Deep-sea Diving for Edible TreasuresAli Carte Columns
January 5, 2014
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo
Here on our lush island oasis situated in the bountiful waters of the Pacific, Hawaii diners are no strangers to amazing seafood. From fresh poke and lomi lomi salmon to sushi and sashimi, we’re exposed to la creme de la creme of ocean goodies on a daily basis. It doesn’t get any better, right?
Well, actually, it does. Oahu’s patrons just became even more spoiled with the introduction of a Southern seafood tradition that’s giving diners a whole new way to enjoy treasures of the sea. It washed ashore last June in the form of Cajun King restaurant at Waimalu Shopping Center.
As a sister company to Lobster King in Honolulu, the new eatery has proven to be another haven for fresh seafood selections. Cajun King specializes in seafood boils to be exact, one of the Southern United States’ gifts to the culinary world.
“A seafood boil is a mixture of different types of seafood with a choice of seasoning and choice of spice level, all in a big bag mixed together,” explains co-owner and manager Tony Siakkhasone Lai.
All the fun begins when these expansive bags of freshly boiled crustaceans and more arrive at your table, as there are no plates or utensils to use. Instead, your hands become deep-sea divers, reaching in to pick out prime bites of goodness.
“It’s a very hands on experience; half the fun is enjoying the food and the other half is how you enjoy the food — the bibs and gloves,” adds Siakkhasone Lai.
To try a diverse range of the establishment’s offerings, start with the Cajun King Special Combos, which present a variety of seafood and are served with red potatoes, two pieces of corn on the cob, four morsels of Portuguese sausage and rice. You may customize your combo by selecting one of the Cajun-inspired sauces as well as the level of spiciness.
Siakkhasone Lai suggests Combo No. 4 ($48) in particular with its mix of crawfish, mussels, shrimp, clams and ever-popular snow crab legs. When Ali-Carte stopped by, every ounce of seafood, meat and veggies were gloriously smothered in Lemon Garlic Butter sauce, a flavor pairing made in heaven for the juicy, steaming hot seafood.
Equipped with bibs and gloves, guests are highly encouraged to make a fabulous mess. But for those who prefer less of a mess, Cajun King’s Fried Baskets are satisfying options. Fried Catfish ($10), for example, is a Southern favorite that consists of moist catfish fried to order in a house-made batter. The plump pieces are served on a bed of regular or Cajun fries.
Cajun King’s lunch specials also provide delicious, bib-free options. “The lunch special is mostly (for) people who are on the go and don’t want to get messy or have to go back to work,” explains Siakkhasone Lai. Salt & Pepper Shrimp Lunch Special ($8.99) is catered to island palates and wins over diners with crispy bites of local-style shrimp and white or fried rice on the side.
In addition to an exciting menu of seafood-filled eats, Cajun King boasts a spacious interior that’s perfect for hosting large parties and private events. If you plan to host a big gathering, Siakkhasone Lai suggests calling ahead of time to make a reservation and pre-order.
Waimalu Shopping Center
98-020 Kamehameha Hwy., Aiea
11 a.m.–10 p.m. daily