In Dining

The King Crab Shack is opening in the former Pepi's Place location on Brady Street.

King Crab Shack's Vietnamese-Cajun seafood is coming to Brady Street

Tired of the usual pub fare and pizza on the East Side? Well, the unique, zesty hybrid of Vietnamese-Cajun seafood – not to mention live lobster, crawfish boils and crab legs in a bag – is coming to Brady Street to save you. At least, that's what signs on the former Pepi's Place storefront, 1330 E. Brady St., would suggest, as it appears The King Crab Shack will open there soon.

This would be the second location for The King Crab Shack, which features fresh, spicy and saucy shellfish – cooked up with Vietnamese flavors like lemongrass, ginger and garlic – as well as traditional dishes like fried rice and pho. The original King Crab Shack is at 3881 S. 27th St., where it offers an eclectic menu to a diverse customer base.

Pepi's Place relocated to Brady Street in March 2016, but closed nine months later. Since then, its large space – occupying both 1320 and 1330 E. Brady St. – was converted into two separate storefronts. The 1320 address is now Fro Zone, a Thai-rolled ice cream joint, which has been incredibly popular, often with lines out the door, since opening earlier this month. But the 1330 address has had a hard time keeping tenants, as Pepi's, The Philly Way and Miss Groove Limited have all come and gone there over the past few years.

So, what exactly is this whole Vietnamese-Cajun mashup? It's an emerging culinary trend, according to The New York Times, derived from the many Vietnamese immigrants who fled Indochina after the Vietnam War. Many of them ended up in Louisiana and around the Gulf Coast, where they incorporated their tastes into the seafood that abounded in the area. Restaurants started opening, then spreading across the country, including chains like Hot N Juicy, and eventually Milwaukee.

Eating at The King Crab Shack is interactive, hands-on and no-frills. It's also messy, which is why you get a bib.

Ordering is a five-step process. First, you choose your seafood, such as crab legs, crawfish, Dungeness crab, mussels or lobster. Next, you pick a sauce – garlic butter, lemon pepper, crazy Cajun or a mix. Then, you select a spice level, ranging from non-spicy to mild to medium to crazy. Don't forget sides, which include corn, sausage, potatoes and more. And, finally, you dig in, bib on, and enjoy a deliciously different dining experience.

A look through the windows at 1330 E. Brady St. reveals there is still a lot of work to do inside, which is bare and clearly being significantly renovated. There are no details yet on when the restaurant will open, but it appears to be months off.

OnMilwaukee will have more information on The King Crab Shack as it becomes available.

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