Joe’s Stone Crab (Miami)
For months I had been planning our big two-week trip to Patagonia. The night before we were scheduled to fly out, our flight was cancelled due to Winter Storm Nemo. Noooooo! We spent hours on the phone that night (mostly on hold) with airlines and travel agents and, to our relief, were able to book an early morning flight out of the disaster zone and to Miami, where we would have an 8-hour layover before our flight to Buenos Aires. Crisis averted - yay!
Our minor hurdle might actually have been a blessing in disguise, because we were able to get out into the city and visit one of our favorite spots in Miami: Joe’s Stone Crab. While the restaurant itself was closed by the time we got there, they have a casual take-out joint next door that stays open between lunch and dinner service, and a nice outdoor area where you can enjoy your crustacean grub. Perfect.
No point yapping about the sides (they’re fine, typical steakhouse-type sides), let’s move on to the crab! ATO ordered the soft-shell crab sandwich, and we should have known based on the price that it wouldn’t be anything special. Just a whole lotta friedness, and just OK.
My crab cakes were much better (but also much more expensive). Very little carby filling and a lot of crab. But I like my crab in crab cakes nice and big and chunky (it keeps the moisture in!); the crab here was a bit too shredded up for my taste, and I found the outer seasoning a bit overpowering. Better, but still not amazing.
And so we come to the famed stone crab itself. These are the medium sized claws. And yes, they are worth coming here for. Tender, juicy, sweet and with a hint of the ocean. Absolutely delectable. And doesn’t require nearly the amount of work that a Maryland blue crab requires. In fact, they are a little too easy to pop down, especially at the exorbitant prices!
Gratuitous close-up shot. Just look at that big white chunk of crab calling your name! It sure is making me salivate…
Now that we’re all out of the house and out of their hair, I think my parents are “dating” again. They take weekend trips to NY, DC or Cape Cod, dine at nice restaurants in Philly, set out on day hikes in nearby trails and fly out to exotic places for extravagant vacations…. who knew they could have so much fun without us??
My mom emailed me at the start of the new year and told me she and my dad were coming to NY. It wasn’t a question - like, hey are you guys around this weekend, we’d like to come to NY to see you - it was more just informational. They were coming, and we could meet them if we wanted. They even had the entire weekend planned already! My dad (who like me, is a bit obsessed with food and researching food) wanted to go to Imperial Palace in Flushing, first, to try their famous dungeness crab with sticky rice, and second, because (as he would repeat numerous times throughout their visit), it had been decades since they had last been to Flushing (my parents lived in NY for a few years in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s (that’s why I was born here!)). So it came to be that ATO and I belatedly celebrated the new year and feasted with them in Flushing!
At my request, we ordered a serving of Peking duck. Not usually high on my list of priorities at a Chinese restaurant, but I tonight I had a craving. A very typical Peking duck was served to us - I’ve definitely had worse, but I’ve also had better. My mom agreed that it was tasty, but ”cū” - meaning unrefined, or coarse in Chinese - compared to the delicate and brilliant version she had just the previous week in Beijing. Probably a bit of an unfair comparison, but you get the point…
Fried lamb chops! Surprisingly good (especially given the description and accompanying picture on the menu). Super flavorful, with some nice crunch added by the fried garnish.
Eggplant casserole with chicken and seafood. To me, this was the best dish of the night. Eggplant at Chinese restaurants is often compromised with too much thick, gloppy overpowering sauce. Not the case here. You could actually taste the eggplant (roasted so that it just melted on your tongue), the tender chunks of chicken and the light musk of the seafood. Absolutely delicious!
Finally, the main event, the reason for our journey: the dungeness crab with sticky rice, steamed in river leaves and dressed in chopped scallions. Crab essence seeped into every crevice of the hot, fragrant rice. This wasn’t an easy dish to eat though - you had to work to get the juicy pieces of meat from the shells buried throughout the dish. Only complaint: a bit sheisty on the crab!
Ambiance: typical Chinese restaurant. Casual, crowded, fast-paced and loud. The service is a bit brisk and uncordial. It’s exactly what we’d expect!
Yelp page: http://www.yelp.com/biz/imperial-palace-flushing (no website)