Article By Jin and Francis
Zhong He Square, Qu Jiang Chi Site Park
(029) 8550 5577
10:00am – 11:00pm
Average Price per Person /人均消费: 200RMB
Finger-licking goodness just in time for summer
If you had any doubts despite the sunshine, 30+ degree weather, and rapid proliferation of outdoor seating, let us reassure you that summer is finally here. And what better way to welcome summer than with savory finger food and cold beverages?
We are of course talking about Cajun Seafood, a new spot that opened this April. Before we get into food, we must first address the important question: what is Cajun? It is a style of cuisine originating on the southern coast of the United States. Usually associated with the great state of Louisiana, it is a fusion of West African, French, and Spanish influences and tastes. Usually, it features a spice mix that includes paprika, cayenne pepper, and a mix of other spices and sometimes brown sugar or molasses. They have six different flavors, designed to accommodate any kind of palate demand. These include “The Whole Shebang”, “Rajun Cajun”, “Garlic Sauce”, “Black Pepper”, “Sweet Spicy”, and “Lemon Pepper.”
There are two menus – one for food and one for drinks. Each has a healthy selection, including seasonal seafood, a smorgasbord of fried goodies, craft brews, and freshly squeezed juice. For drinks, we got off to a strong start with a hoppy England Hazy IPA, followed by a flowery Osmanthus Weissbier, and ended with a chocolaty Coffee & Milk Stout. Fresh, cold, and full of flavor, the beers didn’t disappoint. We would be remissed had we not also sampled their sangria, which is safe to say, is a delightfully refreshing fruity red wine creation. If you feel like venturing into the mixed drinks arena, we tried the black velvet, a lighter and sweeter offering.
After we placed our order, a waitress wheeled over a vertical paper dispenser and ripped off a large sheet. It was at this point we knew it was going to be good. Traditional crab shacks don’t mess around with tablecloths. A large sheet of disposable paper covers the table with a massive napkin dispenser on one end. For those too squeamish to dirty their hands, a plastic glove dispenser is also on each table.
Onto the best part – the food started arriving. Seasoned fries with ketchup and a highly authentic tartar sauce arrived first. Next were the fried oysters with a durian dipping sauce. One of their most popular menu items, Francis liked the oysters a lot and despite what is normally an extreme aversion to durian, found the bright yellow sauce palatable.
Next we tried Cajun-seasoned abalone, Dungeness crab, and Irish snails. These are each lightly boiled as is traditional to retain the fresh ocean flavor. Once cooked, each seafood item arrives at the table in a large plastic bag full of the seasoning you previously requested. You can eat out of the bag for a cleaner, less immersive experience or you can unceremoniously dump the contents directly on the table and dig in directly with your hands for a more authentic experience. What are you waiting for? Dump it on the table already! All of the seafood was incredibly fresh – each pulled live from a tank at the side of the restaurant. The Dungeness crab was especially flavorful – with giant chunks of meat and large claws that we pried apart with the scissors we were provided.
The most interesting flavor combination, however, was on the crawfish (according to Tim, my friend with deep Louisiana roots, this is the only acceptable pronunciation, and don’t embarrass yourself by saying something like “crawdaddy”). The restaurant has a special fusion of Mala and Cajun that they use – a kind of mix of the Cajun spices with traditionally used Chinese spices like Sichuan Ma pepper, ginger, and star anise.
Cajun Seafood lives up to its promise delivering a fresh, accessible, and highly unique take on traditional Louisiana-style Cajun cuisine. Occupying the street corner northwest of Qujiang Lake, this restaurant stands out. There is a massive neon crab on the wall, a spotlight-illuminated stage next to the bar, and the interior is defined by bright red furniture. Live music starts around 7:30PM from Wednesday through Sunday. Patio seating wraps around the restaurant. If you prefer the outdoors, best to call ahead to reserve.
Jin and Francis are both teachers in Xi’an and love exploring food. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and francis@xianease