Food News

Cajun Corner Is a Vietnamese Seafood Speakeasy Hiding on the Flip Side

Green onion oil grilled scallops at Cajun Corner
Green onion oil grilled scallops at Cajun Corner Katharine Stevenson
Cajun Corner is one of a few Asian-run Louisiana-style seafood restaurants in North Texas. If you’re from Houston or from Louisiana, the combination of Cajun and Vietnamese food, in particular, is probably familiar to you: the New Orleans area has a large Vietnamese population, and many Vietnamese families moved to the Houston area after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The two cuisines combine to great effect, both being heavy on flavor and shellfish.
click to enlarge Chili salt octopus - KATHARINE STEVENSON
Chili salt octopus
Katharine Stevenson
At first glance, Cajun Corner’s storefront and menu look like a typical seafood joint: a stripped-down interior decorated with fishing nets and wall-mounted marlins, and a selection of basic items like friend catfish baskets, spicy shrimp boil and hush puppies. But flip the menu over and ask for the Asian seafood menu, and you’ve entered a whole new realm of cuisine.

The Cajun-style dishes here are good, but not fantastic. There are certainly better spots to get a catfish po’boy, gumbo or fried shrimp, although we've never heard any complaints about the Cajun food selections.

One step away from those items are the fusion dishes, which include shrimp spaghetti served with garlic bread, crawfish fried rice and a variety of seafood “sacks” (boils) with both traditional and Vietnamese-inspired seasonings. Boils come in a variety of weights and spice levels, from completely mild to “XXX spicy,” which no one at our table ventured to order.
click to enlarge Chili salt grilled shrimp - KATHARINE STEVENSON
Chili salt grilled shrimp
Katharine Stevenson

The most popular version of the “sack” is crawfish boil with Cajun Corner’s signature “Fam Bam” sauce, a buttery, garlicky, slightly spicy mixture that permeates the crawfish, potatoes and corn in the boil much more deeply than average. When in season, the crawfish at Cajun Corner are perfect: a natural-looking combination of huge and small bugs. Off-season, shrimp are an acceptable but less tasty substitute.

Then there’s the Asian seafood menu. This is where Cajun Corner truly shines. Looking around at neighboring tables we saw diners enjoying blood cockles, ark clams, various snails and even octopus and cuttlefish. But you don’t need to seek these more unusual items to enjoy this incredible menu. What makes these dishes so enjoyable is the wide variety of cooking styles and seasoning methods available.

Favorites were grilled skewered whole shrimp with chili salt, grilled scallops in the shell with green onion oil and cream cheese oysters. Talking to another couple in the restaurant, we learned that many diners come to Cajun Corner for the tamarind stir-fried crab, coconut milk top snails and clam soup. Most seafood options are available grilled or stir-fried with either chili salt, fish sauce, basil or garlic butter seasonings.

Cajun Corner is a restaurant with a menu to explore as well as dishes to come back for over and over again (read: the Fam Bam crawfish sack!). Prices are reasonable and there are options for kids and even those who don’t like seafood, but the best strategy is to order with a group and eat family-style so you can try several different shellfish and flavor options.

Cajun Corner Seafood Kitchen, 1600 N. Plano Road, Suite 800 (Richardson), 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Monday - Thursday; 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Friday - Sunday
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