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The Burning Crab



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There’s a new restaurant in Magnetic city (Ao Cheng), called The Burning Crab. If you like seafood, this is the place for you. As I walked into the restaurant I felt like I was stepping onto a ship, about to head of on a journey of discovery, and how right I was. All around you are life rings in case you go overboard, and big thick ropes wrapped around thick wooden poles. The type you would expect to find on an old wooden ship, sailing up the Yangtze River. Plenty of seating space available, and you can also sign your name on the wall beside your booth. All over the walls you can read the names of people who have gone before you.


          Should you be worried that you won’t get in on a busy Saturday night, up on the top deck of the restaurant are more tables. No stress, they’ve got it all covered. The owner John Ji even has a mascot, as all sea-going restaurants should. Her name is Jason.


         As you take in the atmosphere you’ll notice a very American theme. They have all 50 states’ licence plates on the walls, alongside pictures of famous American actors and actresses. They also have TV screens around the restaurant, so while you eat and have a beer, you can also catch up with you favourite American TV show.


            There’s even a large shark on the ceiling of the top deck of the restaurant. It’ll give you a bit of a fright at first, but it wont eat you. You’re not the one on the menu tonight; tonight you’ll be able to choose from a wide range of crab and lobster, cooked with a very special sauce brought over from America by the owner, who states it’s the best sauce he has every tasted.



         Eating the food in this restaurant is nothing like you have experienced before. Firstly, there are no chopsticks or knives or forks. You have to use your hands. Yes, you heard me correctly, your hands. You will get a shell cracker to crack the shell of your delicious crab or lobster, but the rest is up to you and how skilled you are at pulling the food apart to get to the succulent meat. After you have gotten to the delicious crabmeat, you can then dip the it into the secret sauce and enjoy. Now, I will have to admit that the meal sounds messy, but actually it is a lot of fun. You have a bib or napkin tied around your neck so as to protect your clothes from the cacophony of shell, meat, and sauce.


          Imagine you and your partner or friends eating this way. You can see how exciting and how much amusement you will have and the most important thing is, well, the food is simply delicious. It is also reasonably priced if there is a group of you. You can get two kilos of crabmeat for 588 CNY, which can serve 3 to 7 people.


          When I spoke to John Ji, I asked him why he chose Tianjin. John replied that he realised that Tianjin is the new kid on the block. He felt that the young people of the city were open-minded and wanted to experience the positive aspects of what the West had to offer, food being one of the more enjoyable experiences that the West has to share. His experience in America, where he lived for the last fifteen years, convinced him that Chinese people would love to have the same experience. As such he sought to bring that experience with him when he came back to China. When living in New York, John was fortunate enough to meet another Chinese expat, who had worked in similarly themed crab shack restaurant, and had knowledge of preparing American-style seafood. The dream was to bring this great and exciting dining experience to the people of China. One can only imagine that The Burning Crab will be coming to your community soon. Enjoy and remember that messy is the new ship shape.


By John Doyle

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