An Alaskan King Crab Adventure

Once in a while I would come across some epic comments. Some of them had so much content value that I sort of elevated the comments to a full post so that everyone gets the chance to read it in full.


This one is different. This was not a comment left on Rather it was an email sent to us. Every now and then we do received emails  from readers sharing their dining experiences but never this level of detail!

I enjoyed reading this accounts as these are written from the heart. I mean not many people would take the time and effort to write in such manner if not for the passion to share.


This email below came from Lily who had an Alaskan King Crab dinner in the Golden Phoenix Restaurant. We had been to Golden Phoenix before but it was for dim sum. The post is here. Golden Phoenix specializes in their specialty soups.

From Lily’s post below the current AKC price is just $13.80 per pound but … there is a but … that is the price of the crab only. Cooking is extra. I guess this is another practice of restaurants trying to pull people into the restaurant by stating an artificially low price. I guess it is really $13.80 per pound if you like Alaskan King Crab sashimi — really fresh ones. LOL!

Here … enjoy the account of Lily below:

It started yesterday morning when my mother and I decided to … have our AKC dinner at Golden Phoenix Restaurant on Nanaimo St. in East Van.  We did a pre-visit by having dim sum there and inquiring about availability and price of AKC.  The assistant manager was pleased that we wanted to have our AKC dinner there, and was very accommodating.  It was $13.80 a pound.  We told her we were interested in a 10 lb + crab and she said no problem.  My mother casually mentioned that we heard about rip-offs in other restaurants, but she said she “knows what to do” (a code perhaps?).  Then and there, we “reserved” a crab and a table for five.

A little history here – We had our first AKC experience in a restaurant at the Golden Phoenix in 2009.  It was fabulous and memorable!  We had the four-course meal:  Steamed legs w/minced garlic, spicy salt and pepper knuckle joints, baked seafood w/Portuguese sauce and rice in the crab shell, and yee mein cooked in the remaining minced garlic sauce.  The only one that doesn’t seemed worth the money was the yee mein.  It was very savoury but nevertheless simple in preparation and plain-looking in comparison with the other dishes.  We also order two additional dishes to give some balance to the AKC feast.  The crab was big, perhaps 9 to 10 lbs.  We had leftovers for next day.  Oh, I guess I should add – there were only three of us dining:  my mother, my sister, and I.  We told them a fourth (my brother) was coming from work but he had to call to say he couldn’t come.  It was a ruse really.  I know it sounds devious, but it sounded really decadent for a family of three to enjoy this AKC dinner, and it was more important to us that we didn’t want to get “ripped-off” if the restaurant is judging us and think we can’t handle the amount of crab.  I don’t really remember exact prices but I think it cost over $200.

In 2010, we had AKC three times in two different restaurants.  While good, we weren’t as satisfied as our first time.  When the assistant manager said that we looked familiar at dim sum yesterday, we assured her that we’ve had their AKC dinner here before in 2009, and didn’t make it back last year.  As a matter of fact, we buttered her up and said that we ate AKC at other restaurants, but we were reminiscing about their preparation of the AKC dishes.  No lies, really!

Tonight we had the three-course meal.  No yee mein this time, and we substituted the spicy salt and pepper knuckle joints with the “golden sand” knuckle joints that’s deep-fried with an egg yolk batter.  Yummy!  There was a lot of meat in the joints, and I think the sweetness of the crab meat was not over-powered with the spicy salt and pepper.  The AKC was a whopping 12.5 lb monster!  We asked if there was a slightly smaller one, but the assistant manager said no.  This was the smallest.  Oh well, we were there to eat.  Bring it on!!!  Oh yeah, there were again only the three of us!

We made an excuse that the other two were working and would try to make it.  I guess it was stupid, but gluttony is technically one of the original seven sins.  LOL!  All thoughts disappear when food started arriving.  We were curious when only two plates of the steamed legs appeared.  When we inquired, we were told there were two more plates coming, but they were staggered to give us time to eat first and not have to worry about the steamed legs getting cold.  Great!  Mind you, the plates were not overloaded with legs and that’s why there were four plates coming.  Since we were only three dining, we did not feel we had to restrict ourselves or be polite.  If you want more, go for it.  There was a lot of white crab fat mixed in with the garlic sauce (jhup).  As we were not ordering yee mein, we asked for a take-out container for the sauce.  You can guess what we’re having for tomorrow’s dinner.

In addition to the AKC, we ordered two more dishes from the menu.  Really too much food, but I would have felt a little guilty about only ordering the AKC meal and nothing else.  The profit margin isn’t as great as you would think.  After all, you only have to see what the market is charging for AKC per pound.  Any way, if you’re interested, the AKC was $172.50 (which included the steamed crab legs) plus $25 for the two courses ($10 for the golden sand knuckle joints and $15 for the seafood rice baked in the shell).  The other two dishes was about $28 which then had a 10% discount.  No charge for the red-bean dessert, but we were offered a baked tapioca pudding for $10 for which we had to decline.  Too much food already.   Including tax and tip, we paid $275.00 for the three of us.  Definitely enough food for another meal.  Expensive?  Yes, but worth it.  Including a dim sum breakfast this morning at the Rainflower Restaurant in Richmond for just Mum and me, it was the most I’ve spent for one day’s dining.

I really didn’t need to do dim sum this morning, but I was really curious about the VIP membership that I’ve just purchased earlier this week.  I’m a little disappointed that no one else has responded to my request for info about the Rainflower membership.  I’m assuming only Chinese literate customers purchase this card, since English is nowhere to been seen in promoting this marketing ploy.  I’m planning to use it often enough to “get my money back” from them.  They are more expensive than the dim sum restaurants I frequent, but it’s a stand by if I need to impress someone big time.  It’s transferrable to others, so I will be sharing.  Let me know if you’re ever interested.

As for choosing Golden Phoenix Restaurant over the name brand local restaurants (Sun Sui Wah, Kirin, etal), I don’t think I can “trust” them not to rip me off.  I am a local born Canadian of Chinese descent.  I speak Cantonese fluent enough, but still sometimes feel judged by these arrogant captain/manager/waitstaff types.  Paranoid?  Maybe, but I’ve seen enough situations that give Chinese restaurant a bad reputation.  I can afford to dine out, but that doesn’t mean I will do the Hong Kong thing and give generous lai see packets at CNY time, or other similar practices.

Sorry for ranting on and on.  I’m blaming it on the bottle of icewine that we cracked open when we got home.  Hehe…got to have dessert!  There’s a (couple of) sweet tooth to satisfy.    Good night.


This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Buddha Boy

    This post on AKC just reminded me about your giveaway for the AKC dinner at Golden Great Wall, but I can’t find any details from you or your fellow diners to the meal. How was that dinner?

    1. Ben

      Hi Buddha Boy: LOL! You are the second person asking me about this. I have so many “mega meals” that was backlogged since … oh … 06Feb (!) that I had not gotten down to it yet. OK OK … since you asked for it, I will work on it ahead of others and post it on Monday. On your special request! Please let me know what you think. 🙂 In short we had an amazing and delightful night. I wish you had participated in it. Ben

      1. Ben

        OMG BB … this is gonna be surely a mega meal. I just processed 50 pictures! 🙂 Ben

      2. Buddha Boy

        Don’t rush it because I asked for it, i was just wondering because this post reminded me and then I was wondering how Golden Great Wall did their AKC, it’s too bad because to me, the AKC season is coming to a close.

      3. Ben

        Hi Buddha Boy: Hey did you see that post I wrote about the AKC in Golden Great Wall. You were asking for it and I rushed it for you. Please take a look at it and let me know what you think, honestly! 🙂 Ben

  2. James

    I have the same bad feeling about Sun Sui Wah, just like any other tourist trap in Hongkong I had experienced when I visited there.

  3. liz

    Even though you’ve paid for the AKC I think adding a charge to cook the crab is ok. I would think it similar to buying granite tiles then paying someone to pave it on the floor.

  4. Doug

    That practice is not correct Liz. Your basically saying its okay to pay the sticker price but expect hidden cost, without the customer knowing until you’ve gotten the bill? The cost of cooking the crab should have been included in the AKC price because that would be misleading information to the customer. AKC should be like any other dish because everything requires cooking. Would you charge a plate of pasta an extra $5.00 because it has to be cooked?

    1. liz

      Thanks, Doug. I see what you mean. So if the customer pays restaurant price for AKC then there should not be a cooking charge; it’s built in. Crispy and BB also present valid points and yes, I think I misread Lily’s post.
      Guess no one has been charged extra when ordering live lobster or fish when it’s cooked one way.

  5. Crispy Lechon

    Some Chinese restaurant actually allows you to bring your own crab, fish or other seafoods. They will cook it for you for a charge. Usually about 10 dollars or so per lb. But if its ordered in the restaurant, there shouldnt be any charge at all to cook it. Never seen any restaurant doing that here.

  6. Buddha Boy

    Most places I’ve been to charge AKC to include cooking in one style. So, the stated price is the crab and one cooking style, say…steamed garlic, if you want deep fried as well, then I’ve had to pay another $2/lb.

    Oh, I think we all misread Lily’s post, she did say that the price was $13.80/lb which included steamed legs, she had to add additional to have the golden sand ($10) as well as for the rice ($15). I think that’s pretty decent, in line with many other restaurants.

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