“Asian Cajun” is taking seafood to a whole new level at Submarine Crab, a new eatery located in the Pointe at Wellington Green.
Owner Tai Le is fusing his Vietnamese roots with Louisiana-style seasoning, hoping to make a big splash in the Wellington area. It’s his second South Florida location of Submarine Crab.
“This type of food has been around for 10 years. It started out in California, which is where I’m from,” Le said. “Because I go back and forth, and we live here, we always noticed the real lack of flavorful seafood, because the traditional model for seafood is, you boil the seafood, steam it and dip it in butter. For us, it’s just not flavorful. So, that’s where this type of concept came about.”
The Cajun seasoning and the sauce are what make all the difference, Le explained. “Typically, in Louisiana-style seafood, you hear of seafood boils. We do that as a first process, and we can serve it that way like Louisiana, but we sauté it first in our sauces. It’s really our sauces that differentiate us versus what traditional seafood is,” he said.
Everything is made with a blend of garlic butter and a variety of seasonings, all at different spice levels. The torpedo sauce is hugely popular.
“Our lemon pepper, our classic Cajun, our torpedo sauces are all Cajun-based sauces,” Le said. “It does have cayenne in it, so it does have a little bit of spice. Those three sauces come standard as mild, and then we can spice it accordingly.”
The seafood takes center stage. Always live, never frozen. “Our most popular items would be our shrimp, as well as our snow crab,” Le said.
The crawfish at Submarine Crab comes from Louisiana during season, which runs from December to about July. When crawfish season ends, they get it from a farm in California.
“Because we are Louisiana-style and Cajun-based, crawfish is something that we really focus on. There’s not a lot of places that do crawfish,” Le said, adding that fresh crawfish tastes much better than frozen. “If we can’t get it fresh, we don’t offer it.”
Food is served up family style with three combo meals to choose from, with samples of all the different offerings, designed to suit any seafood lover’s palate. All come with a choice of clams or mussels.
Combo number one also includes shrimp, crawfish or both. Combo two includes shrimp or crawfish, as well as a choice of lobster tails, Dungeness crab, snow crab or king crab. Combo number three — the biggest of the combos — comes with a little bit of everything, including two pounds of snow crab legs.
“Typically, a customer will eat one pound of seafood. Combo one or two are three pounds. That will feed two to four people. Combo three could feed a family of four,” Le said.
All combos include sausages, corn, potatoes, hard-boiled eggs and bread. “It’s a good counter between the sweetness of the corn and the savory sauces,” he explained.
You won’t see a “market value” on the menu. All seafood is priced.
“We want to offer a very fair price for what we do. Although the price of seafood continually goes up, we’ve absorbed a lot of the price increase, because we want to be sure that we’re offering a reasonable price,” Le said.
Side dishes vary from traditional hush puppies with a hint of jalapeño peppers, to Cajun fried rice and crab Rangoon with a twist.
“We put crab meat in with fried shallots. All made in-house. We use our honey mayo dipping sauce, which is the same as we use for our wings. It gives it a sweet taste with a kick,” Le said.
Other traditional Cajun dishes include gumbo with okra. Also, seafood pasta with a Cajun-based sauce. There’s a selection of po’ boy sandwiches, from shrimp or catfish to oyster or sausage — all served up with a side of Cajun fries.
“Most po’ boys come with lettuce. We use cabbage instead. It tends to have a better texture because it’s crunchier. With our po’ boys, it’s all about our sauces,” Le said. “Sauce is everything.”
To wash it all down, there are “Ocean Fog” specialty drinks that come complete with a foggy effect. They’re a fusion of Asian green tea mixed with flavorful jellies and basil seeds for texture. Dry ice is added to give it a fog mist. Teas come in three flavors: the Mermaid, a passion fruit; Captain Andy’s, a strawberry green tea; and the Seahorse, which is mango flavored.
There’s even a soapy treat for your hands when you’re done digging in.
“We developed a whole hand wash to remove the garlic smell,” Le explained. “Instead of using a wet nap, you use suds to wash your hands, and the fragrance helps to remove the garlic smell.”
Le’s first Florida location is in Pembroke Pines. His location in Wellington opened Aug. 1 and already has quite a following. This is the fourth location in all, including two in California.
The 80-seat restaurant offers eat-in or take-out, where the food to go is triple-bagged to prevent breakage.
Originally a pre-med student, Le and his business partner, a chemistry major, stumbled into the restaurant biz. Something that he feels is working out well. “For us, whatever we do, we really pour our energy into it, to make sure it’s successful,” he said, adding that they strive to regularly get feedback, and tailor the menu to meet customers’ needs.
Submarine Crab is located at 10140 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Suite 170, in the Pointe at Wellington Green. Hours are Monday through Friday from 3 to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. For more information, call (561) 355-0533 or visit www.submarinecrab.net.