Take a Bite

Get ‘Crackin’ in Waikiki

May 20th, 2015
PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comThe best way to get the full Crackin' Kitchen experience is to order up the $70 Ultimate Combo comprising snow and king crab legs, shrimp, mussels, clams, potatoes, corn cob slices and Spam, prepared in the restaurant's signature red, white and black sauces.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

The best way to get the full Crackin' Kitchen experience is to order up the $70 Ultimate Combo comprising snow and king crab legs, shrimp, mussels, clams, potatoes, corn cob slices and Spam, prepared in the restaurant's signature red, white and black sauces.

Oahu became flooded with seafood boil restaurants beginning in the summer of 2012. New to Waikiki this summer is Crackin' Kitchen.

Its menu is highlighted by a $70 Ultimate Combo comprising three bags of snow and king crab legs, shrimp, mussels, clams, potatoes, corn cob slices and Spam, prepared in the restaurant's signature red, white and black sauces created by Takeshi Omae, who was executive chef at Morimoto XEX in Tokyo when the restaurant received its Michelin star in 2008 and 2009.

Hmm, since when does a satisfying crab require the skills of a Michelin chef?

For each sauce, you can pick spice levels of mild, hot or XXX. The “hot” level was enough to create the sort of burn painful when paired with warm food.

The white sauce is a sort of throwaway, with a basic sauce of Maui onions, ginger and lemon butter, for those who like plainer, jolt-free meals. The flavor hints more at Chinese than Cajun cuisine.

So diners are lured into a friendly battle over red sauce or black sauce, with staffers gushing over the black sauce that blends coffee, black pepper and Hawaiian cacao. Every once in a bite, you’ll come across a nib of chocolate.

Does it actually enhance the crab? I’m not so sure, but it tastes great with the pieces of potato and slices of corn. By leftover time, the complexity had grown on me, but frankly, I'd rather taste fresh crab and wish there was a plain boil with sauces served on the side to give diners more control.

For the finale, chef Takeshi Omae created "Sweet Art," a Waikiki beach scene painted with a variety of fruit sauces, chocolate sauce and an assortment of macadamia nuts, fresh fruit and mini malasadas.

For the finale, chef Takeshi Omae created Sweet Art, a Waikiki beach scene painted with a variety of fruit sauces, chocolate sauce and an assortment of macadamia nuts, fresh fruit and mini malasadas.

Fanny Bay oysters on the half shell.

Fanny Bay oysters on the half shell.

Guava-soy chicken wings topped with mac nuts.

Guava-soy chicken wings topped with mac nuts.

Housemade chips with avocado and lobster dip. You need to use that lime wedge to bring out the lobster flavor.

Housemade chips with avocado and lobster dip. You need to use that lime wedge to bring out the lobster flavor.

Decadent chowder fries combine mashed potatoes and french fries, with a layer of chowder, cheddar and bacon.

Decadent chowder fries combine mashed potatoes and french fries, with a layer of chowder, cheddar and bacon.

Bags separate seafood prepared with the trio of house sauces.

Bags separate seafood prepared with the trio of house sauces.

Ready to dig in.

Ready to dig in.

The dessert artist's palette.

The dessert artist's palette.

A little bit of humor addressing diners' klepto habits.

A little bit of humor addressing diners' klepto habits.

Crackin' Kitchen is at 364 Seaside Ave. Call (808) 922-5552 or visit www.crackinkitchen.com.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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