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8 Great Soft Shell Crab Dishes with Asian Flair

While often associated with Maryland (and its score of molting blue crustaceans), soft shell crabs are equally popular in Asia; where their wholly edible, seasonally available, tender-bodied shellfish of choice is the mangrove.  So even though NYC teems with Eastern seaboard-style eats — such as lemon-spritzed soft shells on potato rolls — come spring, you’re just as likely to find iterations inspired by the Far East!  From Talde’s Vietnamese bun cha with crab to Nom Wah Nolita’s underwater bao, dusted with Chinese Old Bay…

Nom Wah Nolita

Nom Wah Nolita
10 Kenmare St
Nolita,New York 10012
(646) 478-8242

A tad more contemporary than its 1920’s-era dim sum progenitor, this self-service eatery offers Chinese Old Bay-speckled soft shells, slipped into steamed bao buns along with ramp and watercress remoulade.

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Fung Tu

Fung Tu
22 Orchard St.
Chinatown,New York 10002
(212) 219-8785

In addition to producing puffy bao sandwiches (anointed with pimenton mayo, pickled red onions and cukes), Fung Tu substitutes truffles for soft shells in their own, seasonally-inspired supplement; allowing patrons to add fried crabs to any dish, for a mere $8.

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Bessou

Bessou
5 Bleecker St
Bowery,New York 10012
(212) 228-8502

Loosely translated to “Second Home,” Bessou serves up modernized Japanese comfort food such as Soft Shell Crispy Rice; a bed of caramelized grains crowned with deep-fried crabs, and dappled with shishito and pickled spring onion relish.

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Talde

Talde
369 7th Ave
Brooklyn,New York 11215
(347) 916-0031

Known for fiddling with a wide range of Asian cuisines, the irreverent Talde hones in on Vietnam with Soft Shell Crab Bun Cha; a platter of tempura battered crustaceans, paired with herb salad, crispy pork spring rolls, vermicelli noodles, and spring greens.

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Madame Vo

Madame Vo
212 E 10th St
East Village,New York 10003
(917) 261-2115

Not only does this admired, East Village newcomer specialize in pho, you’ll find all manner of entrancing Vietnamese offerings like Cua Lot Rang Muoi; salt toasted soft shell crab cloaked in avocado sauce.

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Tuome

Tuome
536 E 5th St
East Village,New York 10009
(646) 833-7811

Flash-fried Soft Shell with sprightly herb sauce is a regular spring addition to Tuome’s appetizer roster, and you’ll even find a scale down version on weekends, as part of a festive dim sum progression.

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Brushstroke

Brushstroke
30 Hudson St
Tribeca,New York 10013
(212) 791-3771

David Bouley’s high-end Japanese kaiseki scores a two-fer with their delicate Soft Shell Tempura, featuring another spring delicacy, ramps — incorporated into a powerfully flavored, cornstarch-thickened sauce called ankake.

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Great N.Y. Noodletown

Great N.Y. Noodletown
28 Bowery
Chinatown,New York 10013
(212) 349-0923

Adored amongst chefs for its night owl hours (open until 4am) and its rock-bottom prices (most of the massive menu can be ordered for a song), the spread at this truly great Chinatown mainstay extends far beyond noodles; think Salt Baked Soft Shell Crabs, which have been a sought-after, seasonal treat for decades.

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