Asian N Cajun
Asian N Cajun4271 Truxel Rd.
Sacramento, CA 95834
Good for: boiled seafood and fried seafood
Notable dishes: snow crab, shrimp, Cajun fries
For whatever reason, in recent years, there seems to be a growing fondness among the members of Sacramento’s Asian-American community for Cajun food. A handful of Asian-owned places in town now serve some sort of Cajun-Asian culinary mash-up: Firehouse Crawfish (6519 Savings Plaza, Suite 205), Crab City Restaurant & Desserts (7837 Stockton Boulevard, Suite 500) and The Boiling Crab (6910 65th Street) in South Sacramento; and Chason’s Crab Stadium (8839 Sheldon Road) in Elk Grove. Asian N Cajun in Natomas is one of the latest additions to the trend.
In order to sample nearly all of the Cajun part of the menu, we started off with the Combo #4, a combination of boiled shrimp, mussels, clams, snow crab, corn, white potatoes and sausage. There were a couple more choices to be made after that. First, we settled on a medium level of spice (rather than extra hot, hot or mild), and asked for “Flavor Fusion” (a combination of all three of the sauce flavors: Raging Cajun, Garlic Sauce and Lemon Pepper). A few minutes later, after ordering off a small drink menu featuring beer and sake, a waiter placed a bagful of assorted seafood sitting in a reddish brown sauce onto our table.
One thing that turned us off right from the start was the sheer saltiness of the sauce. It could’ve used maybe a little more Lemon Pepper and less of the other two saltier sauces. Requesting a few lemon wedges and squeezing them into the sauce helped remedy that a bit. Plus, the snow crab, shrimp, potatoes and corn had a nice natural sweetness to help balance out the saltiness. Unfortunately, the mussels, clams and sausage soaked up a little more of the salt than we would’ve hoped.
We also ordered a few extras that are common to several of these mashup joints: salt-and-pepper crab, garlic noodles and Cajun fries. The crab came deep fried, was slightly overcooked and didn’t have quite the moistness that the boiled crab did. For something called “garlic noodles,” our bowl of noodles could’ve used some more garlic and maybe a little black pepper to spice it up, too. On the other hand, the Cajun fries tasted great: salty, spicy and crunchy.
On a different visit, we switched over to the pan-Asian lunch menu with an order of chicken pad Thai, house fried rice and a pork-chop rice plate. The pad Thai, with its copious chunks of chewy fried tofu, soft chunks of chicken and a nice smoky wok flavor, was the best of the three. Neither the fried rice nor the pork chop (which seemed to be glazed with a sweet teriyaki sauce) really stood out, but it was nice to have all the choices.
A few side notes: Normally, one should order boiled crawfish at these types of restaurants. But we abstained because it’s not quite crawfish season yet, and according to a server, the crawfish stock ANC has right now is frozen. Hopefully, when the season comes around, most of these Asian-Cajun places can find locally sourced crawfish, because Northern California’s delta region is known to be relatively rich with them.
There are also vegetables on the menu (veggie egg rolls, a salad, and Vietnamese bun), but we didn’t quite make it that far into the menu.
We’re not sure if this is the best example of the Asian-Cajun genre in Sacramento, but it’s a good start. While it’s a great spot for some salty, fried comfort food, it doesn’t quite have the range of flavors that several of the other spots in South Sacramento do (Firehouse and Crab City in particular seem to be doing more fun, inventive stuff). Still, after a few squirts of lemon, the sauce at Asian N Cajun is pretty awesome.