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Dish Spotting: New York’s Best Soft Shell Crab Dishes

soft shell crabsRamps are so last week.  So we’ve moved on to our other favorite, fleeting, super-seasonal ingredient: Soft Shell Crabs.  (We get excited just thinking about them!) Soft Shell crabs refers to blue crabs that have been removed from the water as soon as they molt (thus preventing any further hardening of their shell), the entire crustacean can be eaten; save for its mouth, gills, and abdomen.  Super tender and utterly sweet, they’re absolutely scrumptious sautéed or (even better) deep-fried.  And while we’ve never met a soft shell crab we didn’t like, we’re rounding up some of our very favorite restaurant dishes around — from the Everything Spice-Crusted Crabs at Delicatessen to Marc Forgione’s Soft Shell Crab Tempura at American Cut and the Soft Shell Ramen Burger at Dassara.

American Cut

American Cut
363 Greenwich St
Tribeca,New York 10013
(212) 226-4736

Instead of a thick breadcrumb crust, Marc Forgione batters his soft shells in a lighter-than-air Tempura at his Tribeca steakhouse, American Cut, swiped with a tangy, preserved Meyer lemon remoulade.

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Colicchio & Sons

Colicchio & Sons
85 10th Ave
Meatpacking District,New York 10011
(212) 400-6699

Tom Colicchio recently instituted a small plates only menu at his restaurant, so be sure to order the Soft Shell Crab special to share — simply sautéed, and flavored with fresh fennel and toasty, vibrantly-colored saffron.

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Bodega Negra

Bodega Negra
355 W 16th St
Chelsea,New York 10011
(212) 229-2336

Executive Chef Michael Armstrong is taking his soft shell crabs south-of-the-border at Bodega Negra in the Dream Downtown hotel; deposited in Tacos along with creamy guacamole, shredded lettuce and chipotle aioli, or piled into overstuffed Tortas with crunchy chipotle slaw and guacamole on a cushy potato bun.

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Dassara

Dassara
271 Smith Street
Brooklyn,New York 11231
(718) 643-0781

This quirky Brooklyn ramen shop is collaborating with the shellfish purveyor, Aqua Best, on Asian-style seafood boil pop-ups, held throughout the summer.  But since soft shell crabs will only appear for a few short weeks in spring, you’ll want to visit now for the Soft Shell Ramen Burger topped with arugula, or the Soft Shell Crab Basket, containing crustaceans flavored with lime leaf, togarashi and chili oil, and served with seaweed tempura.

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Grand Central Oyster Bar

Grand Central Oyster Bar
Grand Central Station
Midtown East,New York 10017
(212) 490-6650

They’re making a big deal of soft shell crab season at Grand Central Oyster Bar, which means you can expect to see them on the menu from now through September.  Their current, not-to-be-missed soft shell dish features Fried Maryland Jumbo Soft Shell Crabs, served over cheesy grits with mushrooms, applewood smoked bacon, and tasso ham-corn sauce.

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Blue Water Grill

Blue Water Grill
31 Union Square W.
Union Square,New York 10003
(212) 675-9500

There’s a duo of soft shell specials at this classically elegant restaurant, steps away from the Union Square Greenmarket.  Try the Japanese Soft Shell Crab Maki, with avocado, cucumber, tobiko and stone crab sauce, or an ultra-American Soft Shell Crab BLT, layered with lettuce, tomato, applewood smoked bacon, and ramp tartar sauce.

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Racines

Racines
94 Chambers St
Tribeca,New York 10007
(212) 227-3400

Chef Frederic Duca is currently offering Soft Shell Crab as an appetizer; coated in tempura batter, seasoned with lemon jus and pimento d’espelette, and served with black garlic aioli, green salad and pickled ramps.

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Delicatessen

Delicatessen
54 Prince St
Nolita,New York 10012
(212) 226-0211

The Soft Shell Crab Sandwiches at this elevated comfort food eatery have serious NYC attitude; rolled in “everything bagel” spice, topped with pickled onions, and finished with a bacon and chive “schmear.”

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