targeted to the right people. Which is tremendous, I think.

The restaurant need to think about this unique situation too. The Chinese restaurants advertises in the Chinese papers targeting Chinese customers. There are a lot of English speaking readers out there who would love to try this and chowtimes can deliver a whole new demographics to the restaurant.

So, what I am proposing is this. Any restaurant interested, to give chowtimes a table of 10 serving a feast centered around the Alaskan King Crab. For free of course with the cost coming out from not advertising on the papers for one day only.

For chowtimes, we will invite 8 lucky readers (chosen by random draw) to join us in the feast. I am sure this will be much appreciated by readers and will also draw much attention to your restaurant.

In return, we will blog about the AKC feast but of course the food and service better be good. This is because we will write honestly about our experiences and we will draw on the feedback of the other guest diners.

Any restaurant willing to support this wild plan of mine?

71 thoughts on “Alaskan King Crab — Now In Season!

  1. Would love to join in an AKC dinner. I’ve only been once to a restaurant in Richmond which has since closed down a few years ago..and want to know where is good now!

  2. Hey all,

    I was thinking how king crab fans tend to have their own favourite “go to” places for king crab in season. I was wondering if anyone’s willing to share some of their favourites (or their least favourites, for that matter). 🙂

  3. As long as the AKC is alive, its considered “fresh” 🙂 But as far as the AKC being meaty and having natural sweetness in the meat, it will come down to the timing of the season, IMOP.

  4. I have been to both Fortune & Kirin downtown in the past for their AKC, but like BB/BG, I’ll say nothing beats home cooked AKC. Best size is 13lbs & up, but you must have a crowd to feast. Last year, we bought ours direct from a distributor in Richmond (1st time) & the price was $4/lb lower than the retail price, but it was tough wrestling with the huge beast. Therefore, if you do not possess the skills or tools for disecting the AKC, my advice is don’t attempt it!

      • BB, the seafood distributor is in Rowan Place (near Richelieu on Rowan/Jacombe). I’ll have to send someone to find out the Unit# (as there are a couple of seafood distributors in the area) and while at it, will check on the price for you too. I heard it is more expensive at the beginning of AKC season, so you may want to go later on.

        BTW, I steam my AKC the way you do, but I only put the garlic oil (must be boiling & lots of garlic) & spring onion after the cooking. We save the liquid from the steaming and make custard egg together with the stuff from the shell…..very yummy!

  5. My favorite AKC feast is 3 ways.
    1.Garlicky steamed AKC legs
    2.Deep fried AKC with “salted egg york”
    3.Yee mein with remaining AKC meat juices

    yum yum

  6. Hi Ben,
    I called them to make reservation 2 days before your post, and they said 12.99 per pound for the AKC.
    Did the price change in 2 days or are they doing this because I am not Chinese? 😦

    • Hi Erica: Who is “them”? Who did you call? I will certainly have a closer look if it is $12.99. Just be sure the price is for a big AKC. Smaller ones are cheaper and there are not much flesh. Aim for 8lbs or higher. Ben

  7. I’m going to cross my fingers and hope some restaurant is willing to participate in it because you’re absolutely right, Ben! 🙂

    The amount of traffic that comes through chowtimes stomps out a daily chinese newspaper’s half page ad (that costs an arm and a leg)!

  8. very interesting, never tried AKC, i’ve always
    been a dungeoness crab guy..just tie a fish head into
    the crab trap and you got dinner!

    would be interested in this, sounds fun

  9. AKC dinner sounds good count me in. Thanks Ben for the AKC season info, I did not know it has only one short season before.

  10. I don’t know, this doesn’t feel quite right to me. It sounds like you are willing to sell a review for a free meal. Chowtimes has refrained from this in the past, and, I think, for good reason. In addition, you have to wonder how informative the review will be if it’s a planned event – like you said, the food and service had better be good, and it probably will be. Will these be representative of a normal dinner there? Very likely, no.

    There’s a reason newspapers and magazines don’t enter into such arrangements, and I don’t think it’s a good idea for a blog to do it either.

    • Hi Jason:

      To me, it is alright as long as I call it out correctly and clearly as such on whatever I write. This suggestion is no far different from say the Mamak Cafe event where Mamak Cafe gave 50 readers a big discount for a tasting meal and I write about the event after. These events are appreciated by a vast majority of readers. I will call out everything, including the bad and ugly (i.e. about the uncooked chicken that affected a few people during the Mamak event).

      My intention organizing this is not for myself but with the readers in mind. Let me state very clearly that Suanne and I do get a LOT of invites every week but we had declined to attend. As a matter of fact, we have a policy to state up front in bold clear headlined manner if every any meals are free. No other blogs have done what I did in stating so. This is so that everyone who reads a post know immediately how the post came about even before another word is read.

      Whatever you do, Jason, it is important to me that you don’t call my integrity into question because I would have none of that and because I think it is unfair to judge my intention. Ben and Suanne are NOT Michelin inspectors. We like to talk about food. We like to engage readers to journey along in our discovery. That is all.

      We even have a category of posts called “Disclosures” here: https://chowtimes.com/tag/disclosures/ … Please check out this out.

      So Jason, I respect your views but I hope you trust me when I say that I have no desire to have free meals (describing that I am “WILLING to SELL a review for a FREE MEAL” is quite hurtful to me to tell the truth). I can more than adequate pay for the meal myself. As a matter of fact, I paid the full price as everyone else during Mamak Cafe even though I did not have to. I hope you can accept my intention of doing what I am doing here.

      Ben

      • Thanks for the reply Ben, and I’m sorry if I offended you. I thought I had worded my comment carefully, saying it “sounds like” what you were doing was selling a review. On second reading it probably came off more harshly than I intended. Instead, I should have said that I have been reading chowtimes for many years, and it might sound to others than you are selling a review, which is why I’m concerned. I, myself, am quite confident you have good intentions and what you are doing doesn’t affect MY opinion of chowtimes at all.

        That said, my advice remains the same. I think it is bad form for any publication to offer publicity in exchange for some kickback, regardless of if it’s for your readers as well, or if you can afford it anyway.

        Again, I do believe you have the best of intentions and just want a win, win, win for everyone. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. However, I think you should know that from a journalistic standpoint, you are treading in murky territory.

      • Hi Ben,
        You know I have only the highest regard for you and Suanne and I love reading chowtimes and will continue to do so. However, I do agree with Jason’s above comment. In the case of Mamak cafe, I believe it was the owner who approached you as in the many other free offers you may get. However, in this instance, you are asking for restaurants to come to you and that is where I thing Jason is advising caution. Again, please do not take any offence and my esteem of you and Suanne has in no way changed.

      • Hi Jason: Thanks a lot. Perhaps I over-reacted. I appreciate the feedback and I want to say I do not totally disagree with you. I know you meant well … I do. I know a lot of people hold chowtimes to a higher standard … and that by itself meant a lot to us. It tells us that people cares enough. I’m cool now. Hope you are too! 🙂 Let’s talk food? Ben

      • Hey I say if any of my meals are free too :P.

        But I must say, there is a difference between this and Mamak as Michelle has noted.

        But when it comes down to it, this is your site and how you want to run it is your decision, and like I commented earlier, this takes balls to do, and I like it!

      • Well, like you said Kevin … not many people can pull off a stunt like this and I wanted to see if it could be done. I realize now that it might not be a brilliant idea after all. LOL! For what it is worth … it worked and a restaurant had approached us. OMG! OMG! 🙂 Stupid idea or otherwise, I’ll proceed with the plan and hope that people don’t look at chowtimes in a negative light. I’ll be who I am and people will just have to accept me for what I am — warts and all.

        Oh BTW, sorry, I did not mean to say you (or other blogs) does not call out free meals. It was my bungled attempt (in the heat of the moment) in trying to explain that Suanne and I take extra effort to put up a disclaimer right on top of the post calling this out. Suanne spent a few days scouring over 2000 posts so that we identify them and retroactively update the posts. Sorry … did not mean to say what I said. 🙂

        Ben

      • No harm done Ben, I know what you mean to say. 🙂

        If people are offended by what you are doing here, then they obviously don’t realize the work and time that you put into the blog, as it not only benefits yourself but them as well!

  11. Just this morning I was on Youtube checking out videos for how to cook AKC at home…..looks a little challenging, to say the least. In fact, it looked like wrestling an alien…

    I want this year to be the year I actually try it, and it would be my honour to share it with Ben, Suanne and other Chowtimes followers. I think I’ll leave it to the restaurants to do the wrestling!

  12. Have been waiting for the next AKC since the last season. I usually have mine in restaurant near Coquitlam Centre. The restaurant has been there since day one and serve lots of local customers. Though a little pricy but you get what you pay for. Usually prepared in 3 dishes: garlic steam, peppery salt and fried rice in shell. You can add plain noodles (extra charge). I think it started round $14 per lb.

    Ben I like your plan.

  13. Wow! I didn’t even know AKC season was a “thing”, with special restaurant deals and good prices in the stores and such. Yum! I appreciate your efforts at encouraging Asian restaurants to consider potential English-speaking customers. I feel like I miss so much good food because I can’t speak the language. I am going to get a group of friends together to go for an AKC meal. If one of the restaurants takes you up on your offer, then that is where we’ll go. 🙂 (And I’m also going to enter your contest.) (And I’m also going to buy an AKC at T&T.)

    Bring on the crab!

  14. Hi Ben,

    Great idea and we are interested in joining in for AKC dinner however the format you have.

    While it may be great to get a free AKC dinner in return for advertising, maybe you can generate more interest from the restaurants if you let them come to you with their proposal of what they want to do for the Chowtimes event (whether they want to do one table for free, give a discount, or some other frebie).

    This way they have the flexibility of treating one table royally or host a big event on say a weekday evening that they are otherwise not too busy?

    If you have more than one proposal, you get to choose what you think is best.

    How will restaurants find out about Chowtimes?

  15. Woo, please sign us (me and my sweetie) up for your raffle, if you decide to go through with this most excellent proposition! 🙂

  16. Hahaha… that’s quite a proposition…

    I wonder if some of the places have contractual advertising agreements: if that’s the case, it might be difficult to “break them out” of an ad and redirect the funds towards a publicity event. I ran up against this problem a few years ago when attempting to market advertising space in my school paper to local businesses…

    • Agreed!!! AKC is sooo good, now I am tempted to call up a few ppl, and get a table at one of those ads (thanks for the scan) Ben posted.

  17. He’s probably hoping for multiple offers! You can’t have enough AKC…

    And with all these awesome contests, you’d be looking at 20k hits per day or more pretty soon!

  18. Lol we will take up the offer. I don’t even know why Ben posted the review, he could of just e-mail us and we would be glad to host the dinner for free.

  19. If you can pull this off Ben, that is a fantastic idea. Agree it can be a win-win situation. I would be game for this 😉 The garlic better be fresh chopped, and not from a jar (grrrr)!

  20. You would think that a savvy restaurant would take you up on the offer. It’s too bad they don’t think too much of the hidden foodie English reading demographic. Plus they have to consider how big the www is and how many visitors would come based on just one positive review here. Oh I hope someone takes you up on the offer. In the meantime, I think R will have to fight another crab to the death.

  21. We will wait to hear more. Regardless am working on rounding up at least 6 friends to go to have a meal at any restaurant that signs up for this. I think I can lure my daughter back from Kelowna with offers of a AKC meal.

  22. Hmmm sounds like my “Will Blog for Food” idea. LOL. I hope someone will take you up on it and I hope even more that I win a seat. Crispy prays to the AKC gods. LOL.

  23. Good proposal Ben!!! Looking forward to see which restaurant would be interested in it!!!

    Though I am looking forward to the AKC season, but personally, I think I am more a Dungeness Crab person than over AKC person…it’s just personal preference…hehehehe!

    Another note when ordering AKC at restaurant, unless it’s a trusted restaurant, the restaurant/kitchen would often “cheat”…meaning you will get charged for the whole crab but you don’t get the whole thing…just be careful!

    AKC at home would be the best way for the season!!! Yummy!

    • Hi Buddha Girl: You should have plenty of experience with AKC at restaurants. Do you have anything to share about how some resto cheats or what to pay attention to avoid from feeling cheated? Ben

      • Hello Ben! I wish I have lots to share about ordering AKC in restaurants, but we usually do AKC at home, cheaper and more fun! All the stories I have heard are the experiences of my mom-in-law or her friends…hehehehehe!

      • Ooops, forgot to mention that we usually only do AKC at TG, because apparently, according to the oldie-foodies…you get what you paid for…so I guess that’s a good thing…hahahahaha!

      • I like eating at home the AKC’s prepared by my mom better as well LMAO I just like them steamed with garlic, nothing fancy 🙂

        I wanna go with BF for AKC. I was going to ask for your opinion sis but I guess TG is the answer LMAO

      • You go with BF? Take us along! He needs to buy us dinner still! I don’t ask for much, just two 13lbs AKC, plus couple 排翅 each and a 二頭日本乾鮑 or 二頭墨西哥罐頭鮑…hahahahahahahaha!

        Yups…I think we too have couple dinner arrangements already at TG for AKC…hehehehe!

      • Hi Buddha Girl,
        Where do you get your AKC from and how do you prepare it? I’ve made dungeness crab many times killing it at home myself but feel a bit intimidated by the size of the AKC. Do you buy it cut up already and how do you split the legs?
        Thx

      • Hello Michelle! We usually buy it at whatever place that sells them, and they will clean it and cut in pieces for you. All you have to do at home is to cut the legs in half (with a good pair of scissor) so you can spread the garlic (or which ever you prefer) on it for steaming.

      • Last time we bought it from T&T, they sectioned each leg, you need a good pair of kitchen shears to cut each section in half. To cook, I mince lots of garlic (about 4 heads depending on size), and par cook in lots of oil adding salt, some pepper and some chicken powder, allowing the garlic mixture to cool, we put it on the crab meat pieces and steam it. After serving, we usually save the juices from the bottom of the dish and boil it down and mix it with some ‘yee mein’.

        We may do a small crab at home in the next few weeks, and maybe bake a curry in the top shell.

        BB

      • WOW!! Sounds delicious….you’ve inspired me to try this at home!!!! Just one more question….how exactly do you steam it? Do you lay them out flat in a plate on a double boiler. Also what preparation do you do for the bodies? Ooops…I snuck in another question….:-).

      • oh, i forgot the green onions, before steaming, remember to put the green onions on. we use a double boiler. As you mentioned, we lay them flat on a plate, scoop garlic and oil mix on each piece, sprinkle the green onion and steam. I don’t quite remember how long, it’s more of a visual thing.

        When we purchase from T&T, they chop up each leg into sections, you just need to use the strong kitchen shear to cut them in half. I don’t remember if there’s anything special with the head top shell, probably not, just steam that on it’s own and eat the right part like a dungeness crab.

      • Hi BB: These tips will come in handy! Suanne was googling all over for cooking instructions for AKC but could find none. This will be so useful for our weekend project. Thanks a lot! Ben

    • Ben,
      If you don’t mind about ‘the about time to die’ thing at all, you should look up the seafood shop @ Parker Place in the morning. Couple days ago, we got a ~11 pounds AKC for $80.

      Otherwise, we usually get the AKC @ City Fresh Supermarket on Ackroyd Road, Richmond, the price there is sometimes lower than in T&T. 🙂

      • Hi DragonFire: LOL! What is “about time to die” mean? Is it Cantonese for “jau lei sei”? Tell me more about these AKC. It is cheap but if it is “about to die” I am not sure I want to chance it to save $50 or not. Ben

      • Hi Ben, I think DragonFire meant to say the AKC are just about to expire. Speaking from experience, it’s not worth it at any cost. You probably won’t get sick, provided the AKC is well-cooked, but there is no meat. For some reason, AKC meat deteriorates even more quickly than Dungeness crab or Atlantic lobster when you buy them at the same state. I think it’s because AKC meat has a higher liquid content than the other shellfish. No need to waste your money buying one and then cooking it only to find there’s nothing inside.

      • Hi Lily: Is there a way to determine if a AKC is fresh? Like, besides knowing the weight, what else do you consider in selecting the one you want? Ben

      • hi Ben,
        I would stay away from AKC that are not actually moving. You want a lively one!
        The “about to die” variety will have a different texture. Don’t try and save $$ here.

        It’s like almost dead spot prawns…did that once and really was a waste of $$. Mushy meat…not good!
        We had our AKC feast at home last night….check out my post! It was really tasty 🙂

      • Hi JoyLC: Wow, that was an awesome post. Gosh, now I wished we had dropped our plans and went to yours instead. 🙂 I love the rendition of the crab with steamed egg. Reminded me of the same dish we had in Bing Sheng just a month ago. Ben

      • Ben,

        What I meant was the AKC is still alive but very in its top condition. Some of the people have a misunderstanding that these type of seafood is better to avoid and be eaten, I strongly doubt on that since there is only a slight different of the taste.

        For the “meat deteriorates” part, this is depends on the growth of the AKC but not the quality of itself. When all crab meet their stage of ‘growing bigger’, once they get rid of the old shell, better the new shell become tough enough, its meat is still smaller in size which same as the old shell. This is where people misunderstanding between a dead crab and the growing stage crab.

        The only way to find out is to ‘squeeze’ the legs really hard, you will obviously feel the shell is softer than the usual.

        If you have a chance, I wouldn’t mind to get one of each and let you actually taste the different between these two. 🙂

        Any guys, I know if you want the best taste of seafood, it is all depending on the freshness. There is always a give or take in between the price and the taste, no one can force others to have anything against their will. What I mention is only a safe way at lowest price, that’s all.

        Cheers

      • Hi DragonFire: How do you say these “about to die” crabs in Cantonese? We went to the place in Parker Place and they looked at us funny when we asked for the “jau lay say” AKC. LOL! Ben

      • Hi Ben,
        My family is related to the people who owns the seafood shop at Parker Place. If you want to buy about-to-expire AKCs, that’s certainly your choice. After all, it’s available for sale, and the price is right. Having said that, we have been a recipient of those crabs gratis. IMHO, it is not worth heating up the stove top to steam the AKC. There is no meat worth eating, and any meat you see is mushy. Ugh…

      • Oh Ben, you got the right translation “jau lei sei”. 🙂

        You can only found those at the very morning, they usually sold out before noon. May be you should ask Lily to help you get one since she knows the owner.

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