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Zesty Cajun Grill, serving steak and seafood, coming to Lakewood Black Angus space

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Zesty Cajun Grill plans to open in the former home of Black Angus in Lakewood at 9905 Bridgeport Way SW. Lucky us, the restaurant is another seafood boil restaurant coming to the area – and will open on the heels of two other seafood boil openings in Pierce County in 2021 (but more on that in a moment). In case you missed it, Lakewood’s Black Angus closed in 2020.

Zesty’s owners are local owners with a record of operating a big restaurant with a fun, celebratory atmosphere. Tina and Max Lee also own Sapporo Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi in University Place.

“I’m really excited for this new concept,” said co-owner Tina Lee, who opened Sapporo in 2018 (it replaced Jade Palace). She added, “We’ve never opened a seafood restaurant like this before, so I’m a little nervous. We’ve always opened a Sapporo style, always hibachi restaurant. Max’s family has five hibachi restaurants. We know how to do it and do it right with hibachi. This is new for us.” 

Lee, who grew up in Renton, and husband Max are longtime restaurant veterans and both come from restaurant families. Tina’s family ran a Chinese restaurant in Burien and Max’s family operates its hibachi restaurants on the other side of the country. Before they moved to the area, the couple also operated hibachi and sushi restaurants in the New York area.

STEAK, SEAFOOD AND COCKTAILS   

The concept will be threefold: a steakhouse, a Cajun seafood boil spot and a cocktail bar all under one roof. Their vision for Zesty morphed based on the community and its needs, said Lee.

“In the beginning, we were thinking Cajun seafood because it’s so popular on the East Coast. That’s where my husband (Max) is from. All along the East Coast, it’s popular,” she said. 

She added, “But then we realized that location is fitting for a steakhouse. Because Black Angus was there for so long, I don’t want to lose those customers who went there,” said Lee. 

“So we’re doing steak and the Cajun seafood. There was a bar there, a huge bar, so we’ll have that, too,” said Lee. (Tip: Sapporo is known for its killer happy hour deals and a fun cocktail list.)

The menu is still in the works, and the menu listed on their website is only a working draft, but they do know they want to offer three cuts of steak: New York, a ribeye and filet mignon and will expand the menu from there. 

As for the seafood, it will be served Cajun style in the same sort of concept as Crab King Cajun Boil and Bar, which opened in October in the former home of Outback Steakhouse in Tacoma. Lee also referenced an Asian-style flair to the food. 

It will operate like the many seafood boil restaurants we have in the area (read to the end of the story for more details on those). Diners can select from a market list of seafood, then pick a style of sauce and a spicing level. What’s brought to the table is a bowl brimming with boiled seafood spiked with heat or flavor (or both) and includes sides such as corn on the cob, boiled potatoes and sausage. It’s a sit-and-peel experience that encourages a slow-paced dining experience with friends.

“We intend to have shrimp, crab –  Dungeness and crab legs – clams, mussels, oysters, lobster and more,” said Lee. They do plan for other seafood options, as well. 

“We’ll have combinations and order-by-the-pound,” she said of the ordering style. 

That means, diners can stick with one single kind of seafood ordered by the pound, or order a combination with a set price and a number of different seafood options. That’s the preferable way to order for large groups. 

“We’ll have several flavors for sauces and seasoning,” said Lee. On that list will be lemon pepper, garlic butter, house special, Cajun and a spicy sauce. 

The rest of the menu will be an assortment of fried fish and deep-fried appetizers. There also will be a designated kids menu. 

Expect a specialty cocktail list at the bar, which will have about the same footprint as Black Angus did with a bar area that’s somewhat separate.

Zesty Cajun Grill
Zesty Cajun Grill will open in the former home of Black Angus in Lakewood.

 THE ENORMOUS DINING SPACE AT ZESTY

One appeal the Lees found with the new space is its size. “It’s a huge restaurant, about 9,000 square feet.” Lee expects it will seat about 300 at capacity. 

The Lees are no strangers to big spaces. Sapporo has close to 200 seats between the hibachi tables, private dining rooms, the sushi bar, the cocktail bar and other dining areas.

Zesty will have flexible dining areas with seating for large groups, as well as private party spaces. 

The interior needs quite a bit of remodeling, which is why they’re anticipating an opening sometime in the spring, but that’s dependent on a lot of factors, said Lee. Watch this website for updates.

ZESTY CAJUN GRILL

Where: 9905 Bridgeport Way SW, Lakewood

Webhttps://www.zestycajungrill.com/

SAPPORO JAPANESE STEAKHOUSE & SUSHI

Where: 3810 Bridgeport Way W., University Place; 253-433-3842

Web: https://www.sapporosteakhouse.com/menus


MORE CAJUN SEAFOOD BOIL RESTAURANTS 

boil
A seafood boil at Crab King Cajun Boil and Bar in Tacoma.

Crab King Cajun Boil and Bar: Read my first-bite look of newly opened Crab King here. The restaurant opened in late October and has a giant menu and spacious dining room. It’s built into the former Outback Steakhouse on 38th near Tacoma Mall. 3111 S. 38th St., Tacoma; 253-301-1688

Krab Kingz Parkland: This fast-casual seafood boil restaurant has multiple locations in Texas and elsewhere. This is a first for Washington state. Read my first-bite look here. 11814 Pacific Ave S, Parkland; 253-531-5777; https://www.facebook.com/krabkingztacoma

Captain Crab expanding: Lakewood’s Captain Crab closed a few months ago to expand into the AAA Buffet space next door, said manager Coco Teng, and should be reopening soon (if not already). I’ll share more details when I get them. Read my first-bite report from when Captain Crab in Lakewood opened in October 2020.

Dragon’s Crawfish: This tiny hole-in-the-wall nestled into Tacoma’s Lincoln neighborhood was the first seafood boil restaurant to open in Tacoma in the modern era. For six years, chef-owner Minh Phan has specialized in a delicious garlic broth tweaked with heat. Also offering fried fish, fried chicken, garlic fries and noodle dishes. 750 S. 38th St., Tacoma; 253-301-0020 

Boiling Crawfish: South Hill’s Boiling Crawfish opened in 2018 and has a bigger menu and more seafood choices than any other boil restaurant aside from Crab King in Tacoma. This South Hill restaurant is tucked away in the middle of a strip mall. Also serving fried fish, fried rice, chicken wings, po’ boy sandwiches and cocktails. 4301 S. Meridian, Puyallup; 253-256-7423; boilingcrawfishwa.com

Cravin’ Crawfish: This newcomer opened near Tacoma Mall in a small storefront at the beginning of the pandemic. The mix-and-match menu makes for easy ordering. Sauce choices include house, garlic butter, lemon pepper and a hodgepodge seasoning combining all the spice and seasoning options on the menu. Also serving fried fish and Vietnamese chicken wings. 5015 Tacoma Mall Boulevard, Tacoma; 253-300-8130; https://www.instagram.com/cravincrawfishtacoma/

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