You may have heard the news: Dungeness crab season has finally arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you’re new here be warned that San Franciscans tend to take their Dungeness very seriously, hitting the beach to catch some themselves and hunting the delicacy down on restaurant menus all over town. So, if you fall into this category of crab-obsessed person, then here’s a hot tip to take into the weekend. Ok’s Deli, the bite-sized shop on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, has a new Dungeness crab katsu sandwich on the menu, and it’s absolutely not to be missed.
Owner Albert Ok says the Kani Katsu sandwich just went on the menu about a week ago and — since the local crab season just opened on January 18 — the kitchen is bringing in picked crab from Oregon for now. But the real thing to focus on isn’t so much crab’s pedigree, but rather the sheer quantity of it used in the making of this sandwich. Ok estimates they’re stuffing each patty with more than a third of a pound of crab, which means that even considering the $26 price tag, it’s a pretty great deal.
To make the crab patty, Ok blends the picked Dungeness crab with bechamel, taking inspiration from Japanese crab croquettes that are usually bound with the creamy white sauce. Then he coats the whole thing in egg and panko breadcrumbs before frying it to a perfect crispy exterior. The patty gets layered with housemade tartar sauce that’s punctuated with dill pickle, chives, lemon, and black pepper, then buried under a thick bed of thinly shaved cabbage and sandwiched between a sesame bun.
And before anyone balks at the price, know that Ok estimates each patty costs about $13 in ingredients alone; once you add in everything else it takes to make the sandwich, plus labor, it’s basically being sold at cost. “Everyone thinks it’s expensive,” Ok says, “but it’s really a giveaway.” Still, Ok says he likes being able to offer customers more high-end ingredients at a relatively approachable price point. In fact, he hopes to keep the sandwich on the menu for at least a month or two — assuming customers come in to buy it.
Crab fans, you know what to do.
Orders can be placed online through the Ok’s website for pick-up and the shop is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Monday at 3932 Telegraph Avenue in Oakland.