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

Wild Santa Barbara Spot Prawn Season

March 1, 2024

Shrimp are found all over the world. From saltwater to freshwater, wild, farmed and frozen. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. The list goes on.

Prawns are generally found in freshwater environments.

Spot prawns; however, are not prawns. The Spot Prawn (Pandalus platyceros) is found exclusively in the Pacific Ocean, from the Gulf of Alaska down to Northern Baja California. Named after the paired spots located just behind the head, our California Spot Prawns hail from the Southern California Bight (a 430-mile stretch of curved coast from Point Conception, Calif. to Punta Colonet, Baja California Sur, Mexico), with main ports of entry at Santa Barbara, San Pedro and San Diego.

These shrimps are big, too. The largest in the Pacific, in fact. They can grow upwards of 12 inches (30.5 cm) but most are around 4 to 10 inches (12-27 cm) in length.

It’s in California where spot prawns were initially discovered in the 1930s, hanging out in octopus traps off the coast of Monterey. Today, they’re caught in pot traps to ensure careful handling and effective fisheries management (shoutout to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife).

Spot prawns dwell deep, inhabiting depths of 600 feet to 1,500 feet on soft and rocky bottoms.

Every February, we gear up to receive these live, special treasures from local fishermen in Santa Barbara.
Spot Prawns in Water Grill Live Saltwater Tank


The average life span for a spot prawn is around six years. It’s around year four or five when something magical happens: spot prawns start transitioning from male to female. Spot prawns start life as males, then they join the other team after their first spawn as males. They’re a true example of a hermaphrodite in the natural world, a protrandric hermaphrodite, if you want to get the scientific term spot-on.

Spot prawns spawn once a year, with each individual spot prawn mating once as a male and once or twice as a female. This typically occurs from October through January. That’s the reason spot prawn season is closed during that time.


Spot prawns are a rarity and a delicacy. Careful handling is critical, as they must be enjoyed immediately after they decease. (There’s an enzyme in them that instantly begins decomposing the muscular structure, leading to a “mushy” texture when cooked if not handled properly.)

As finding and preparing spot prawns can be a little, well, spotty, it goes without saying that the best way to enjoy them is fresh from the water. At Water Grill, we fill our saltwater tanks with live spot prawns and prepare them to order, where you can get them as a tempura-fried Nigiri or as a charcoal-grilled entrée.

Spot prawns are delicate and delicious. We may refer to them as delicate, but the firm texture makes them sweet and gives a “pop” of flavor every time you take a bite.