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Pete Wells Gets His Hands Messy for Spicy, One-Star Seafood at Le Sia

The Times critic finds hits and misses at the super-packed restaurant

Spicy crab legs, boasting an orange hue, with Chinese breadsticks at Le Sia is photographed from above
Spicy crab boil with Chinese breadsticks at Le Sia
Photo by Louise Palmberg

Times critic Pete Wells dives into the constantly-packed East Village Chinese seafood boil restaurant Le Sia in this week’s review — finding that though there are misses in its menu, many of the various sauces and shellfish options are compelling.

Le Sia has been slammed since it opened earlier this year at 11 East 7th St., between Second and Thirds avenues, and already, the restaurant, which serves a version of crayfish popular in contemporary China, has gained acclaim as an affordable, spicy shellfish destination. Wells enjoyed the “hot and spicy sauce” for its soy and miso flavorings and the “numbing and spicy” option for its tingling spice. He had hits and misses in the shellfish options, naming crayfish and lobster as the better choices:

Honesty compels me to note that the California crayfish Le Sia has been serving lately have a sweeter, finer flavor than the ones it was getting from Louisiana in the late spring. This will no doubt cost me some friends in New Orleans. On the other hand, those friendships are already on the rocks over my newspaper’s insistence on calling the crustacean in question crayfish, rather than crawfish.

Le Sia’s shrimp, in my encounters with it, was bland and powdery. Dungeness crab arrived overcooked, the meat desperately stuck to the shell. Snow crab was much better: sweet and flaky in the legs, although the white bits at the joints were slightly broken down. But every time I ordered lobster it was juicy and sweet. It may be the safest choice, although I haven’t completely given up on the crayfish entirely. At $15 for what looks like a very generous pound, it’s worth taking a chance.

As for the rest of the menu, Wells was not impressed with most of the skewers, calling the squid legs and enoki mushrooms “dry and overdone.” But the wok-fried clams, smashed cucumbers, and Harbin sausage “were delicious,” he writes. One star.

Le Sia

651 9th Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10036 (646) 559-5220 Visit Website

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