The Crab Cakes at the Royal Thai in Ottawa were supposed to be in shells rather than as cakes but were very good and got a 4 out of 5 Rating.
The Royal Thai Restaurant in Ottawa’s Byward Market actually shares building space with the Palais Imperial, and you can order from both menus from each establishment. Over the years, I have been a regular visitor to the Chinese part of the premises for Dim Sum, but I have also enjoyed several Thai Curries and Appetizers as well.
The Crab Cakes appeared on the Royal Thai appetizer section of the menu as ‘Pu Ja’. Elsewhere, this is usually rendered as ‘Poo Cha’, which I believe translates as ‘Stuffed Crab’. Generally, the basic form of the dish is a seasoned mixture of ground pork and crabmeat that is stuffed into a crab-shell half then deep-fried. Unlike Western Crab Cakes, the meat is not breaded, nor heavily battered, rather, a thin coating of egg is used.
The ‘Pu Ja’ at Royal Thai, did not, as you can see, use Crab Shells. Since they were specifically mentioned on the menu, I rather thought I must have been brought the wrong order. I asked about this, my server informed me that they were currently out of the shells. As this didn’t materially affect the taste of the dish, I wasn’t overly disappointed, but it did strike me that, rather than ‘Pu Ja’, or ‘Poo Cha’, I actually ended up eating Thai-style Crab Cakes.
Here you can see a close-up of the interior of a Royal Thai Crab Cake. The coating is visible as a nice golden crust and I think that a little rice flour was added to he beaten egg as it had a lovely crispy bite to it. Indeed, the texture of the entire cake was excellent, with the ratio of pork to crab, and the mixing of the two making for a pleasantly chewy and slightly ‘springy’ mouthfeel.
As for the taste, the filling was seasoned with leaf coriander and garlic and, I think, a little pepper. The coriander was used only lightly (which pleased me as I am not a huge fan), and the seasoning was deftly handled and complemented the pork and crab very well. I thought that crab might have been a little sweeter than it was, but this was only a minor quibble and, overall, I enjoyed these very much.