A Craving for Crayfish
Here's where to find those mudbug critters that populate gumbo, po' boys, fried platters and more.
“And when there was no crawdad to be found, we ate sand.”
According to The New York Times and other sources who should know, there is a crayfish (or crawfish, or crawdad, mudbug, crawlfish or crawdaddy) craze in China, so much so that Chinese crayfish producers can no longer supply their traditional market, European importers selling to the rest of the world and America. Crayfish, originally imported from Louisiana in the 1920s to feed bullfrogs (themselves a food fad—see frog legs and frogskin chips), are now the hip meal for Chinese millennials—to the tune of more than $3 billion a year. The frenzy has captured the popular imagination so much that the largest region for crustacean farming, Hubei province, erected a Guinness World Record-holding 59-foot-long crayfish sculpture weighing 100 tons.
Fortunately, you don’t have to travel to China to participate in the fever. Here are some places much closer to home where Louisiana crawdads are readily available (in season, of course):
King Cajun. Owner Ha Nguyen flies fresh crawdads in season from Louisiana for her gumbo, po’ boys and fried platters. 914 N. Mills Ave.
LA Boiling Seafood Crab & Crawfish. Platters of blue crab, shrimp, snow crab legs and those head-sucking-worthy mudbugs. 1242 E. Colonial Dr.
Hot ‘n Juicy Crawfish. A nationwide chain born in Las Vegas, serving very large po’ boys and “The Drool.” a platter of crawfish, shrimp, sausage, snow crab and Cajun calamari. 7572 W. Sand Lake Rd.
New Orleans Cajun Seafood. Two pounds of crawfish, corn and potato for $12.50 … yeah, you right! 5503 W. Colonial Dr.
Rockin’ Crawfish. California chain that somehow popped up in Orlando. Crayfish, shrimp, clams and mussels by the pound, in a seafood boil or fried. And fried Oreos for dessert. 5040 W. Colonial Dr.
* As I mentioned in a previous Savor, September 29 marks the 15th Anniversary Gala of Norman’s restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando. Joining Chef Van Aken will be Michelin star and James Beard Award holder Carrie Nahabedian of Chicago’s Naha; Top Chef’s Edward Lee; chef, author and TV personality Ming Tsai; and our own Melissa Kelly (Primo).
* It’s not exactly food news, but Wally’s Mills Avenue Liquor (scene of many an after-dinner dénouement) closed on Tuesday morning. A sign was posted on the door, spotted by a Twitter user and relayed to Orlando Weekly, that thanked the community for 64 years of business. Several people could be seen still drinking at the bar at the time.
Got some tips for dining around Orlando? A question about the best places for your favorite food? Send me a note. Stay in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and access a comprehensive list of my print and online reviews here!