Boiling Crab, a Vietnamese Cajun style chain of restaurants that has become hugely popular in Southern California, recently opened it’s first location in San Diego.

I actually never had much of an interest in visiting the chain. I had previously visited Crab Hut, a similar style restaurant, and hadn’t liked it enough to revisit. However, I was curious, and it so happened that I needed to be in Mira Mesa to do some errands and decided to check it out for lunch.

We arrived shortly before 12, which is when they open on weekends, and found a line already outside the door. Seriously? Given the fact that it was about 95 degrees outside, we sat in our air conditioned car, waited until they opened the doors, and then went in.

The restaurant has a very fun atmosphere. Walls are full of customer autographs and drawings. At the table, a fresh sheet of drawing paper is draped over the table for easy clean-up. The main focus of the menu is their steamed seafood offerings. You choose a sauce, a spice level, and you order seafood by the pound. When the food is done cooking, the waiters bring it over with a bucket, and drops a steaming hot plastic bag full of your seafood entrees onto the table.

The restaurant also offers some fried items and side dishes as well. Live seafood prices are listed on the front whiteboard.

If you plan on eating here, you should plan on getting messy. It’s all about digging in, getting your hands dirty, and breaking open the seafood shells that are smothered in sauce. Plastic bibs are provided and I’d recommend you wear them or risk getting splattered with sauce.

Crawfish with rajun cajun sauce

My mind has been bubbling with avocado recipes, trying to use up all the avocados I received recently. It was finally cool enough the other night for me to turn on my oven and I immediately wanted to make this avocado chiffon cake.

It  also gave me a chance to try out this super cute, completely unneeded, egg separator. I found it randomly on a website and then was looking everywhere for it. I could only find it on sites in the UK. In a complete impulse buy, I bought it from a UK business through ebay.

Alright, so I still have a lot of wedding posts to share, but I just got my photos back from my photographer and so let’s get to the part I was most excited for, the wedding banquet!

I knew I wanted to show all the wedding food on my blog and made sure to tell every photographer I met with that they would have to photo the food for me. I had no idea what sort of photos I wanted, poses, etc, but I knew I wanted food photos. I think the photographers thought I was a little nuts.

For our reception, we did a traditional Chinese wedding banquet. It’s something I’ve wanted since I was a kid. Surprisingly, my parents didn’t insist on it and even suggested I just do a catered American style wedding reception, but I balked at the idea. Yes I’ve been to some delicious American style wedding receptions, but nothing has really ever matched up to the elaborate Chinese wedding banquet (except for maybe the Indian Wedding Feast I went to two years ago.)

In Chinese culture, the lavish wedding banquet is a symbol of good luck and prosperity. The idea is if you throw a large celebration, the bride and groom will also be prosperous in their life together. The dinner consists of multiple courses (in the US it’s usually around 9 or 10, in Taiwan it’s around 12). Expensive ingredients are used, with an emphasis on seafood. Each dish chosen also has symbolic meaning too (though some of that has gotten lost in the US and not all of the traditional dishes are served).

Since we were having our wedding in San Diego, we had limited options. We ended up choosing Pearl Restaurant in Rancho Bernardo. You may remember I paid a visit to Pearl for the first time last year. Yup, it was to scope out the venue for our reception. I adored the beautiful park outside and the restaurant was big enough for our needs.

Our menu consisted of 10 courses total, with 8 main courses because 8 is a lucky number in Chinese culture. Most dishes represent a dragon/phoenix (Ying/Yang) theme. In a marriage, the dragon symbolizes the male role while the phoenix symbolizes the female role.

BBQ Cold Plate Appetizer

The appetizer was a combination cold plate of various meats and jellyfish that are arranged to represent the dragon and the phoenix, to symbolize the union of two creatures.

Stuffed Crab Claws

These were humongous. I’m not sure if you can tell that from the picture, but each stuffed claw was close to twice the size of a golf ball.

Seafood soup

Seafood soup contains expensive ingredients, to signify the future prosperity of the marriage. (No, shark fin was not served.)