Shrimp with the heads on. That was the one requirement for my sister, Amanda’s birthday dinner with me in the city. It’s an oddly specific request, and one that needed to be filled. A simple Google search for this type of a delicacy is not the simplest feat, but fortunately FourSquare came to the rescue.
We made our way through the streets of Chinatown, past numerous bizarre food stands and lines for Sample Sales until we finally arrived at our destination. The Boil stuck out like a sore thumb.
The Boil specializes in New Orleans style Crawfish boils, mixing other shellfish into the namesake dish. The restaurant is slick, with a simple, clean store front. The inside sporting a slight New Orleans theme, but in a far from tacky way. It’s comfortable, with a really cool, yet stern hostess at the front keeping the order of the restaurant.
The place is cash only, with a strict “no adding people to your party” policy. Everyone must be there, and no one can spontaneous show up. And oh yeah, cash only.
When you walk in, you immediately notice the bibs and bright blue gloves digging through giant plastic bags to find the treasures inside. We made a quick pit stop at my bank’s nearby ATM and came back, stomachs grumbling.
We were seated shortly after, with our menus and our own pair of bright blue gloves. The waitress helped tie bibs around our necks, making us fit in with the rest of the crowd and fully prepared to dig in. Appetizers to start was a must, before we got to the main event.
I’ve never seen a girl love sauce more then my sister. So when the BBQ Shrimp Basket arrived, she immediately requested a spoon to drink the sauce straight.
The BBQ sauce was unlike any other variation I’ve seen, with fresh herbs and a really light consistency. It’s absolutely ridiculous, with the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. It’s fresh, and delightful coating the perfectly cooked shrimps. We devoured these.
On the side of the Shrimp we ordered the Papaya Mango Salad which is definitely the freshest and most veggie friendly dish on the menu. It paired insanely well with the flavorful shrimp, giving an amazing contrast in flavor and temperature.
So light and refreshing with the ribbons of fruits retaining their crunch, while absorbing the sweet vinaigrette. Just order this and you will be so happy, and feel less bad about the bag of seafood slathered in butter and spices about to come to your table.
We ordered the Boil combo containing Crawfish, Shrimp, Corn and Potatoes. You get to pick your sauce, which we decided to go with the Boil Special which combines garlic butter, O’Bay and lemon pepper. You also pick your spice level; we opted for medium which turned out to even be insanely spicy. They don’t skimp at all in NOLA.
1 pound shrimp, 1 pound crawfish, a whole lot of awesome. Absolutely no utensils are given, forcing you to put on your gloves and just dig in. This most definitely not the kind of place for those who are afraid to get a little bit messy. I’d never had crawfish before, which tasted like a sweeter mini lobster. The spice built with each and very bite, causing us to slow down a few pieces in. Wash it down with a cold refreshing beer, then go back in. There is no milk here, don’t ask, you gotta be a champ.
This is an insane amount of food, so we had plenty of leftovers to bring back home to the folks, blue gloves included. It’s an awesome place, specializing in serious seafood. It’s a super fun place, where getting dirty is encouraged. The food is great, and it definitely doesn’t break the bank. So the next time your sibling has the craving for shrimp with the heads on, you know exactly where to go.
The Boil – 139 Chrystie Street – New York, NY
Location: Lower East Side, NY
Type: Cajun, Seafood
Perfect For: Impressing Foodies, Quality Seafood, Cheap Eats
Reservations: Not Available
Favorite Dishes: BBQ Shrimp Basket, Mango-Papaya Salad, Crawfish & Shrimp Boil