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Feb 19, 2013 10:30 AM

The Boil -- new Cajun-style seafood place on the LES

I wandered by this place several weeks ago before they opened and made a mental note to return. My wife and I went last night, and it was fantastic -- fabulous boiled crawfish and peel-and-eat shrimp served in a zesty old bay boil. We also tried the oyster sliders, which were simple, but excellent: large, plump oysters nicely fried and served with a smidge of mayo and slaw on a Martin's potato roll (why anyone would use any other roll for a slider is beyond me). A welcome addition to the NYC dining scene.

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  1. you liked it?

    it was pretty bad when i went a couple weeks ago, we got the crawfish and shrimp with the special sauce which was a mix of old bay, garlic butter and lemon pepper (this was recommended by the staff). the crawfish and shrimp were hugely overcooked where they were kind of falling apart, but not in a good way. the sauce was also really really buttery like sort of in a gross way. i wasnt going to write about it bc i didnt feel like shooting them down (i rarely write about stuff i dont like)

    the oyster sliders were alright, they tasted fine although they were too batter-y like its was mainly just batter

    maybe it was a fluke bc i think it mightve been the first night they opened, but it was pretty bad

      1. re: hazelhurst

        Oh HH, forgive the Yankees. I may have to give this place a try for a crawfish fix just to tide me over before I have a few sacks shipped up to boil.

        1. re: roro1831

          I am trying to get in touch with a Tulane alumnus hanging around manhattan and send him over. he took me to a place back in the 1980s, over on the lower west side, that was trying crawfish boils (about the time Prudhomme was becoming A name). They used Zatarain's but they had a hard time bouncing to extremes..almost no "zip" and sometimes "thermo-nuclear" (too hot seems to be the present trend around here.

          Sems to me that if you are going to use Old Bay (which a friend of mine derides as "celery salt") you ought to spell it "crayfish."

          1. re: hazelhurst

            Well hopefully they don't put spices on the outside after the boil, if that's the case I would walk out. Lol

      2. A word of caution: for those who expect this to be like what you had growing up in Breaux Bridge, or St. Martinville, or Houma, you're going to be disappointed. For one, you just can't recreated those experiences from your childhood. Every see anyone from Philly compliment a cheese steak outside of Philly, or someone from Buffalo who found wings that approached what they love at home? It just doesn't happen. Second, although I found these critters to be mighty tasty, they're not done in authentic Cajun fashion. It's not zaterain's, it's their own seasoning mix. And I do think it's added after the fact. So while I do encourage you and your friends to go, I also encourage you to expect that they won't satisfy your craving for the tastes of home. But I did find the bugs themselves to be decent sized and well prepared, and the seasoning to be tasty. I do think if you go with the right expectations, you'll enjoy it!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Blumie

          Fair enough--I am often trying to impress upon visitors that standards of judgement for several new Orleans places are no what you'd apply to Per Se. Too often a place is criticized for not being something it isn;t trying to be.

          We did do a boil in New York years ago that was "just like home" but it was a production.

          1. re: Blumie

            I wasn't expecting what I grew up on or what I can do on my own. For me the fun of boiling crawfish is the whole production, picking up the live crawfish, getting everything set up, people coming over and drinking the while time whe I boil the crawfish. Everyone does it there own way, even back home.

            I may venture over and give this place a try as I am curious about how they are prepared, but no matter how they do it, putting seasoning on after the fact is a crime in my book. The crawfish should soak up the seasoning, it should not be all over my fingers so that my fingers are what is spicy.

          2. This reminds me of some mini-chain restaurants you can find in Texas (Austin or Houston), usually named the Boiling Crab or the Boiling Pot or whatever. So perhaps "faux cajun for the masses."

            The Boiling (insert noun) are places where you get a bib, a mallet, and eat with your hands, and seafood is dumped all over the table. Messy, fun, and family friendly. Does that sound what the Boil is trying to do?

            7 Replies
            1. re: kathryn

              are you takling about the asian places (usually in vietnamese areas)?

              like this place:

              its the same concept except the execution was way off

              1. re: Lau

                Yup, that's basically it. My experience w/ it wasn't particularly Asian or in an Asian neighborhood since I first had it in Texas (where the Boiling Crab chain is from).

                Are they giving out bibs? Are NYers wearing them?!

                1. re: kathryn

                  they gave us a bib, we wore them

                  i think the place is actually owned by some cantonese guys as there were a big contigent of them there kind of running around the place like they owned it and im pretty sure they do

                  i associate Boiling Crab with asian areas bc in LA and OC in CA its hugely popular in Little Saigon (viet, korean and chinese) and the SGV (chinese and viet). always a line etc, i used to like it alot when i was younger, but i havent been to any of them in CA in a while

                  1. re: Lau

                    Thanks for confirming. Given the location I was thinking Asian Cajun like in Orange County, San Jose, the San Gabriel Valley and Las Vegas. Surprising it took this long to finally get to New York.

                    1. re: Lau

                      I guess we can call it Casian!
                      Also, regarding all the comparing to Louisiana food.
                      There are some great restaurants in Louisiana, especially NOLA, but there are more bad ones than good ones. So many overrated.

                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                        The same can be said for any city or state, but if you are from there and grew up on certain things they hold a special place, some people not from there may not get the love for that particular food. Case in point the poboy, most people from New Jersey that I know that have visited NOLA do not like the poboys because of the bread, not dense enough for them but I love that bread.

                        1. re: roro1831

                          Yep , i hear ya,, i happen to like poboys ,, and I love the muffuletta at Central Grocery. Well this is the Manhattan board so, I won't go on and on about good and bad places especially in NOLA. I'll check out the Boil and see how it compares.

              2. I dropped by there recently -- pretty popular spot. Ordered some shrimp, clams, lobster and fries (plain, not Cajun). Definitely something similar to Boiling Crab out in Texas/California. I actually liked it a lot, preferring this to Boat House in Brooklyn. The sauce was pretty tasty with plenty of garlic and butter, but on the milder side compared to Boiling Crab. Their "medium" is probably equivalent to Boiling Crab's "mild" so order accordingly. The woman next to me wanted some extra hot sauce as it wasn't spicy enough for her (I overheard her -- she's been to Boiling Crab).

                Prices are higher than at Boiling Crab but I'm sure the rent is a lot more in NYC. My only issue was that the lobster was soft-shelled and not super tasty for me. But that's more of an issue with what's seasonal vs. the restaurant.

                I'll be back and happy to have found an Asian-Cajun crab boil place in NYC.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Miss Needle

                  did u find it like really buttery? we didnt like it, but i think i went like literally the first day or two they were open...maybe i need to try it again

                  which flavor did u get?

                  1. re: Lau

                    Not overtly buttery -- similar to Boiling Crab. I got the same sauce you ordered, medium spice. I preferred The Boil over Boat House because Boat House's sauce wasn't buttery enough for me. Perhaps I really like butter.

                    I generally don't eat at restaurants when they first open because I feel that most of them need some time to work out the kinks. My clams and shrimp weren't overcooked. My lobster was slightly overcooked in the tail part -- I think it's because the the meat was so shrunken to begin with as they were soft-shelled. Soft-shelled lobster meat also tends to be softer and I prefer my lobster with a bit more of a bite. So I think that's why I wasn't as keen on the lobster.

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      its literally a 2 min walk from my place, so ill give it another go