In February 2020, before the world knew just how bad the COVID-19 pandemic would be, a Kiwi friend of ours suggested HOUSE OF CRAB. Unfortunately we never made it there – it closed in March due to the pandemic – but we did manage to eat at Kickin’ Inn, a restaurant with a very similar concept.
Kickin’ Inn offers a wide array of seafood which is boiled in sauce and delivered to the table in a plastic bag.. Aside from seafood, Kickin’ Inn also offers a small range of vegetable and chicken based sides. While Kickin’ Inn officially bills itself as halal, I’ve recently come to discover that there are varying types of halal and when my Egyptian colleague called the Lebanese owner to ask he found that it was insufficiently halal for his needs. We will need to catch up with him later at a venue of his choosing.
The service experience was generally fine but a bit odd to start. I was the first to arrive at the restaurant, and not 2 minutes into having taken a seat and been given the menu I was asked if I was ready to order. They knew that I was waiting for 5 others but continued to ask us three times throughout the next fifteen minutes our party slowly filtered in.
It was only when we told them that yes, we were ready to order, that they offered to explain the menu to us. I’ve read similar accounts of this extremely strange experience elsewhere online – it certainly makes more sense to me to explain the menu choices before asking if we were ready to order.
While the majority of customers ask for the plastic bag to be emptied directly onto the table (covered in a single-use paper sheet), my colleagues shied away from this and ate directly from their plastic bags in black BDSM style gloves.
I had the Moreton Bay Bugs (8 small halves for $39.95) in Sha-Bang sauce (a mixture of Kajun, Garlic Kajun, Garlic Butter and Lemon Pepper sauces) with a mild spice. The bugs were quite small and not very meaty, but the taste and experience of eating food off a table in gloves and a bib was quite a novel one. While each individual bug was not meaty, the combination of 4 bugs did end up being sufficient for an adult meal.
One thing I will mention is that each time our bugs were served (we had 3 servings for the table) we were told that they were scampi. Because of this, as well as the offer to explain the menu once we were ready to order, I didn’t really get the feeling that the guys who worked at Kickin’ Inn really knew or understood what was going on. Especially as we were told that there would be no scampi available that evening.
My colleagues who had the whole lobster with corn and potato ($49.95), served on the elusive “plate” enjoyed their meals too.
I didn’t realise just how huge the Kickin’ Shrimp Martini ($34.95) would be. It is a giant glass bowl of 15 crumbed and fried prawns in Kickin’s special sauce (read: sweet chilli) atop a bed of hot chips and garden salad. I regret getting this. The prawns didn’t taste like they were great quality, and were a bit bitter as they cooled down. The sauce all collected at the bottom of the glass, which meant that the chips and salad at the bottom got very soggy and tasty. I’m lucky I was able to share this with my colleagues, and I would not get it again.
Quirks of service aside, Kickin’ Inn was OK. The serving sizes of the seafood boil was a bit ambiguous and I think that having minimum weights and prices per kg would’ve gone a long way. It just felt too risky to order a “cluster” of snow crab for $54.95 without any indication of how much that could be.
I’m still undecided as to if I will ever go back to Kickin’ Inn. It was an expensive seafoody meal, and I doubt my girlfriend would eve go with me.
4/5 – offers a special experience not found elsewhere
Kickin’ Inn Petersham
82-86 New Canterbury Rd, Petersham NSW 2049
(02) 8668 5857