Spiciest Dish in Columbus Series: Kai’s Crab Boil
No need to be crabby, just grab that OMG heat…
We’ve been trying to stagger wing and non-wing locations each week and this week is no different. We headed off to the wondrous world of Kai’s Crab Boil to dump some spicy seafood on a table.
Kai’s Crab Boil has been open for almost two years at this point and seems to be a crowd favorite. Walking in at 4:30 on a Saturday afternoon the place was already packed. We were able to snag the last table and started looking around to get our bearings. Customers were adorned with bibs and gloves and were cracking shells like there was no tomorrow.
When you walk in you’re immediately hit with the heavy spice mixes typically used to cook the Louisiana-style seafood boils. It’s pleasing and not overpowering, so things were definitely off to a good start. Our waitress came by and explained the simple rules of the “signature boil” game. Pick your shellfish, choose your add ons, pick your flavor and choose your heat. On top of the signature boils they have three primary combos: The Gulf Combo (1lb mussels, 1lb shrimp), The Pacific Combo (1lb snow crab legs, 1lb shrimp), and The New England (1 lobster, 1lb snow crab legs). Our friend Jalapeño Joel had joined us for this adventure so he and I opted to split The Pacific Combo.
The main attraction for us and why we were at Kai’s for our spiciest dish series was the OMG heat level. When they first opened, Kai’s only had mild, medium and hot heat levels, leveraging a cayenne base and some crushed red pepper. We asked what was in the OMG and the waitress mentioned that on top of extra cayenne and crushed red pepper, habanero powder was used to crank it up a notch. Joel was slightly hesitant, but decided to go for it.
Another feature is the Kai’s Kajun seasonsing, an awesome blend of cajun-style seasonings with a garlic butter base. We used that as our flavor and added potato, corn and sausage to our combo. The lady of the farm went in a different direction and grabbed the Fried Favs: Hand-breaded Shrimp Basket with fries. We’d never gone the spicy seafood route, so we weren’t quite sure what to expect.
All of the boils come out in a large plastic bag and some are great for dumping onto the table, but our waitress warned that with shrimp and the OMG heat level, it’s better to just pluck from the bag. Noteworthy, we got our shrimp shelled and de-veined, because who has time to pick out the shrimpy poop chute. Kai’s Kajun seasoning hits you immediately and you get a nice waft of garlic, butter and awesomeness. Armed with metal tools we got cracking and started plowing through the bag.
Starting with the crab legs, the meat is tender and easy to remove, but due to the shell, doesn’t pull in much of the heat of the habanero and is best when dipped back into the bag or into a side cup of seasoning. We’re no seafood experts, so we ended up watching videos on how to correctly crack crabs while we ate them (we’re still pretty bad at it).
The shrimp are much more simple, but packed with the heat of the habanero powder. Kai’s Kajun seasoning is still the main event, but the habanero powder definitely gives it an extra kick. Cooked well, the shrimp still had a bit of pop as you bite into them and the rich flavor shines all the way through.
The potato, corn and sausage were excellent as well, each of them tender and easy to get through. The potato is a bit hefty so splitting it up a bit and tossing it in the spices would be our recommendation. Above you’ll see all the seasoning that’s left and how much it clings to the shrimp.
If you’re looking for heat alone, we definitely recommend going with only shrimp at the OMG heat level with Kai’s Kajun flavoring. The shell of the others make an impenetrable heat shield, but is heat really why you’re going to a place with shellfish?
Having officially gone through almost 20 of the spiciest dishes in Columbus, we’re starting to get a decent feel for where things are placed on our list. Thinking only about the shrimp at the OMG heat level, we’re putting Kai’s at #12, above Satori Ramen’s Kara Kapow and below Woody’s Wing House 5th Degree Wings. It’s a heat that will bring some sweat to your brow and could be too much for some, but to those on the spicy trail, this is an excellent “I need a break from dying” heat. Flavor is spectacular and the atmosphere and messiness makes this a fun spot to continue heading back to.
The lady of the farm also enjoyed here fried shrimp basket, so there’s definitely something for everyone at Kai’s. Most of the combos and shellfish come at market price, so don’t expect it to be Long John Silver’s cheap, but overall it seemed pretty reasonable from a price standpoint.
You can find Kai’s Crab Boil at 839 Bethel Rd, Columbus, Ohio 43214 in the plaza off of Bethel with Northwest Spirits and Micro Center.
Look below for more in our spiciest dish in Columbus series and hit us up if you have any suggestions that are not already on our list!
Hello spicy traveler, try our sauces!
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