Owner Craig Guynes spoke with us about his passion for bringing East Coast-style seafood to the West Coast, as well as the best way to react to an animatronic shark.
East Meets West
Craig learned to love seafood while growing up in Maryland. So when he and his wife, Irene, decided to open a restaurant in San Jose, Craig was keen on injecting a bit of East-Coast flair into everything from the menu to the decor. The restaurant's nautically themed dining room?complete with strung fishing nets, weathered lengths of rope, and wood-slat booths?mimics the look of a Maryland crab shack. Craig says that it's the small details which truly capture that spirit. To wit, the chefs use Icelandic cod instead of Pacific cod when making fish and chips, and seasonal shipments of Maryland blue crab are the key ingredient in the crab cakes.
A Tale of Two Crabs
Crab cakes are easily one of Craig's favorite items on the menu?"it's what I grew up on," he says?but what kind of crab makes the best cake? The sheer size of Dungeness crabs caused Craig's jaw to drop the first time he saw one, but he says they will never replace blue crabs in his heart. Every season, he drives to the airport so that he can personally retrieve shipments of blue crab directly from Maryland. Craig chuckles when he mentions that Blue Water Seafood & Crab has amassed a rather loyal following of blue-crab lovers in the area. They also keep tabs on these shipments, and usually arrive at the restaurant not long after the crustaceans do.
Surf, Turf, and More
Seven different kinds of oysters sourced from Washington State to Maryland. A tank full of live lobsters and crabs awaiting customers' selection. Add to that all manner of grilled, blackened, and steamed seafood, and the ocean's bounty is quite well-represented at Blue Water Seafood & Crab. Craig and Irene saw no reason to limit the menu, so they diversified with Angus beef burgers, pasta bowls, and other landlocked meals. Craig is especially proud of the full bar, which tempts diners with a range of draft beers, specialty cocktails, and Japanese sakes.
A Welcome to Remember
At Blue Water Seafood & Crab, every visitor gets greeted the same way: by a life-sized animatronic shark hanging from the ceiling. The motion-sensitive predator springs to life whenever the door opens, gnashing its teeth, wiggling its fins, and moving its tail?all with perfect anatomical accuracy, according to Craig. "It does all the stuff that a moving shark does," he says proudly. His favorite reactions usually come from the children, who sit at their tables with eyes wide and mouths agape, unable to look away from the shark until they finally exclaim, "I can't believe that's there!"
At Crabaholic, the fanciest article of clothing you're likely to see is a plastic lobster bib. Don't be fooled by this, or the paper-topped tables; lurking beneath Crabaholic's down-home atmosphere is a host of intricately flavored sealife.
Whether the chefs are filling their boiling pots with lobster, crawfish, oysters, escargot, or any of four breeds of crab, they lock in the flavors of the bayou with liberal doses of cajun spice tailored to each diner's preferred heat level and seasoning. Crabaholic does not limit itself to cajun flavors, either. The dungeness crab might just as easily surprise the palate with a glaze of tamarind or Singapore sauce. Likewise, the restaurant stocks wines, sakes, and Korean soju along with a full complement of domestic and international beers. Adding to the experience of piling up empty half-shells and hollow claws are the undersea murals along the walls and ceiling, complete with surf paraphernalia and life preservers for diners who are a little too hands-on about selecting their lobster.