For all of you finicky fish heads lamenting the lack of fresh seafood in our fine city, meet the Yabby Hut, a new fish joint that opened three weeks ago at 3355 South Yarrow Street, in the former Giovanni's Italian Cafe space.
According to manager Linh Nguyen, the Yabby Hut ("Yabby" is what Australians call freshwater crayfish) is owned by a Vietnamese couple, Hung Le and Linh Tran, both avid fishermen who escaped Vietnam for the Philippines, where, says Nguyen, they "ate a lot with their hands," which is exactly what you'll be doing at the Yabby Hut, since the short board consists of things you slurp, suck or crack with your fingers.
"This is a pretty hands-on kind of joint, where you'll get to know your food without having to use a knife or fork," says Nguyen. But you will need a bib, because the restaurant specializes in crawfish served in plastic bags that you dump onto tables covered in white butcher paper. And crawfish are messy, especially when the little suckers are rubbed with a Cajun seasoning. Each two-pound bag also comes with andouille sausage, corn cobs and skin-on red potatoes.
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The menu also includes king crab legs, snow crab and blue crab, coupled with head-on shrimp, clams and oysters, Cajun-dusted fries, Cajun wings and plenty of bottled beers to wash it all down.
"We're a casual hangout where you can come in, slurp oysters or crawfish, drink a beer and watch TV," explains Nguyen, adding, too, that graffiti is highly encouraged. The dining room is surrounded by wood, most of which has already been inked with everything but profanity or phone numbers, neither of which are allowed. "We give people markers to write on the wood, but we ask that they keep it appropriate and refrain from giving out their numbers," warns Nguyen.
Instead, he recommends boasting about your accomplishments, including, for example, sucking the heads out of 20 pounds of crawfish, more or less the poundage you'll need to ingest to create a one foot high heap of tails, the amount required to get your name added to the "Craw of Fame." In fact, if you can stack the shells of crawfish, crab legs, oysters, clams or shrimp 12 inches or higher, then you'll also net yourself two pounds of crawfish or clams for free. And unlike most food challenges which insist on a solo effort, this one allows for up to eight people to take part. An easy feat, says Nguyen, who claims that several people have already conquered the challenge.
You can take part in the challenge any time during business hours, which are Monday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 9 p.m. For more info, dial 303-985-0231.