The line was already forming outside Bag O’ Crab on northeast 82nd Avenue and Klickitat Street before opening at 3 p.m. last Thursday.
Seafood Boiling Point, a chain franchise that started in California, has been open since August, but the place has been packed since a TikTok video went viral in early October from a Portland TikToker named Yvette.
The TikTok video, which currently has 65,300 likes, highlights some of the best parts of Portland’s version of Bag O’ Crab – the many choices of shellfish to choose from, as well as corn, sausage and potatoes and a variety of seasonings. Plus, the “creepy robot server”.
Owner Gary Lin got this as-yet-unnamed server from China. He said he just liked the robot.
Lin’s daughter, Yuxin Lin, is the head human waiter and helps translate for her father.
The family is from Fujian, a province across from Taiwan on China’s southwest coast, where they ate a lot of seafood, Yuxin Lin said. Then they moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where seafood porridge — including the Bag O’ Crab location they first visited in Oakland — is popular.
THIS IS OREGON: ThisisOregon.com | Instagram | YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | ICT Tac
“We all liked it,” Yuxin Lin said. “So when we moved to Portland, we kept thinking about seafood. That’s why when he got the chance, he wanted to open a business on seafood broths and that kind of thing. Cajun seafood.
While the idea isn’t completely unique to Portland — there’s My Brother’s Crawfish and The Rockin’ Crab & Boiling Pot, plus a handful of carts serving Cajun-spiced seafood, sometimes in bags — the guests were enthusiastic in their support of Bag Ô Crabe.
The difference, according to Yuxin Lin, is that Bag O’ Crab focuses on seafood porridge without going too far beyond it on the menu, and offers five different sauces, including garlic butter, lemon pepper and the Cajun.
And then there was this TikTok.
“Saturday was still OK, but Sunday it just blew up,” Yuxin Lin said. “Sunday, business was crazy.”
“People were waiting about an hour or two,” Gary Lin added.
While the TikTok may have drawn people in and the robot can keep them entertained, the food will keep people coming back.
Some seafood, lobster, clams, some types of crab and crayfish, are kept alive before being cooked, making them as fresh as possible.
When the food arrives, either by a robot or a human, it’s delicious and messy. Bibs and gloves are provided, and it is recommended to use both.
Get some garlic bread or garlic noodles to mop up the sauce. In fact, why not have both?
Sure, it’s not cheap to eat lobster and crab (we spent about $80 for two), but there’s something so fun about cracking shells to get out tasty chunks of meat. The experience and taste are worth the price, and you’ll likely have leftovers to take home, so you can relive the meal once again.
Bag o’ Crab: 3-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 12-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 3255 NE 82nd Ave., thebagocrab.com.
Our journalism needs your support. Please subscribe today to OregonLive.com/subscribe