Softshell Crab Shines On New Day Northwest

June 28, 2024

The Pacific Northwest sees its fair share of crabs. This week, they saw a seasonal treat from the East.

Kaelon Sparks, Executive Chef, Water Grill Bellevue, appeared on Seattle's NBC affiliate, KING5, to share Wild Maryland Softshell Crab from the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. During the segment, Chef K showcased our product knowledge, relationships with watermen and fishermen, and our seasonal offerings, preparing Softshell Crab on air and sharing information about Wild Pacific Bluefin Tuna.

"When the water starts to get warm, the crabs will start to molt - moving into a larger shell and growing. The watermen (which is what the fishermen for crabs on the East Coast in Maryland are called) will watch the crabs for signs of molting and move them to a little pen for even closer monitoring before it happens. As soon as the blue crabs molt and they're soft, the watermen will pull the crabs from the water to stop a shell from hardening. They’ll then package them up for us."

Chef K also spoke about how great summertime is for seafood, with the waters providing new products with warmer weather and water.

"Summertime is a really tough time to choose one thing that's delicious and coming into season. Just this last week, we got our first batch of Wild Pacific Bluefin Tuna from California. It's just a really delicious, meaty bite. We really love seeing this Bluefin on [the menu].”


Ready to explore what this summer has to offer for seafood lovers? Check out our menus where you can get Wild Maryland Softshell Crab and Wild Pacific Bluefin Tuna.

Wild Maryland Softshell Crab at Water Grill
Wild Pacific Bluefin Tuna at Water Grill

From Head to Fin, Here's Looking At You, Halibut.

March 15, 2024

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And, if you’re looking at Pacific Halibut from its good side, it’s a twofer: you’ve got two big eyes staring right back at you.

We think you’re beautiful, Pacific Halibut, and you give us a lot to work with – from head to fin.

Pacific Halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) is the world’s largest species of flatfish. One can weigh as much as 500 lbs. and grow up to 8 ft. long. Those big ones are called “barn doors”. The little ones are called “chickens.”

They’re found in the coastal waters from Northern California to Nome, Alaska. Most are caught in the central Gulf of Alaska. As a flatfish, they hang out on the sandy ocean floor, which gets quite dark. It’s an environment that breeds adaptation.

Halibut Illustration NOAA Fisheries

Tell Me About Those Eyes

Pacific Halibut are born swimming like the other kids in school. They look like them too, with an eye on each side of their heads. As they get older, though, their bodies begin to change. One eye migrates to the right side. By the time a halibut is six months old, it’s swimming on its side with both eyes on the top of its body. This puts them in the family of right-eyed flounders. Nearly every halibut falls into this camp. In fact, only one in 20,000 halibut is left-eyed.

The underside of the body is off-white and faces the ocean floor. The other side is a dark olive color, which helps them blend in with the ocean floor to anyone (or anything) looking down from above. It’s on that top side of the body where both eyes reside, keeping an eye out for potential threats while enjoying a steady diet of small fish, crabs, clams, squid and other bottom-dwelling invertebrates.

Typically, Halibut-catching season runs from mid-March through early November, closing right before the spawning season begins. The females typically spawn at depths of 300 to 1,500 ft. When we get a hold of Pacific Halibut, it’s wild-caught by longlines or hook and line.

Halibut burried in sand
Alex Bairstow/iNaturalist, image courtesy of UCSD

Our Process

We handpick, cut and exclusively supply the highest quality seafood to our restaurants. We leverage more than 75 years of strong relationships to source from local fishermen and lobstermen. For Pacific Halibut, this means partnering with companies such as E&E Foods. They’re experts in Alaska and the North Pacific and have been serving the industry since 1932.


Pacific Halibut is a people and palate pleaser, with a flavor that’s delightfully mild and slightly sweet. It’s a leaner fish, with large white flakes and a firm but tender texture.

We offer several preparations of Pacific Halibut throughout the season at Water Grill, utilizing the whole fish. This includes:

     •Pan Seared Halibut entrée with spring peas, fingerlings, braised leeks and lemon velouté

     •Pan Roasted Halibut Cheeks appetizer with braised fennel and brown butter lemon sauce

     •Miso Marinated Halibut Collar with grilled Okinawan potatoes, pickled bean sprouts and yuzu aioli

     •Roasted Halibut Tail tacos with roasted tomato salsa, pickled mango and soft corn tortillas

Pan-seared Halibut Velouté at Water Grill

Fisheries Management

The Pacific Halibut Fishery is managed by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fishery Management Council. These agencies work together to set annual quotas and keep the population at a level where it can continue to reproduce and sustain itself. The teamwork extends across the United States and Canada – including the states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and the province of British Columbia.

Map of Halibut Regulatory Areas

Collectively, the Pacific Halibut population has been increasing since 2013 through the active and collaborative fisheries management which has been decreasing catch weight limits year over year.