Saturday, September 4, 2010

Crayfish & Hush Puppies

It had been awhile since taking a day away from the beach and driving the one hour into Maitland town, and Friday was the day for that. Some bank business needed attention, but mainly I wanted to meet and have dinner with some friends and try out a new restaurant we had been talking about. All but one of us come from Louisiana, and since this new place features Cajun-Creole recipes, we looked forward to an evening of down home flavors. There was a few years back, a very good restaurant for Louisiana cooking in the area, but for one reason or another it didn’t last. And then a terrific Creole restaurant opened out at the beach, but then picked up and moved to Atlanta after about half a year.

The new place is called KING CAJUN CRAWFISH, and is what looks to be a Chinese restaurant revamped to serve the regional food of southern Louisiana. The employees all looked to be Chinese, but somewhere along the way the chef learned how to cook the specialty dishes we grew up eating—and learned it pretty well. It is a small restaurant of about twelve tables and during the time we were they were all full, with people waiting at the front for an open table.

First off, when you talk about Cajun cooking, crawfish, jambalaya, catfish, gumbo, blue crab, hush puppies and po boys are going to be right at the top. It’s also going to be a spicy sort of dinner, with Louisiana hot sauce and Cajun seasoning in almost everything.

The idea was to sample as many of the ‘classic’ dishes as we could, and the menu makes that easy to do in some cases by offering small and large sized portions. We started with a pound of boiled crawfish set down in the center of the table. I know that some are unfamiliar with this kind of shellfish, and others shy away from eating it altogether. The Japanese do not consider it an edible shellfish at all, and will often makes faces when hearing of it on the dinner table. I have one thing to say about that: They don’t know what they’re missing. The crawfish at King Cajun Crawfish are very good, and I’m sure are live shellfish not very long before reaching the table.

Next we tried a small portion of gumbo and another of jambalaya. The gumbo was fiery hot, maybe just a little too spicy, but we rated it good. I would have liked it with more okra and less sausage, but the chef made a good base with the rich flavor characteristic of this thick soup. The jambalaya was not at all bad, but the taste of celery salt was stronger than it should be. My sister makes an eye-opening jambalaya which I’ve eaten dozens of times and I don’t think she includes celery salt in her recipe. Along with the gumbo and jambalaya we got a basket of hush puppies, the little balls of deep fried cornbread which taste much better than they sound.

Next up were fried oyster and fried shrimp po boy sandwiches. A po boy is a sub or hero type of sandwich with either fried shrimp, oyster, catfish or crawfish, lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce. We ordered three of them and little remained on our plates at the end. Good soft bread and fresh fish is the key, and the po boys at this restaurant include both.

The downside of King Cajun Crawfish is the take-out paper plates, plastic forks and Styrofoam cups that everything is served in. If not that, then a plastic basket with a piece of aluminum foil as liner. In place of napkins there is a roll of paper towel on the table. The tartar sauce is served in foil packets. But then you understand it better when the check arrives looking like a math mistake in your favor. We ordered a lot of food, including beer, and the check was just under $60 for four people. Not bad in my book.

If you find yourself in the area give King Cajun Crawfish a try.

914 N Mills Avenue • Orlando, Florida • 407-704-8863 • Monday thru Saturday 11:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. Sundays from 12:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.

1 comment:

  1. The restaurant review sounds fabulous. It's a definite "must go" for anyone in the vicinity. I would say that anyone eating there will have lagniappe by the end of their dining experience. Lagniappe means "a little something extra".


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America