Pickin' Crabs at Mai, Eden Center, VA
Restaurant Mai at Eden Center has become an all-crab restaurant with only eight items on the menu. The proprietor, Troung, seems to be very serious about his crabs.
Although he advertises only AYCE crabs ($20 for adults, $10 for kids), we got a dozen for $24. That's about $8 cheaper than Captain Pell's. We watched as he took the crabs out of their box and put them in the pot. 30 minutes later, voila, a very hot batch of steamed crabs. We got them with no spice, though you can get them with cajun seasoning.
He also made a fresh pitcher of limeade for us. Plus we ordered crab fried rice for $6. Not much crab in the rice, of course, but it hit the spot.
Other items we didn't try are crab (in the shell) sauteed with ginger, garlic and lemongrass ($18), same thing with herbs and tamarind - a sour version ($18), crabmeat soup with vermicelli ($6), cha gio with vermicelli ($6), twin 5oz. crabcakes ($15), and crab imperial with rice and salad ($15).
The plusses here are no waiting or reservations, and it takes care of the crab pickin' withdrawal at an affordable price. Of course, no boisterous tavern or wharfside ambience, but the quality did show through. Said he is getting his crabs right now from the Hampton area.