More fried chicken, anyone?
Why not! This time I am crossing over to Melbourne city, and one of the places I am dying to check out is Dr Juicy Jay’s Fried Chicken & Crab Shack lies within The Public Bar, a stone throw away from the Victoria Market in North Melbourne. Dr Juicy Jay’s is definitely more well known for their crab boil Cajun style, but their fried chicken is pretty darn good too! Rumour has it that this place can get real busy after work hours and they usually run out of crabs by 8 or 9pm. So to avoid disappointment, we arrive at Dr Juicy Jay’s Crab Shack at 6.30pm and ready to get messy.
Born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, brothers Will and Mick Balleau are bringing the bold American Southern Cajun flavours to this part of the world. Dr Juicy Jay’s is their second venture since opening Chingon Cantina y Taqueria that also comes with a taco truck. This two-brother team is definitely onto something here; crab boil is definitely not common in Australia and I am not surprised that they could be the only one who is doing it.
The Public Bar is actually pretty small in size, a few booth seatings tucked in the corner and a communal table next to the pool table in the middle of the floor are all already been taken when we arrive. Also, the dimly lit setting inside the bar with a red glowing ambience is absolutely food blogger’s nightmare, we eventually settle ourselves down at the bar seating along the window with some better lighting casting from the candles, pinball machine and from the kitchen.
The menu here is short but sweet, apart from crab boil and fried chicken, there are also fried soft-shell crab, shrimp boil and sides of corn dog, buffalo wings and cobb salad. We order one crab each and pay a little extra for an extra side of dipping sauces and white bread to mop up the sauce. It takes no time for the food to arrive; our friendly waitstaff brings two takeaway boxes and an inch stack of serviettes, she says we will need it. She also kindly offers us toothpicks so that we can pick the crab meat out from the claws.
We eagerly flip open the takeaway box to reveal a bright blushing red swimmer crab with an overwhelming spices aroma. Traditionally the crab is boiled in a stock heavily seasoned with Cajun mix of herbs and spices, together they will also throw in corn cobs and potatoes into the pot. Some restaurants in US have also improved the flavours by putting the well-seasoned crab inside a plastic bag along with the vegetables then seal it to create a vac bag before boiling it.
Blue swimmer is always more fiddly to eat than a muddy, but there are still white juicy sweet meat aplenty on the big claws and on its body. We do find the crab is a little lack of seasoning (more salt please….), but the herbacious Cajun spices sure sends me to the deep south, feels like I am dining at Merlotte’s in Bon Temps. Corn cobs are also swimming in the addictive sauce, where juice flies and splatters when I sink my teeth into it. We happily soaking up any last drop of the sauce with white bread, even if is a tad oil, we simply don’t care.
Of course we also order some fried chicken to share. Claimed to have 21 herbs and spices in these golden fried chicken, but don’t bother to guess it and Juicy’s secret recipe ain’t gonna be shared either. I know I love Mary’s, but these are just as good; the meat is amazingly juicy and not dry, and I am surprised I still able to taste the sour buttermilk marination amongst a heavy load of spices. What more could be better than dipping this crispy fried chicken into the tangy buttermilk ranch sauce? Yes you can, by adding waffles for extra $5, I was tempted, unless it comes with maple syrup; I refrain myself from ordering.
Now, only we have boil crab in Sydney.
Dr Juicy Jay’s Fried Chicken & Boil Crab
238 Victoria Street
North Melbourne VIC 3051
Ph. 03 9329 9888
Open 7 days, 5.30 – 9pm