Experience Hawaiian Cajun Seafood @ Crackin Kitchen - Pasadena

HAWAIIAN-CAJUN SEAFOOD? IT'S AS DELICIOUS AND FUN AS IT SOUNDS! 
Find it at the new Crackin' Kitchen restaurant in Pasadena!


I've always been a fan of cajun food so when a new restaurant opened just it's very first location in continental United States, more specifically, California! Crackin' Kitchen is a Hawaiian-Cajun fusion seafood restaurant that combines cajun flavors with the spirit of Hawaii. It's first location ever is of course in Hawaii (Waikiki) and the restaurant wanted to bring some of that spirit over to the continental states. I think Pasadena is a great start for their first location over here since downtown Pasadena is just poppin` with cool places to eat and a lot of foot traffic. Also, there aren't many cajun restaurants in that area so Crackin' Kitchen will be able to offer their Hawaiian inspired food to the masses.

Disclosure: I was invited as media to have a complimentary first taste and preview of the restaurant. All opinions are my own though, because you know how I like to keep it real for y'all.

I was curious to taste this Hawaiian inspired cajun food. I'm very familiar with other cajun boil places such as The Boiling Crab, Kickin' Crab, and others of the like. But upon my first glance at the menu, I noticed that the concept at Crackin' Kitchen is totally different. And also, there is no crawfish here!










red sauce

white sauce (my fave)

black sauce




UNIQUE SAUCES, YO!

Crackin' Kitchen has very unique sauces that uses all-natural ingredients including Cacao Beans, Chili Peppers, Onions and Ginger. The menu is all carefully developed by chef Takeshi Omae, who is a Michelin Star chef!

Here are the three sauces used for the seafood boils:

  • Red
    • Crackin' Kitchen cajun using Hawaiian Chili
      • I personally didn't think it was spicy at all but had a nice flavor. But note that I have a high tolerance for spicy food
      • I'd say this is probably the closest to those Boiling Crab / Kickin Crab cajun flavors but much more creamy and light. I wouldn't mind taking this Crackin' Kitchen Red sauce and adding it onto pastas. Yummm
  • Black
    • Hawaiian Cacao Beans & cracked black pepper
      • Tasted deep and rich probably because of the cacao beans. Reminded me of like chocolate mole sauce from Latin cultures with black pepper. 
      • This personally wasn't my fave (although the other guests at my table liked it) because my taste buds wanted to associate the sauce more with meat rather than seafood, so it was a strange combo for me. Strange, but interesting 0___0
  • White
    • Maui onion with non-spicy lemon butter
      • My favorite sauce out of the three! Usually, I tend to favor spicy flavors over anything else at cajun flavors but found this sauce to be addicting. I loved the creaminess from the lemon butter and how the citrus-y lemon helped to tone down the sharpness and sweetness of the onion flavor.
      • I really enjoyed letting my shrimp, sausages, crab, and corn swim deep in this sauce because it was just too good. It made the seafood all creamy and citrus-y and refreshing. YUM!
      • If I were to go back and order an entire seafood bag for myself, I'd definitely get the White sauce again!

Choose one of these sauces for your seafood! You can get the seafood boils in combos or individually a la carte. Here are the prices:

SEAFOOD COMBOS
  • ULTIMATE COMBO | $78
    • Signature Dish
    • Includes: shrimp, clams, mussels, corn, potatoes, andouille sausage and snow crab. Served with all three signature sauces from STEP 2. Serves 2-3 people.
  • SHRIMP COMBO | $40
    • Includes: 1-1/2lb. shrimp, clams, mussels, corn, potatoes, and andouille sausage. Choice of 2 sauces from STEP 2. Serves 2 people.
  • LOBSTER COMBO | Market Price
    • Includes: shrimp, clams, mussels, corn, potatoes, andouille sausage, and one whole lobster. Choice of 2 sauces from STEP 2. Serves 2 people.
  • DUNGENESS COMBO | Market Price
    • Includes: shrimp, clams, mussels, corn, potatoes, andouille sausage, and one dungeness crab. Choice of 2 sauces from STEP 2. Serves 2 people.
A LA CARTE
  • SHRIMP/LB | $16
  • CLAMS/LB | Market Price
  • SNOW CRAB/LB | $36
  • KING CRAB/LB | Market Price
  • WHOLE DUNGENESS CRAB | Market Price
  • WHOLE LOBSTER | Market Price



MUSSEL POTS

Not only do they do the typical shrimp + crab + sausages + corn stuff, but they also have mussel pots. This is very unique because actually, the Hawaiian location doesn't even offer this on the menu yet! So it's totally a new thing at their Pasadena location. You get an entire pot of freshly cooked mussels in various sauces (soup?!) of your choice. (These sauces are different from the seafood boils mentioned above).

Here are the different sauces / soupy flavors for the mussel pots:
  • SIGNATURE | $18
    • A delicious mixture of Crackin’ Kitchen signature sauces
  • CLASSIC | $14
    • Garlic, white wine, celery, shallots, parsley, lemon
  • PACIFIC RIM | $14
    • Chili, lime, basil, cilantro, kaffir lime leaves, onion, ginger, garlic, white wine
  • PORTOBELLO | $17
    • Mushroom medley, garlic, butter, onion, cream, beef stock, parmesan, parsley
  • TRIO SPECIAL | $5
    • Upgrade your mussel pot with the addition of shrimp and clams +5
  • AMATRICIANA | $18
    • Fresh tomato, bacon, garlic, onion, tomato sauce, white wine
  • BISQUE | $18
    • Shellfish stock, butter, cream, white wine, parmesan, basil
  • THAI | $16
    • Coconut milk, lemon grass, coriander, kaffir, fish sauce, chili, ginger, garlic
  • KENTUCKY | $18
    • Bourbon, bacon, garlic, onion, celery, chicken broth, prune
Portabello Mussel Pot

Portabello Mussel Pot

Thai Mussel Pot


Review of the Mussel Pots
At the media dinner, I got to try two flavors of the Mussel Pots: 

I don't know why I am calling it sauce, but it's actually more of a soup. You get a pot full of mussels and I mean FULL OF MUSSELS! This should be shared with 2-3 people.
  • Thai
    • I really enjoyed this but I also love Thai Curry a lot. This reminded me of Thai Curry but a much much thinner version. I loved scooping the soup into the mussels shell and slurping it all up. It was aromatic from the leaves and much lighter tasting than the Portabello.
  • Portabello
    • This is richhhhhhhhhh in flavor and I am so not kidding. If you are a portabello fan, this one's for you. Everyone at my table preferred Portabello over the Thai - everyone. Not only is the soup itself very deep and rich in mushroom flavor, but there are many sliced up pieces of portabello as well. Every mussel will have portabello pieces in it for that extra mushroom goodness. 
    • Yes, I really did enjoy this, but after awhile, the deepness and richness of the mushroom taste (like the mushrooms are so juicy that I'm drinking those juices) sorta gets tiring. Which is why I ended up liking the Thai soup better.

Guava Soy Wings with Macadamia Nuts

seafood platter on the left!
Ahi Poki with nacho ships and taro chips

Clam Chowder Fries with Bacon and Cheese


REVIEW OF THE OTHER FOOD WE GOT!

SEAFOOD PLATTER |  $45
a platter including oysters, ahi poke, shrimp cocktail, lomi lomi salmon, and snow crab, all served on ice
Review: Everything tasted super fresh. The oysters, whichever they had that day, was the small but flavorful kind (maybe kumiai?). The Ahi Poke was super good and was served with Taro Chips! Overall, this is a good sampler starter for a group of people, but if you don't care for it and know exactly what you want, I'd say, spend more of the $ on the actual entrees like the seafood combos and mussel pots since $45 for this seafood platter can break the bank.

CHOWDER FRIES | $9
French fries and mashed potatoes drenched with a hearty chowder topped with bacon and cheddar
Review: I thought these could be better. I loved how the fries still kept it's crispy texture but the lack of actual chowder was disappointing. It felt more like I was eating mostly plain fries because there wasn't much chowder to dip them in.

GUAVA SOY CHICKEN WINGS | $12
Crispy wings tossed in tangy guava soy sauce and Hawaiian macadamia nuts
Review: These are amaaazing. I love chicken wings! And I am also a huge fan of soy sauce flavored wings. I couldn't taste the guava too much but the soy flavor was apparent. The crunchiness of macadamia nuts added a nice touch to the overall wing.

DESSERT | $12
The dessert is super fun and interactive. If you're here at the restaurant already, might as well order this to get the full experience. Basically, a staff will be bringing out a new sheet of wax paper to cover your table. The staff will have a "palette" of sauces and use that to draw a delicious rainbow! Then, some ocean blue powder (sugar) will be sprinkled to create a picture of waves! Malasadas (Hawaiian donuts) and freshly sliced fruit will be placed on different parts of the drawing. It's honestly amusing to watch the entire thing. After the show is done, dip the malasadas and fruit into the rainbow sauces!







OVERALL: I would definitely come back here because it's different than all the other places. Hawaiian-cajun seafood is definitely much harder to find and a rare experience in the area, so why not? Get that white sauce! Get those mussel pots! The one factor that would make me hesitant to come here often is the price. This place is definitely more expensive but I think it's worth to try at least once to find out if it's yo thang or not.

Address to Crackin' Kitchen:
115 East colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91105

Phone:
(626) 714-7227

Hours:
Mon-Fri Lunch 11:30AM-2:30PM
Sun-Thur Dinner 4:30PM-10:00PM
Fri & Sat Dinner 4:30PM-11:00PM
Sat & Sun Brunch 11:00AM-4:00PM

Crackin' Kitchen Links:
Website | Menu (with prices!) | Instagram | Facebook



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