Another day, another restaurant opens with a concept that closely resembles The Angry Crab. The latest contender opened late last month, Asian Cajun, which took over the vacancy left by Lincoln Park Noodle House near the corner of Fullerton and Ashland. For the uninitiated, The Angry Crab is the bustling spicy seafood depot that opened in March 2015 and become a lynchpin on the Eater Chicago Heatmap, as well as a recent addition on the Eater Chicago 38.
Much of the concept centers around those messy plastic bags filled with Cajun-seasoned seafood. Check out Asian Cajun's menu here. It's not uncommon to wait for hours at The Angry Crab for a table on the weekend, and other restaurant owners want a part of the action. Besides this new spot at 2428 N. Ashland Ave., The Boiler Shrimp and Crawfish in suburban Skokie, Lowcountry in Wrigleyville, The Rim Seafood near Angry Crab, and even Crab and Spice in suburban Woodridge have previously jumped on the trend.
Angry Crab co-owner Mark Nguyen hasn't tried any of those competitors. Despite more places for customers to try similarly-prepared seafood, he said he hasn't noticed any drop in business or shorter lines. It's the long lines, not the sense that imitation is flattery, that provide Nguyen and his staff vindication.
"As far as others doing the same concept, we kind of anticipated that when we were working on ours," Nguyen said. "It doesn't come as a surprise or anything like that."
There's no bitterness, Nguyen said, noting Chicago as the third-most-populous U.S. city, and that gives restaurant owners plenty of customers to share. Some diners will prefer the Angry Crab's food, some may prefer the competitors. Nguyen has even met with Christopher Talo, co-owner of The Boiler, whom he called a nice guy. "There's no reason to be bitter toward each other, for lack of a better word," Nguyen said.
As far as Angry Crab's next step? Nguyen said new items will appear on the restaurant's menu. He also hinted at something he's not at liberty at reveal yet. The mystery thickens for them, as the trend heads to Lincoln Park.
Asian Cajun, 2428 N. Ashland Ave., open from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday; noon to 10 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday; noon to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday.