The Differences Between Hard Shell Crab, Soft Shell Crab and Krab

When dining out, you have probably noticed a plethora of similar sounding ingredients in some of your favorite dishes. In the case of hard shell crab, soft shell crab and krab, this is often confusing. In Japanese cuisine, they are all used in similar dishes, so what are the differences? Here we’ll give you a little information to help you navigate the menu next time you dine with us.


Though called by different names, both soft shell and hard shell crab both come from the same type of crab. These crustaceans, usually blue crabs, go through a molting period when they mature. This means that they have grown too large for their shells and need to remove them before they can grow a new, larger shell to accommodate their size.

This process begins with the crab absorbing water until it swells large enough to break open its current shell and climb out. Once the crab has picked its way free from the old shell, it can begin growing a new shell. A few days will pass before a new hard shell has finished growing to cover the exposed soft body of the crab. During this short window, the crab is harvested quickly and can be prepared in a variety of different ways.

While both soft and hard shell crab have a bright, salty sweet flavor, the textures are quite different. The texture of a soft shell crab is unique. Normally deep fried, a light crunch gives way to the buttery soft meat inside. Though not quite as delicate in texture, the hard shell crab has a slightly more robust flavor hidden inside the tough exterior.

For a soft shell crab experience you will not forget, take a look at our Spider Roll. A deep fried soft shell crab and crab cake are combined with cucumber, avocado, masago and mayo rolled together with diced mango, eel sauce and sesame seeds inside a sheet of crisp nori.


Despite the name, krab is normally not made with any real crab, though some companies do use real crab along with the other ingredients. Called surimi, imitation crab or krab, this imitation meat is normally made of three basic ingredients. White fish, starch and spices are ground together to create a paste which can then be shaped into leg-like pieces and colored to resemble crab. Common in Japanese cuisine, this imitation seafood is used in many dishes all over the world.

Created in Japan as a cost effective replacement for shellfish in the 1970’s, surimi gained global popularity. Not only is it cheap and easy to manufacture, but surimi has a longer shelf life than standard shellfish and is easier to acquire all year. A decade later, surimi surfaced in the United States as imitation crab or Krab in sushi and seafood restaurants where it became a favorite. Today, imitation crab is still widely popular both in seafood dishes and as a shellfish alternative.

For those who would like to try imitation crab today, might we suggest our Rainbow Roll. Imitation crab, cucumber and avocado are rolled together inside nori and topped with tuna, salmon, white fish, avocado, mosago, lemon drops and sesame seeds.

For those who suffer from shellfish or other food allergies, please talk to your chef and server. While we cannot guarantee to completely eliminate all allergens, we will do everything we can to ensure your protection, including preparing your meal in our back kitchen.

Types of Sushi

The idea of eating sushi can be a little daunting at first: After all, most cuisines don’t feature uncooked proteins. However, sushi happens to be one of the most complex and delicious cuisines in the world, as more and more people throughout the world are finding out about this popular japanese food choice.

At first, the world of sushi can seem overly complicated and strange. The terms aren’t familiar, and there is a wide assortment of types of sushi to try. For a beginner, a sushi menu is usually literally a foreign language. But the good news is that you can easily understand the basics of sushi by learning just a few classifications into which sushi is grouped.
Once you understand the following types of sushi, you’ll be able to order sushi with confidence, and begin to appreciate one of the most novel and delicious world cuisines.

1. Temaki

Temaki is another variation on the concept of the sushi roll. A Temaki sushi uses the seaweed in a rolled shape similar to an ice cream cone, with the ingredients that make up the sushi roll being placed inside.

Temaki rolls are often served as appetizers, and are a fun variant on the traditional Maki form.

So, to summarize, Sushi can be broken down into two basic categories. There’s Nigiri and Sashimi, which usually feature uncooked seafood in a simple presentation that highlights the fresh, high quality protein. And there is Maki, which are rolls which can contain many types and combinations of ingredients.

Once you’ve understood that basic concept, you’ve got the basics down, and should be able to start exploring and enjoying the world of Sushi cuisine.

2. Nigiri

Nigiri is one of the most classic types of sushi, as well as one of the oldest. In many ways, Nigiri Sushi distills the sushi experience down to its basics.

The form of Nigiri is a pressed oblong shape of sushi rice, which is then topped with a swipe of wasabi and some kind of topping. The toppings are usually seafood such as tuna or salmon, but can be anything from egg to chicken, or even more exotic toppings like eel. The topping of Nigiri is nearly always raw, but in some instances is seared or cooked.

>> Read More About Nigiri

3. Sashimi

Sashimi is technically not considered sushi, though nearly every sushi restaurant will serve sashimi, so it’s useful to classify and explain it along with sushi.

Sashimi refers to thinly sliced pieces of extremely fresh meat or fish, often served over a bed of daikon radishes. Sashimi differs from Nigiri Sushi in that it’s not served on rice, and Sashimi is always raw. Otherwise, the two are somewhat similar. In both cases, the centerpiece of the dish is the wonderfully fresh protein, prepared with master craftsmanship.

>> Read More About Sashimi

4. Maki

Nigiri and Sashimi represent sushi at its purer form, with the protein and rice taking center stage. However, there’s an entire other landscape of sushi, offering an enormous range of complexity of differing ingredients. These are Maki Sushi, or sushi rolls.

Maki are usually rolled in seaweed, known as Nori, and can feature almost any combination of ingredients imaginable. While Nigiri and Sashimi are meat based dishes, Maki can be vegetarian, though Maki certainly do feature seafood and other meats as well.

The traditional Maki Sushi shape and structure is the seaweed on the outside with rice and any other ingredients on the inside. While this is the standard setup, a number of other Maki formulations are popular as well.

>> Read More About Maki

5. Uramaki

Uramaki is a type of Maki Sushi. The main distinction with Uramaki is that the seaweed is on the inside of the sushi roll, with rice and other ingredients on the outside.

Uramaki is a more modern invention, and has become increasingly popular in certain parts of the world. Many sushi rolls that have reached mainstream popularity and recognition, like the California Roll, are Uramaki.

There are pluses and minuses to Uramaki vs. traditional Maki, but each is the same general idea. Seaweed, rice, and nearly any combination of ingredients a sushi chef can dream up.

>> Read More About Uramaki


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