Henrico County VA
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‘Asian Cajun’ restaurant entry arriving

Calvin Pan (pictured, above left, with friend Mark Gibbel) will open the Crustacean Boil N' Grill in the West End

Come September, Henrico County residents will be rolling up their sleeves and strapping on their bibs for a taste of New Orleans along with some flavors hailing from the Far East.

Crustacean Boil N’ Grill is slated to open at the end of next month in the Golds Gym Plaza shopping center on West Broad Street next to Comedy Sportz Improv Theatre.

The restaurant will serve boiled crawfish, Alaskan crab, shrimp, lobster and every other wonder of the sea, but owner Calvin Pan said this won’t be your regular seafood joint.

“In Louisiana and in Houston, how they cook their crawfish is in a big boiling pot, but we are taking it one step beyond and putting Asian flavor into it,” Pan said.

Crustacean Boil will combine lemon butter, garlic, and spicy chilies into their seafood and it will be served in plastic bags. Pan has his own special seasoning called magic dust as well which is a mix of their Cajun sauce, lemon pepper and garlic pepper.

“[Customers] pick their seafood, then pick their seasoning, then pick the level of spiciness,” Pan said.

To eat the hottest of the spices – “Lava Flow” – patrons must sign a waiver agreement before receiving their meal.

“It’s a combo of cayenne pepper, Thai peppers and Asian peppers,” Pan said.

Entrees will be in the $7 to $30 range. The restaurant will have lobster delivered every three to four days and will offer jambalaya and gumbo as well.

Crustacean Boil N’ Grill will be decked out with pictures of the streets of Louisiana as well as a little Mardi Gras thrown in.

“We’ll have masks,” Pan said. “The wallpaper will be the scene of New Orleans.”

The Asian Cajun concept is slow to catch on locally, but has become extremely popular in other major cities. Pan drew his inspiration for the restaurant from his former stomping grounds.

“In the West Coast, particularly in California, there are plenty of these restaurants,” he said.

The Boiling Crab, which first opened in Southern California in 2004, now has four locations in California, one in Texas and one in Nevada. The restaurants started popping up in 2000 in Houston. The craze also has spread to Arizona, Washington, D.C. and Boston, which Pan said is why he wanted to cast his net here.

“It’s popular in those areas, and we wanted to bring it here,” he said.

There is a Red Lobster about a mile down the road, but Pan said the closest thing to what his restaurant will be doing is Joe’s Crab Shack, which is about 75 miles away.

“We’re bringing Louisiana here, we’re bringing Texas here, we’re bringing the West Coast here,” Pan said. “There’s nothing like it here.”

This is Pan’s first dip into the restaurant world. Previously, he spent 10 years in mortgage banking in Southern California before switching to his passion for cooking.

“Time to follow the dream and passion of putting food on a plate and seeing people smile,” he said.

The idea starting boiling about six or seven months ago just before Pan moved to the Richmond region, and it took about two months for Pan to find the facility in Henrico.

“I fell in love with Henrico,” Pan said. “I found the people here are very, very nice.”

Pan leased the 2,500-square-foot space, which once housed Carter American Kitchen, about three months ago. It will have seating for 102.

Crustacean Boil N’ Grill is expected to open at the end of next month.

* * *

Brookside Grill and Bar , a seafood joint, is in the process of opening on Brook Road. The restaurant plans to serve fresh seafood along with chicken, pulled pork, ribs and other comfort food. The restaurant is owned by Roger Baugher, the former chef of longtime restaurant Skillagalee which closed in June. The space was a staple in Henrico for 31 years, known as “The Celebrity Room,” before closing in 1994. It’s since been home to a number of restaurants, most recently Lucille’s Southern Cuisine which closed over a year ago.
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