Dinner Out At The Shirmp Haus In Santa Clarita

We asked for your suggestions for Dinner Out in Santa Clarita and we got a lot of mentions for Parashar's Indian Kitchen. But alas, we shoot on Mondays and the restaurant is closed. So, instead we headed to The Shrimp Haus, just off Magic Mountain Parkway.

To me, this restaurant is confusing; good, but confusing. Not many restaurants boast southern seafood AND Thai fusion cuisine.

The Shrimp Haus is the labor of love of Francesca and Levi Llorico. They opened the place in August. They looked around Santa Clarita and decided the area needed seafood. That accounts for the boiled or steamed seafood but its the way its served that makes this a rather primal experience.

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Take the shrimp. The crustaceans are boiled in a seasoned broth then tossed with the original cajun style seasoning, a garlic butter, a lemon pepper or Indian spice. Most people opt for the medley which is a mixture of all the seasonings. You can also choose various levels of heat.

Make mine spicy, that means fire or super fire level.

The seafood is served in a plastic bag, placed inside a bucket. Diners don bibs and plastic gloves to attack the peel and eat shrimp; all meant to encourage you to "eat with your hands" We found Sammy Avila celebrating his 22nd birthday with a pile of shrimp exoskeletons on the table, certainly, the sign of a meal well savored. He called the shrimp succulent and delicious.

Shrimp maybe the most popular item ordered, but we also saw people enjoying the seafood combo. The mini version comes with shrimp, mussels and crawfish or clams. The deluxe version comes with all of the above plus king and snow crab. This is a crowd pleaser, a little something for every seafood lover.

If you prefer something less messy, there's fried seafood. The batter is super light, just enough to add a crispy coating and act as foil to the cajun seasoning generously dusted on the fish and the fries. There was a surprising sweetness to the spice, but Cliff Fredricks told me he liked the seasoning and appreciated that it wasn't too spicy. He was having the fresh battered catfish, there's also fried shrimp, calamari and more heavily breaded oyster. I'm not a fan of cooked oysters and this version, which is not fresh made, didn't change my mind. The sauces are fresh made, however, a perfectly agreeable tartar sauce and a cocktail sauce with a touch of horseradish.

I'm still on the fence about whether the combination of Southern and Asian is a good match. I suppose when the dominant flavor for the seafood in a bag comes from garlic and butter, why not a little soy and plum sauce. And in that case, the tart, clear broth of the Tom Yum seafood soup cuts through the unctuousness of the Southern-style fish. Again, the Llorico's call the

Asian side of their menu Thai fusion. So, you can get Pad Thai as well as chow mein. Instead of regular ginger, the chef uses galanga... a Thai ginger. The soup has good sized slices as well as fresh lime leaf. This is the dish to order if you're like your flavors complex and layered. I also tried a couple of the wok fired noodle dishes. The Pad Thai is served with a side salad of greens and carrots instead of the typical bean sprouts and crushed peanuts. The dish owes much of its flavor profile from the galanga and the way chef Jose cooks the noodles in a scorching wok with the fire leaping up and into the wok. The chow mein also has a char flavor that compliments the rest of the dish. Also, loved how both noodle dishes weren't overwhelmed by a gloppy sauce.

The final dish of the evening came from the Llorico's daughter, Diana. She runs Ice Haus which has a little counter inside the restaurant. She brought over a giant dish of snow ice or Taiwanese shaved ice. This is a lighter, icier version of ice cream that is formed to fit a ice shaving machine, but instead of snowy ice, creamy ribbons fill a bowl. The dish she served me had a scoop of regular ice cream on top of the snow ice, along with chocolate sauce, fresh chopped strawberries and crushed oreos. The texture of the snow ice is fascinating; creamy yet icy, lighter than ice cream, better flavored than a Hawaiian shave ice. Nothing wrong with this dessert, especially after a spicy meal.

www.TheShrimpHaus.com

25373 Wayne Mills Pl

Santa Clarita, CA 91355 USA

tel:+1-661-287-9733

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