Who can resist fried rice with pineapple, sausage and shrimp?
Nor could we resist a restaurant that boasts “Get your fingers messy.”
It was a double feature for this dining duo.
Ben, the Herald’s social media guy, is a hipster with heartburn who can’t eat spicy food. I’m a corn-fed ex-Hoosier who doesn’t like seafood that reminds me it was a real creature at one point.
A Herald reader suggested we try The Cajun Crawfish, a Seattle eatery that opened a second location in an Everett Mall Way strip mall earlier this year.
A place with Cajun dishes, frog legs and sea snails was way out of our comfort zone, but as journalists we must be unbiased.
We went to The Cajun Crawfish shortly after 4 on a Friday. It was nearly empty. What? Where was everybody? Oh, of course, they were still at work. Not everybody gets to dine out on the clock. Several people picked up their orders for takeout to enjoy in the comfort of their home after a long work week while we luxuriated in a lazy second lunch/first dinner.
We liked the place immediately. It has a nice vibe. Light, spacious, fun. Butcher paper covers the tables, which come with a roll of paper towels at the ready (both proved vital to the experience). Food and drink specials are written brightly on a chalkboard. Our server was super friendly. Diners began filtering in, so we had to share her with others but she still kept our water glasses filled and took great care of us.
Choices abound on the Asian-Cajun menu. Sauces are Cajun, lemon-pepper, garlic butter or a boom-bang combination. Spice level ranges from none to crazy hot.
We ordered Cajun wings with fries ($6, happy hour menu), Vietnamese po boy with fried catfish ($9.99) and the boom-bang fried rice with shrimp and sausage ($10.99).
We didn’t stop there.
How could we not order a pound of gulf shrimp ($14.99)?
The shelled bodies arrived floating in a clear plastic bag. We were handed bibs and rubber gloves to take on the task of removing their armor.
The bib was emblazoned with a lobster. Baby-faced Ben looked wore it liked he owned it. I told him it should be his Tinder picture. He said he doesn’t have Tinder. I’d have Tinder but my husband won’t let me date.
As someone with a delicate palate for spicy food, Ben really enjoyed most of the plates.
Here’s what he had to say:
“Cajun fries were killer, and the boom-bang rice was incredible. The catfish po boy was great, with nice crispy fillets dwarfing the hoagie rolls they sat on, making it into more of a po boy open-faced sandwich.
“The Cajun wings were a bit much for my taste, but my roommate who later ate them clearly enjoyed them, based on the lip-smacking affirmation as he devoured them across the room.
“The real winner for me was the shrimp, and the whole experience of eating Cajun-cooked crustaceans. That meant head and shell still on. It’s a messy business, and they were perfectly cooked and delicious. I’ve been singing ragin’ Cajun’s praises since my visit, but now I’ll know my reinforced spice limit.”
I was a bit freaked out by the shrimp’s glazed eyes staring at me as I shucked its slimy torso from the shell. It was messy, as promised. My fearless family loved the leftovers.
The boom-bang rice, a jumbalaya-Asian fusion with the faint taste of anise/licorice, was the winner for me. I didn’t share those leftovers with my family.
The light and tasty po boy catfish was also delish. It came in chunk form, sans eyes.
We were not brave enough to try the frog legs and sea snails. If you are, let us know what you think.
The Cajun Crawfish
909 SE Everett Mall Way, Everett; 425-212-9603; www.thecajuncrawfish.com.
Hours: 1 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 1 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Happy hour: 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Vegetarian choices: Side dishes.
Alcohol: Beer and wine.