Suanne and I was thinking that if there is just one dinner we organize this year for readers of chowtimes, it should be one for the Alaskan King Crab. This is because in order to properly savour the Alaskan King Crab, you need at least 6 people. And more is better. A proper sized Alaskan King Crab would be about 8lbs and up. Anything smaller than that will mean little flesh in skinny legs and claws.
We came to learn that not a lot of people had tried the Alaskan King Crab before. This is despite that proximity to the fishing grounds of these prized crabs. The reason is simple. At off peak season, these crabs could cost $30 and beyond per pound and with a 10lb crab, you are looking at some serious dollars.
It is in late February to mid March every year that the prices of the Alaskan King Crab gets to a more affordable level. The season is short. Just 2-3 weeks and then prices will inch up again.
So we put the word out for this dinner and the response was very good.
There are many many Chinese restaurants that will serve Alaskan King Crab. You can easily get almost 2 dozen ads in the Chinese newspapers during the peak season. Each of them will try to outdo one another. Some by offering lower prices. Others by seeking different and novel ways of making it. It is bewildering exercise trying to decide which to go to.
We decided that for this chowtimes Alaskan King Crab dinner, we go to a place that is considered by some the granddaddy the Alaskan King Crab feast. Sun Sui Wah claims that they are the pioneer having perfected the preparation of the Alaskan King Crab. How far true their claims are, I have no idea. But for a moment, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt if not for the reason that no one is challenging them to this claim.
Secondly, I thought that we would not go wrong if the good folks at the Chinese Restaurant Awards selected Sun Sui Wah to win the award for best Alaskan King Crab two years in a row, in 2010 and in 2011.
So how wrong could that get right?
Sun Sui Wah is famous. Sometimes I feel that tourists knows more about Sun Sui Wah than Vancouverites. I remember seeing their big floor to ceiling ads walking out of the arrival hall in the YVR airport. It is so big, you can’t miss it. It is effective in forming an impression that Sun Sui Wah is the place to go to for great Cantonese style dinners.
And rightly so too. They had been part of the Chinese restaurant landscape for close to three decades now. They were certainly the king of the hill in the earlier days when Chinese cuisine is in its infancy in Vancouver. They were poised to meet the demands of the waves of newcomers from Hong Kong who were leaving the island in droves fearing the worse about the return to China control.
We tried to time our dinner. We were planning to have the dinner at the weekend when we expected the price of the Alaskan King Crab is the lowest. So we went a week before my own theoretical sweet spot to work out the menu with Sun Sui Wah.
That week prior to the actual dinner, their price was $16.80 per pound. Because of the erratic nature of the prices, they understandably could not confirm the prices for the following week. Unfortunately for us, the price of $16.80 per pound remained the same.
The Alaskan King Crab price in Sun Sui Wah is definitely one of the most expensive around town. I guess they can command a premium for the price because of their reputation and visibility.
We had a total of 30 people attending the AKC dinner. We could not even …