I recently traveled to the exotic Russian Far East to discover the best places to eat the famous Kamchatka crab of Russia. This crab is found in Kamchatka, which is the wildest region of Russia. Even Russians consider Kamchatka the last frontier of their country.
The jump-off point for Kamchatka is usually the city of Vladivostok, which is the largest city in the Russian Far East. It’s a rather pretty town with four major ports on the Japan Sea.
WHERE TO EAT THE FAMOUS KAMCHATKA CRAB
There’s Kamchatka crab for sale everywhere in Russia these days. However, even in Moscow, where there are many seafood markets even around the Kremlin, the crab is usually sold frozen. However, as I was in the Far East of Russia, I wanted to pick my own crab alive and have it cooked on the spot.
For this project, I had to find a relatively upscale restaurant in this Primorsky region, which is not exactly known for luxury. But I was insistent on finding a good restaurant as the chefs would know how to cook the crab just right. I did not want the crab overcooked or doused with sauce.
THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN VLADIVOSTOK
For example, we ate at one of the best restaurants in Vladivostok. It’s located near the Astoria Hotel. When I looked at the menu, though, the first thing I saw was live Kamchatka crab cooked in chili sauce.
I said to my companion: “You must be kidding. Chili sauce is only for cheap crab, and it’s a crime to cook live crab this way.”
THE BEST RESTAURANT IN USSURIYSK
So we scanned the Russian restaurant websites until we found one restaurant that matched my preferences exactly and had good reviews. Unfortunately, it was 77 kilometers away, right next to the town square of Ussuriysk.
So we drove 77 kilometers just for lunch in Ussuriysk, a nondescript town most people have never heard of. Absolutely no English is spoken here. In fact, it’s so far out that it used to be part of China 1000 years ago.
WHERE TO EAT KAMCHATKA CRAB
But wow. That crab sure was worth the 154-kilometer drive. The crab was so sublime that it only needed a dash of lemon. And it was so good that there was no conversation between us during the 90 minutes that we vanquished the two-kilogram crab.
“This crab was just caught yesterday,” said the waitress. And I have to say, for a decent but not fancy restaurant in the middle of nowhere, with wooden benches instead of chairs, lunch sure wasn’t cheap.
THE BEST SCALLOPS IN THE WORLD
But it was so good that I wanted to go back the next day to eat the crab again. However instead we ended up driving to Vladivostok where we found the fanciest restaurant I never imagined, right next to the port.
We knew from the outset that it was different from all the rest because of its cool design. Also, fashionably dressed people kept entering the restaurant for lunch.
They had crab on the menu but we decided instead to order the famous Primorsky region scallops. This is another local delicacy and these are considered by some tip be the best scallops in the world. And it was very good, particularly because these were alive just before cooking. But that”s not another story for another post in our Travelife.