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Eat with Your Hands: Ray’s Crab Shack Opens in Newark

Ray’s Crab Shack on Mowry Avenue had its "soft" opening on March 28, according to workers.

A new sign flying over Ray’s Crab Shack on Mowry Avenue has Newark residents pulling into the parking lot.

At the end of March, workers took down the “COMING SOON” sign and replaced it with a banner that says, “GRAND OPENING.”

Restaurant manager Sam Wu says the new seafood spot in Newark had a "soft opening" on March 28.

“We’re open seven days a week,” Wu said. “We don’t have utensils.”

Inside Ray’s Crab Shack, Newark customers pass by large tanks filled with crawling crabs and wiggling lobsters next to the hostess station.

Hayward sushi chef Ray Wu chose Newark for his new culinary enterprise that showcases Louisiana-style crab, shrimp and other seafood with Cajun spices, according to spokeswoman Amy Wu. Before Newark, Wu has been serving fish fans at Ray’s Sushi in Hayward for the past 15 years.

Each table inside the Newark restaurant is covered with a large sheet of stiff white paper. The main menu divides up its entrees into categories: boiled and fried.

Amy Wu says the crab shack has been doing well for workers and customers.

“People tell us it’s a pleasant surprise,” Wu said. “Everybody eats with their hands. We also have bibs and gloves."

From shrimp to king crab legs, the boiled seafood entrées are the highlights of Ray’s Crab Shack. The servers give you an option on seasonings: original Cajun, lemon pepper, garlic butter or “The Whole Sha-Bang.”

Crab Shack customers may also select the degree of spiciness.

The fried dishes include French fries, sweet potato fries, oysters and catfish. The fried nuggets of seafood are easy finger-food options when a restaurant puts the kibosh on eating with forks, spoons and knives.

Some customers may want to think about using clear plastic gloves when it comes to the boiled entrées.

Ray’s Crab Shack serves Dungeness crab and its seasonings in a clear plastic bag. Servers leave behind crab crackers, plastic picking tools and lemon wedges on the table.

Finally, roll up your sleeves and tie a white "CRAB" bib around your neck. That’s because the dining experience turns into a juicy mess of fresh crab meat and buttery Cajun spices.

It reminded me of roughing it at umbrella-covered tables at beachside seafood shacks in Ensenada and Zihuatanejo, Mexico. That’s where cooks used an early morning catch to make crab ceviche with fresh avocado slices and lime wedges.

Leave the prom date behind, because Ray’s Crab Shack is not competing for the fine dining crowd in Newark. Instead, it’s ideal for people who want to play with their food and savor an impressive selection of Cajun-style shellfish.

Ray’s Crab Shack is at 5989 Mowry Avenue, next to Bombay Gardens. Hours: Monday-Friday, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday, noon to 10 p.m. For more information, call 510-792-8808.

Barbara April 12, 2011 at 12:28 AM
Was so excited to learn of a new seafood restaurant, especially in Newark but was terribly disappointed. I ordered Lobster, requested "market value". Was told $15.95lb and yes, I could get a small l lb one. When the bill came, I was advised that it was over 2 lbs and I had a $32.+ bill. If only that were the only thing but, lobster was tasteless, HOT & in a plastic bag upon arrival. Really hard to crack/work with because of the sauce poured over the entire thing making it really slippery. Did I mention "HOT". My friend had breaded shrimp and was not happy either. Batter was again, tasteless. We did have the garlic bread and found it acceptable and they do have an endless amount of lemon. I know the "serving method" is unique but way to "simple". It would be nice if they served a side like coleslaw, or something other than "fried" foods. And, u gotta like your water in a paper cup. So sorry for this review but....and NO, I will not be returning. :-( ps: Servers were very polite but not to learned re: questions. Hopefully time will take care of that.
James April 12, 2011 at 12:37 AM
This place sounds like my worst Nightmare.
James April 12, 2011 at 05:28 PM
My first Comment sounded a little harsh..... I've got Issues with Cleanliness and although I have learned to deal with some clutter or slight mess this would put me into a state of shock. I will forward this Article / mention this place to people I know who love seafood though.
Terry April 12, 2011 at 10:01 PM
I have had great meals at this place. It is delicious and fun. Too bad the first commenter had a bad experience- I guess it is not for everyone. For me and my family the experience of eating the shellfish with our hands was a part of the fun. The service was great too. We had Mussels and Clams and they were great. I also had the raw oysters which were amazing- very fresh- too bad my family does not like them- a full dozen alone- yikes! , but before I knew it I had "eaten every one" :-)
Johnny C. March 21, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Great place to take the family for dinner ! we order the head on shrimp/ clams with the Cajun Garlic seasoning ! the bomb !, steamed rice is a bit pricy for the quantity that you receive. We enjoyed the fried calamari/oysters too served up with cajun fries too. Overall we all had a blast and fed 3 adults/3 kids under $75.,Will return again !

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