Dancing Crab
Shinjuku: Seafood
Dancing Crab (Shinjuku: Seafood)
Dancing Crab
Open 11:30am-3, 5-10:30pm (LO) daily.
Sun: Open Sundays

Despite the name, we didn't expect to see any actual dancing at Dancing Crab, but we were in for a surprise. The venue is a sprawling (136-seat) Singapore-based restaurant that serves Louisiana-style seafood. Their signature dish is a big bag of boiled prawns, crab parts and other seafood, which is piled onto a paper tablecloth at your table to be eaten with your hands.

If you're here at lunchtime the popular "crab and prawn combo bag course" runs Y2,778 per person, and includes unlimited starters. These are brought to your table on a cart, and the choices include boiled potatoes, large crunchy tortilla chips, cole slaw, ravioli-like pasta units and bread. These are also intended to be eaten by hand.

Before you eat, your waiter will lead you to the row of sinks in the middle of the restaurant, and demonstrate the recommended hand-washing and -drying techniques, which are more complicated than you might expect.

If you're not that hungry you can get a po' boy sandwich for Y1200, which includes all-you-can-eat starters along with soup and more tortilla chips. Beverages are an extra Y100. The po' boy sandwich consists of a large split baguette topped with crab cakes, greens, tartar sauce and pickles. Since it's fairly messy to eat with your hands you can ask for a fork, although the utensil you receive will actually be a spork.

While we were waiting for our meal the lights suddenly dimmed, the already loud music was cranked up several notches in volume, and members of the waitstaff performed a crab-themed dance routine for several minutes. After the dancing was over they came around and individually high-fived each of the lunchtime customers. By the way, the staff were all wearing novelty crab-claw headgear, which seems to be part of the work uniform here.

You might come away with the impression that the food at Dancing Crab may not be the sole, or even the main, attraction. Our boiled potatoes were probably the best part of the meal, while the ravioli and tortilla chips were on the bland side and would have been improved with some kind of sauce. The "cole slaw" was just thick chunks of cabbage, lightly misted in vinegar. The crab cakes were fairly average, but the soup was more interesting, tasting a bit like the broth in a bouillabaisse.

The menu expands quite a bit at dinnertime, with options like the "Premium Combo Bag" for Y16,500 and the "Fisherman Combo Bag" for Y9,800; presumably these are intended for large groups. The average dinnertime budget with drinks is around Y4,500.

by Robb Satterwhite

Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-37-12, Shinjuku Nowa Bldg. 2F.
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Venue listing from Bento.com4 Star Rating: recommended