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.