Joe’s Crab Shack, the much-awaited American beach-themed casual dining concept hailing from Texas, has finally opened its doors in the UAE. This is the chain’s very first venture out of the United States. It’s very first UAE store in The Dubai Mall is aptly located right next to the Dubai Aquarium with scenic aquatic views. The UAE branch started operations yesterday, and we were invited to check them out last night.
The restaurant is brightly lit, and has a very groovy, fun-loving feel to it. With surfboards and quirky seafood-themed captions across the walls, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve stumbled into a Miami beach bum’s hideout.
What I wasn’t expecting was the crowd. It was a little past 9 in the evening when we got there. It was a weekday, and Day 1 for Joe’s Crab Shack, and the place was fully packed! Tables of crab-munching maniacs and overall seafood fans were making merry like it was the weekend.
Despite the overloaded chaos, the staff looked relatively calm and collected. Perhaps it’s their psychedelic t-shirts with giant ‘peace’ signs that kept them going. Darlings, this is only Day 1!
Our table was hosted by an ever-smiling young man who, in true Joe’s Crab Shack tradition, asked to be passed the roll of tissue on the table to introduce himself (this got me hysterical, I thought he wanted to blow his nose!). He promptly tore off a piece and scribbled his name. Here’s RJ for you, ain’t he adorable!
We went through the Joe’s Crab Shack menu, and ofcourse we ordered crab! To start off with while we pondered over the options, we nibbled on a platter of their ‘Great Balls of Fire’.
Served on a bed of fries and lined with brown paper, the presentation of the dish reminds me of greasy Fish & Chips takeaways. Aaah the fond memories of my youth! Thankfully the ‘Great Balls of Fire’ are not on the greasy end of the spectrum. These are essentially deep-fried breaded dumplings of cream cheese and crab meat with a slight hint of jalapeno heat. Quite moreish if you ask me!
Apart from the obvious crab selection, Joe’s Crab Shack has a number of seafood specialty dishes, and even do chicken for people who are not that into seafood.
Ordering crab at Joe’s Crab Shack is pretty straightforward. It’s a 2 step process really. All you have to do is choose the variety of crab you want, and then choose the flavoring to go with it.
Two buckets of Jumbo Bairdi Crabs were ordered on our table, one in Garlic Herb, the other in Spicy Boil. Look-wise, they are identical.
The crab itself is very meaty, and the bucket includes a very juicy cob of corn.
RJ came over to explain how the crabmeat extraction is done. Below is a click of the crab munchers’ weapons:
And ofcourse the crabsters got aprons! Adding a touch of Joe’s Crab Shack quirkiness, each apron was scribbled on with a personalized caption. Hubby got ‘Hot Crab’ (I’d like to think this is because all his orders involved jalapeno!) and munchkin got hers scribbled with ‘Little Crabs’.
If all that crab cracking is not your thing, fret not. The staff at Joe’s Crab Shack are pros at the game, and are more than willing to help.
With a little help from our Joe’s Crab Shack friends, the litter bucket on our table filled up in no time!
Joe’s Crab Shack’s ‘The Ragin Cajun’ is a very special pot of crab. First of all, its served in a Dutch Oven, and includes jumbo shrimps. The Cajun flavor is really raging out of this one!
Buried deep beneath the Dutch Oven, ‘The Ragin Cajun’ revealed a rather rude looking meaty sausage! I’ve never had crab with sausage. Interesting mix!
Being a major salmon fan, I decided to give Joe’s ‘Cedar Roasted Salmon’ a try.
The salmon has been steamed, and pan-fried to give it the lovely caramelized outer layer, and then gently roasted on a block of cedar wood. I was skeptical about all that cooking. Surely the salmon would be far too over-cooked? However, I was mighty impressed with this fillet. It was beautifully moist and subtly salted. Just look at how beautifully pink and juicy the insides are!
The salmon was accompanied with a bowl of buttery mashed potatoes, and a cob of corn. However, even the salmon on its own is a delicious fishy treat.
Joe’s Crab Shack has an interesting seafood themed drinks menu. And no, they don’t do crab juice!
The menu challenges us to take a sip on the dangerous side, and I therefore had to try their very gory looking ‘Shark Bite’ (oh, and it comes with a free toy!).
Joe’s Crab Shack’s ‘Shark Bite’ is essentially a citrus flavored fizzy drink with the added sweetness of blueberry. The little shark dangling off the goblet holds a deep red grenadine syrup made to look like blood. When poured into the blue fizz, its gives the effect of a gory drama scene right out of Jaws.
Pretty nifty don’t you think? And my daughter walked out of Joe’s Crab Shack with four free shark toys!
For our round of desserts, we went for Joe’s Crab Shack’s ‘Sea Turtle Sundae’.
Two wedges of decadently smooth, rich brownie slices are served under a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and drizzled down with caramel. The brownies have the intense hit of chocolate without being overbearingly sweet. A must-try for dessert lovers!
Planning on a rowdy, fun-filled night out with friends over some very Americanized seafood grub? Head over to Joe’s Crab Shack. They are located on the Second Floor of The Dubai Mall, right next to the aquarium. Get crabbing!