Seafood boils aren’t easy to find in Los Angeles (with the exception of mega chain Boiling Crab), but there’s a new player in town coming to the heart of Old Town Pasadena. Crackin’ Kitchen, slated to open on March 30, will introduce Cajun cuisine infused with Hawaiian flavors to a spot near the intersection of Colorado Blvd and Arroyo Pkwy.
Originally from Waikiki, this will be Crackin’ Kichen’s second restaurant in the United States. The menu was developed by Michelin-starred chef Takeshi Omae who in recent years has worked alongside Iron Chef legend Masaharu Morimoto.
At Omae’s Crackin’ Kitchen, you can start with items like poke, Lomi Lomi Salmon salad, grilled oysters, seafood platter, mussel pots or a Maui Onion salad. Those looking for something more substantial can try the Guava Chicken Wings, smothered in a tangy sauce and tossed with Hawaiian macadamia nuts for added crunch. There’s also Chowder Fries, perfect for sharing and picking at during the meal. Drinks are colorful and sweet, with options including Hawaiian cocktails like Pele, Kauai Colada, and the Hawaii Blue. Most people, however, will probably come for the boils.
The featured attraction includes lobster, shrimp, mussels, clams and other seafood, ordered by the pound, brought to the table in plastic bags and dumped onto the table. You get plastic gloves and bib for your convenience (you’ll need ’em).
Diners are instructed to choose a seafood combo or ala carte item (all are served by the pound), pick a signature sauce from three options, decide on a spice level and select a few side dishes. The most important decision in my opinion is the sauce. White is made of Maui onions and lemon butter it is mild in flavor and suitable for those who absolutely cannot eat spicy. Red is Crackin’ Kitchens signature Cajun sauce made with Hawaiian chili. Then there’s the black sauce, made of Hawaiian cacao and cracked black pepper, it’s sweet, spicy and complex. The black sauce reminded me of the caramelized sauce from Cá Kho Tô a traditional Vietnamese Braised Fish in clay pot dish. If you enjoy mole on the sweeter side you’re going to like this one.
A meal at Crackin’ Kitchen comes with a show if you have room for the two-person dessert. . Your server literally makes an edible drawing on your table covering almost the entire area with colorful sauces and sugars creating a rainbow, palm trees and waves for dipping. This food-art combo includes sourced fruit plus Hawaiian Malasadas, a Portuguese pastry made of egg, butter and milk fried and rolled in sugar
Crackin’ Kitchen is located at 115 E. Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena. The grand opening is will be at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 30. All Dine-in Guests on opening night will receive $20 Gift Card, according to the restaurant’s website. Regular hours (starting March 31) are Monday –Friday Lunch: 11:30 a.m. –2:30 p.m. Sunday –Thursday Dinner: 4:30 p.m. –10 p.m. Friday & Saturday Dinner: 4:30 p.m. –11 p.m. Saturday & Sunday Brunch: 11 a.m. –4 p.m. .