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Dish: Shrimp po’ boy at Crawfish Shack Seafood

crawfishpoboyI’m happy to report that the menu at Crawfish Shack Seafood has expanded in a most delicious way. Since early December owner Hieu Pham has been serving a full roster of po’ boy sandwiches at this tiny, spic-and-span seafood market and restaurant on Buford Highway. The list ranges from American cheese ($5.25) and french fry ($5.50) varieties, but most come filled with fried seafood. I was tempted by grouper ($8.99) and crawfish ($9.99) but decided to go with the classic shrimp ($8.99).

I don’t claim to be an expert on the intricacies of density, crunch and squish in a properly prepared po’ boy — I’ve probably eaten no more than a couple dozen in my life — but I will say this is a seriously kickin’ sandwich.

Why? Details, details:

  • The shrimp: Sweet, tender, crunchy and so carefully shelled that the tapering wisps of meat once in the tail are intact and fried to a crunch.
  • The bread: From Amoroso’s Baking in Philadelphia, these crackly rolls are sturdy in all the right ways.
  • The remoulade sauce: Pham says it took him two months to perfect the tart-creamy flavor and delayed-reaction slow burn of seasoning. Not only is it excellent, it’s not too salty.
  • Add: Lettuce, tomatoes and pickles, and you have the kind of sandwich you want to take to a private place and devote your full attention to.

crawfishnuocmiaBy all means, wash down the sandwich with a chilled, foamy cup of nuoc mia ($3 small, $5 large) — fresh sugarcane juice that Pham presses in a noisy contraption as you wait. The two together makes for a strange kind of perfection.

35 comments Add your comment

Matt

December 16th, 2009
8:11 am

Ahhhhhhh, DAMN YOU KESSLER, you make me want to schlep all the way to Buford Highway for lunch. I must have one of these NOW!

Phil

December 16th, 2009
9:57 am

Mr. Kessler – I ran across one of your columns for the first time, today. I live in Connecticut and after now having read a couple of your columns, I wish you lived up here and reviewed MY local restaurants. You’re a credit to the Atlanta-area restaurant scene. Nice job.

M. Johnson

December 16th, 2009
10:37 am

If only they served stronger beverages!

Darin

December 16th, 2009
10:38 am

These po boys sound great — but I’m almost afraid to try them. So many of my fave spots in town for po boys have strangely gone out of business soon after I discovered them. Why do good Cajun & Creole lunch restaurants have such a hard time staying open in the city? I still pine for Gumbo a Go Go. Oh well, I suppose I have no choice but to go fall in love with these sandwiches too. Hopefully Crawfish Shack won’t break my heart and close in five months.

JIMBOB

December 16th, 2009
12:34 pm

Has anyone tried the boiled stuff from Southern Seafood on Lawrenceville Hwy? I was reading about both places a few days ago after buying some fish there. Supposedly their boiled crawfish/mussels are excellent.

John Kessler

December 16th, 2009
1:24 pm

Matt – Tell me what you think
Phil – Really appreciate the comment. Thanks
MJ – Hip flask?
Darin – They’re not going anywhere.
JIMBOB – Been meaning to try that place, but I have my weird superstition about it. I had a car accident right in front of it.

reservoirDAWG

December 16th, 2009
4:14 pm

Thanks Kessler. This is good to know. Where on Buford Hwy is this spot?

Ex-Tulaner

December 16th, 2009
4:14 pm

Still hunting for the best Atlanta Po-Boy! Consider this at the top of the list and a second to Matt’s comment… Hungry NOW!

Brill

December 16th, 2009
4:15 pm

JIMBOB, I buy seafood there all the time, didn’t notice they sold food ready to eat. Will have to be more observant. Southern Seafood is in the heart of what us locals growing up called “Pea Ridge”.
Dang, now I am hungry for a PO-Boy !

reservoirDAWG

December 16th, 2009
4:23 pm

Ex-Tulaner, I’ve searched all over this city for a great po boy and still haven’t found one. Where is your favorite?

JIMBOB

December 16th, 2009
4:29 pm

Brill,
I’ve seen or heard the area referred to as ‘pea ridge’, but was never sure why. I think I’ve passed under a ‘pea ridge’ street but it was way south of Dekalb.

You may have to call ahead or wait a few minutes for the cooked seafood. I’m curious to try it. I saw some people eating at a table inside, and I guess that they were eating shellfish cooked on site. I heard about it from some folks on the ‘yelp’.

Brill

December 16th, 2009
4:33 pm

You woulda thought that after Katrina we would have more New Orleans style food in Atlanta. One – because people who maybe know how to cook it would open a place here to get back on their feet. And two – all the people who stayed here and didn’t go back would want some to eat as well. I was thinking there was supposed to be an honest to goodness PoBoy shop in the Old Fourth Ward area, but can’t remember the name ?

Brill

December 16th, 2009
4:35 pm

JIMBOB,

Thanks for the tip.
Yea, I have lived in that area since 1963 and have no idea why it is called that at all ! Just thought it was kind of funny. The Waffle House by the Rehoboth Baptist Church had “Welcome to Pea Ridge” on their sign for awhile.

oldtimer

December 16th, 2009
4:41 pm

All this makes me hungry..I will try this place.

da Judge

December 16th, 2009
4:46 pm

The best Po Boys and oyster bar in town are at Fontaines in Va-Highlands. Awesome..Just like walking into the French Quarter. Plus, they have seating on the porch out back for pretty weather.

The Truth

December 16th, 2009
5:22 pm

My wife’s family is from New Orleans and my wife went to college there. With that being said, she loves the Po Boys at PARISH. Those are the only ones that she has found that don’t have too much breading on the shrimp, have lots of seafood, are properly “dressed”, and the seafood isn’t greasy. I will have to take her to try this place on Buford Highway.

Brill

December 16th, 2009
5:29 pm

Where is PARISH ??? Have to know !

DecaturCyn

December 16th, 2009
5:33 pm

Do I have a weekend Po Boy pilgrimage plan? Check!

SteveO

December 16th, 2009
5:37 pm

daJudge

I’ve always found walking into Fontaine’s is just like walking into an approximation of cajun food in Va. Highlands. It’s especially lacking in the area of the oysters themselves. They’re too small and they don’t have that fresh taste that you can only get near the ocean. I don’t blame them for it, but they’re definitely not anything like the French Quarter I know.

Kristin

December 16th, 2009
5:39 pm

My husband is going to curse you later! I am pregnant and I want that Shrimp Po Boy in the worst way (romaulade-YUM). Looks like my husband is going to be making a trip to Buford Highway

Fred

December 16th, 2009
6:19 pm

Amen SteveO, Fontaine’s isn’t half bad, but they sure as hell don’t serve what I call a Po’boy. Last time i was there (maybe 2-3 month’s ago) all four of those tiny little oysters were way overshadowed by that big loaf of whatever bread (weren’t no po’boy bread that’s fer sure). Their regular fried stuff was good when I’ve had it, but that po’ boy was a huge disappointment.

Beyond the Bayou had good po boy’s but they moved then closed. The Depeaoux was good at first, but then they either cut WAY back on their amount of product or their manager lied to me on the phone and said they did once when my wife got me a takeout. Before that I thought they were great.

A few years ago I would have questioned a cajun dish from a Vietnamese guy, but that was before some damn Portuguese Yankee form up Nawth somewhere’s became the end all and be all of Cajun cooking (Emeril). I reckon of a Yankee can storm Nawlin’s and conquor the cooking, then the door is wide open for anyone else lol. I guess that tomorrow or Friday i have to cruise over and check Hieu Pham’s fine cajun cuisine out. Like Darin, I find that the places that actually have authentic Cajun food seem to dry up and blow away……………….. although the Ettoufee at Front Page news is pretty darn good…………

John, i am so jealous of you. I can’t think of anything better than to GET PAID to try different places out. You must be ashamed to sometimes to get paid to have so much fun……………

Kathy

December 16th, 2009
6:23 pm

for the true New Orleans flavor – go to Logan’s Market on Windward!

Lance

December 16th, 2009
6:45 pm

The best place in ATL for Shrimp Po-Boys is AJ’s Seafood and Po-Boys in the Kroger shopping center in Marietta/East Cobb on Roswell Road just outside the 120 loop.

Lynn

December 16th, 2009
8:42 pm

For something really special get the Lobster PoBoy at Spondivatts. I have had it several times at the Spondivits in Cumming. They also have great oyster and shrimp PoBoys. The original Spondivits is near the airport – maybe Virginia Avenue. They also have steamed buckets. Bar is separated from family dining. Some nights entertainment too.

I have to also mention Norman’s Landing on 141 (Peachtree Pkway) in Cumming Exit 13. They have really good seafood! Good, good oysters! They have a salad that you can get fried oysters on that is so, so good. They have been in business quite a while.

Lynn

December 16th, 2009
8:43 pm

sorry – just realized that I did not correct the spelling of Spondivits!

Kevin

December 16th, 2009
9:36 pm

I second the nomination for AJ’s. Their po boys are truly great. I usually get the half-and-half shrimp and crawfish with a bowl of dark-as-tar gumbo.

Colman

December 17th, 2009
8:21 am

I am from Louisiana and I would have to agree that AJ’s in Marietta is the best place for po’boys. They are the tastiest and the most authentic. I have also been to The Big Easy (Voted Best Cajun by several Atlanta Publications) and was not impressed. Their roast beef lacked flavor.

Louis Prima

December 17th, 2009
8:57 am

I’ve not yet tried the po boys at the Shack, but have been there 4-5 times based on Dr. Kessler’s original review…it’s a quality place for sure. The #3 (fried grouper shrimp combo w/ two sides is a great dish for seven bucks and some change). One word of caution, they close up shop @ 7pm so go early for dinner. The family that runs the place is very friendly and engaging.

TAPrice

December 17th, 2009
9:38 am

That looks really good, but it looks nothing like a po-boy.

I’m not talking about the bread, which looks too dense. I’ll spot them the bread, because a true New Orleans-style French loaf is hard to find.

What wrong is the way it’s cut. You would never get a po-boy served with the bread on either side of the filling. It’s always sliced through. One piece on the bottom. One on the top.

Does it affect the tast? Nah. Does it really matter? Probably not. It’s just how everyone does, and you might never notice it until someone outside the culture doesn’t do it. I’ve always thought that’s what truly defines a culinary culture: all those little things that people do just because that’s how it done.

amber

December 17th, 2009
1:27 pm

i know it’s not seafood, but the roast beef po boy at aj’s is awesome. get an extra side of gravy .. heaven!

tboo

December 17th, 2009
1:55 pm

Beware of Asian seafood!! I’m from South Louisiana and all my life I was warned of the unsanitary conditions of farmed seafood from the far east. I’ve seen local news reports all my life showing how dirty and polluted the waters are there. They have to dump drum loads of antibiotics in the ponds just to combat the disease and sewerage. Shrimp, crawfish and crabs are seasonal foods. If you’re getting these year round, they probably aren’t coming from American waters and definitely have been frozen. Just because it tastes good doesn’t mean it’s good for you. I bet I can make a dog turd taste good if I put enough spice on it. We have two coasts, Atlantic and the Gulf, within driving distance. Why do we need to get seafood from the other side of the planet? Beware. Be safe. Eat good. Eat smart. Know where your food comes from. Support your American fishermen…Eat locally caught seafood.

Shack fan

December 17th, 2009
2:14 pm

Just back from my weekly visit to The ‘Shack and tried a Po Boy…it was yummy, but I am MUCH happier with a pile of dem shrimps fresh from the coast, yummmmmmmy! That spicy boil they put on them is to die for! JK thanks for telling the world about all these great spots on the BuHi! I Love it!

John Kessler

December 17th, 2009
2:47 pm

Fred: It is definitely a fun job.
TAPrice: very interesting comment. It really is all the little things that define a food culture.
tboo: The owners are American of Asian descent, they are using Gulf and Atlantic seafood.
Definitely have to try AJ’s.

Brookhaven Mike

December 17th, 2009
4:24 pm

Glad to see that the Shack has poboys. We have been buying our shrimp and oysters from the shack and then frying them at home to make our own poboys. We use the small baguettes from Lees Bakery for bread and wash it down with an ice cold Barqs rootbeer in the bottle. Almost like being in New Orleans!

Laverne

December 17th, 2009
5:41 pm

Tboo, I am so happy JK cleared up the seafood’s origins. If he is sooooo picky about ground beef, I believe him. The sickest I ever got in my life was from calamari ( hospital stay – no fun- mucho $$$) so we can’t be too careful. Also, Tboo, and/or Jk – how can we be sure, other than catching the seafood ourselves ?