“What the hell is a Creole restaurant doing in White Center?” Growing up in White Center under the umbrella of Asian American cuisines taught me to rely on Pho to nurse a hangover, suck around the tapioca balls in the bubble tea, and never ask what’s in that Egg Roll after you’ve eaten it. The idea of serving Southern Creole here didn’t feel right to me, but I couldn’t have been more WRONG.
Hiep Ngo, friendly owner and crawfish king of White Center’s Crawfish House keeps things simple and doesn’t want anyone to mistake his for a fusion style restaurant. “We’re not trying to be anything other than what we know, and what we know started from cooking in a kitchen in New Orleans,” said Ngo. Hiep came to the states from Vietnam by way of New Orleans, where he learned to love the flavor profiles and dishes that warm you up from the inside out. After moving to Seattle and feeling unsure of what his next move would be, Hiep accepted a partnership with a friend’s fiance to open a restaurant in South Seattle. “I didn’t have a concept in mind at the time, and one week after we opened, my partner skipped town and took my money with him,” he said through a somber smile. To make ends meet, Ngo had to pour every penny of his savings into his restaurant. He didn’t have the funding to pay his first employee, but he did have enough determination and creativity to persevere through those first years and found a home and community in White Center.
The Crawfish House makes nearly everything from scratch, from the creamy cornmeal batter smothering your fried pickles and gizzards, to the cajun seasoning that makes the seafood sing. I knew I would love this place when our server handed me a full roll of paper towels and a plastic bib before ordering a thing. We started out with a heaping portion of fried pickles accompanied by a spicy, tangy ranch dip. In my book, you can’t beat dill pickles with a perfectly flaky crunch for $2.50 ($1.50 on Happy Hour special!).
The seafood egg rolls were surprisingly delightful, lightly fried and filled with shrimp and veggies, served with a sweet chili sauce.
People are mostly coming back again and again for the seafood boils, the fan favorite being the crawfish boil. Slow cooked in house spices on a scale from “chillin” to “can’t feel my mouth a-Wowza! Milk, please!?” this meal is served by the pound with corn and sausage, and not for the faint of heart. Prepare to get your hands and face deliciously dirty; but hey you have gloves and a bib, which makes this a fun get-to-know-how-antsy-your-date-is kind of night.
The New Orleans bbq shrimp was by far one of my favorite dishes, (no these are not drenched in bbq sauce like you might suspect) heavily seasoned and served piping hot, swimming in a soy-based spicy sauce. YUM!
I love a good Po Boy, and have been severely disappointed by most offerings in the Seattle area. This shrimp po boy was pretty damn delicious – the shrimp lightly battered and fried, served on a french roll with L.T.P. and they’re not stingy with the Sriracha Mayo.
The sleeper in the lineup in my opinion was the crawfish etouffee over rice. The roux, made from house spices and veggies boiled down to a light gravy style broth (save for the bell peppers which I’m told are left for aesthetic reasons) packs a crazy amount of flavor, bringing out the sweetness of the crawfish.
If you’re looking for a fancy dining experience to get dolled up – this is NOT that kind of place. But if you’d like to roll your sleeves up and eat some great food with excellent service, head over to unincorporated King County and order some crawdaddy in White Center.