Find Fresh Seafood at Shuckers Crab House
Fun, casual spot brings Polynesian touch to Milwaukee
Albert Yee, owner of
the Chinese carryout restaurant Pacific Orient, recently revived the Polynesian
format with a new place called Shuckers Crab House.
The décor fits the
bill for both maritime and tiki, with fishnets, a large, mounted shark, tiki
torches, palm trees and, in the center of the dining room, a fiberglass replica
of a moai (a stone Polynesian bust). Fish tanks fill the space as well, but not
just for show. They hold live menu items like lobsters, oysters, Dungeness
crabs and tilapia—the freshest seafood possible.
The menu includes
multiple influences. The Hawaiian theme naturally lends itself to Asian dishes.
Hawaii is also known for its love of Spam—the islanders are one of the world’s
largest consumers of this canned pork product—and not only does Spam appear in
an appetizer, Polynesian nachos, but also as a meat option for fried rice, egg
foo young and Singapore noodles. Though the restaurant has only been open for a
few weeks, the menu has already been revised. Expect more changes next month
when a sushi bar is installed.
It’s a shame that
the menu did away with its appetizer of spicy pickled jellyfish ($9), since so
few Asian restaurants dare to serve it. The jellyfish, which was all about the
crunchy texture, got its flavor from sesame oil and seeds, and its spiciness
from a few slices of jalapeno pepper. It has been replaced by Manila
clams ($8) and sautéed mussels ($8). The mussels, from Chile, are
black in color. They are more meaty than usual and are cooked with a very
Chinese preparation of garlic, ginger and a hint of hot red chile pepper. This
is a fine way to prepare mussels.
Also consider some
Hawaiian seafood soup ($3-$4), which offers a white broth with a swirl of egg.
The seafood includes scallops, crab and shrimp, and the flavors are delicate.
The order of gyoza ($5) seems more like Chinese pot stickers. The attractive
serving of six fried dumplings sits on a bamboo leaf in a bamboo tray. An
orchid blossom and a cup of sweetened and thickened soy sauce accompany the
dish. The dough wrappers are light in texture, not leaden.
Some of the meat
items are smoked, which replicates the effect of Polynesian cooking pits. One
such meat is unagi ($15), or eel, and another is tiki hut barbecue ribs
($12-$19). These pork ribs are large, so the smaller serving size should satisfy
most diners. The ribs are smoky in flavor and coated in a suitable dark sweet
sauce—fine eating. The island volcanic beef ($12) offers a dramatic
presentation. Pieces of flank steak with green pepper and onion arrive in a
metal plate, and then the server ignites it with cooking liquor. Ultimately, it
is just Chinese pepper beef. Malaysia
curry chicken ($12) is served the same way, minus the flambé. Pieces of chicken
breast come with the same vegetables and a mild yellow curry sauce. It is the
same as chicken curries found in Chinese restaurants.
Entrees include a
choice of two side items. Choose form Korean kimchee, fried rice, sweet potato
fries and Polynesian slaw.
The bright orange
chairs and dark green tablecloths may not provide an elegant setting, but
Shuckers is a fun, casual place. It is not a restaurant for a hurried meal, but
your patience will be rewarded with fresh kunomoto oysters, Dungeness crabs and
those garlicky mussels. This is a rapidly evolving menu, subject to change. The
tiki restaurants of the 1960s have returned.
Shuckers Crab House
7835 W. Burleigh St.
Credit Cards: All Major
Handicap Access: Yes