In the April issue of Houstonia that's currently on newsstands, Robb Walsh gets his hands dirty covering the Vietnamese crawfish craze that has patrons lining up for hour-long waits at spots like Crawfish & Noodles, while restaurants like LA Crawfish look to expand their empires from outside the Loop to within: a Greenway Plaza location opened late last year, while another is planned soon at Highway 290 and 43rd St. near Oak Forest.
4409 Highway 6 N.
But sometimes you just don't want Vietnamese-style crawfish. Sometimes the butter and garlic just sound a little too heavy. Sometimes you just want an old-fashioned Cajun boil. And that's what you get at Hank's.
Which Hank's? you may ask. This is a valid question, as there are four locations scattered around Houston—not all of which are associated with one another. The Hank's Crawfish in Chinatown is a sister restaurant to the Hank's in Spring on FM 1960 just off the North Freeway. Meanwhile, the Hank's Crawfish in Westchase is a sister restaurant to the Hank's on Highway 6 in Katy. For purposes of my first plunge back into Cajun crawfish here at the beginning of the season, I chose the Hank's Crawfish in Katy—more specifically, the Bear Creek area.
Here, it's easy to grab a seat at the bar, order a few pounds of crawfish, and get settled in with a pint of Karbach Barn Burner. The saison makes a perfect pairing with a plastic sack of bugs, with a spicy citrus profile that mimics the habaneros Hank's uses in its spicy boil and a crisp finish that helps cool the inevitable burn. (Side note: research editor Chris Abshire, who hails from Baton Rouge, tells me his Louisiana family uses grapefruit in their yearly crawfish boil. I can see the grapefruit notes in the Barn Burner going over even better with that boil.)
Yesterday, even the medium spice level at Hank's made me stop for two mid-sack breathers, using both the Barn Burner and a massive bowl of fried okra with ranch dressing to keep my lips from going completely numb. The only thing that would make Hank's even better? If they—and most other crawfish restaurants—would fork over potatoes and corn with each order, instead of making you pay extra for the vegetables.
Right now, Hank's price on crawfish is more than competitive, at $7.99 per pound. These aren't your tiny, Chinese-farmed crawfish either, but bugs straight from the bayous in Louisiana. (Well, not from the bayous, per se, but poetic license.) A few were even big enough to dig out some tiny, delicious claw meat. And should you or your friends decide once you get there that you want that Vietnamese-style crawfish after all, don't worry: Hank's offers butter, too.