First, it was Grab A Crab Restaurant opening December of last year in GenSan. Six months after, it was the turn of Pablo’s Steaks and Crabs. Now, just last month, is another one – Gusteau’s Shrimps and Crabs joining them.
Why this sudden urge to offer crabs among GenSan’s restaurateurs? The answer must lie in the booming business that the first two specialty restaurants are enjoying less than a year after they opened, one after the other. And with the availability of crabs from all over the island, it wouldn’t hurt anybody for more to follow suit.
The similarity in their offerings ends their however. While both Grab-A-Crab and Pablo’s Steaks & Crabs are fine-dining restos, Gusteau’s is in a rustic, homier setting, being located at the Tiongson Arcade, a row of native restaurants in Lagao, the same place where Bariles discovered Euro Kitchen some months back before it transferred to a bigger place nearby.
Gusteau’s is owned by the brothers Allan and Albert Lopez, who prepare and cook their offerings themselves.
Allan used to cook only for his family, his specialty being shrimps and crabs, which were always a hit among his siblings. Later on, when friends and friends of his friends heard about his culinary skills, they started ordering from him. His delicious take on shrimps and crabs spread by word of mouth that at one point, he was flown to Manila by a family friend so that he could cook for him on his birthday!
That made him and his wife Lulet decide to open an outlet at Tiongson’s Arcade in the Lagao suburbs of General Santos in November this year after convincing younger brother Albert to join them.
One fine evening, Bariles dropped by with his photographer, Marz.
Gusteau’s, just like the rest of the eateries at Tiongson’s have intimate settings, where only about six tables could fit in and at most, seat only 30 people.
Allan’s place was simply decorated with bales of multi-colored cloth which were hung from the ceiling. To the left is the mini-counter where Lulet, his wife who helps out after her day job at Cocobank acts as cashier.
Framed food shots from their menu adorn the orange-painted sawali walls, the same color of the aprons of Allan and his staff. Serving as a centerpiece is a set of framed spice holders with the word GUSTEAU’S emblazoned on it.
Bariles and Marz were immediately served the house specialty Grancheo Reale, King Crabs cooked in imported cholesterol-free oil and garlic.
Their crab was huge (!) with big fat claws filled with white tender meat which tasted sooo good, reminding them of Koronadal’s crab diner, Arpoochie. Bariles was tempted to pour its lightly golden buttery sauce on his rice and it was by itself, “pang-ulam” already. At P75 per 100 grams, it was super sulit.
Next came Gusteau’s Prawns, slightly bigger shrimps, which, according to Allan, were simmered in their secret sauce and even secret spices this time. Priced at only P250 per order, this one made Bariles forget about his spoon and fork and went for it ala pobre, with his bare hands.
A surprise dish for the evening was the Crispy Fish Fillet, which Bariles swears, inside the crackling fried dough, is the tenderest fish fillet he has ever had, literally melting in his mouth. This one, at P180 per order could be the Vietnamese basa fish or Pangasius, since he first tasted it during the Pangasius Farm launch in Barangay San Isidro a few months back. This dish comes with its own sauce and veggie sidings.
Crispy Fish Fillet
The food which the pair ordered was actually good for four people and so Marz and Bariles had a difficult time finishing everything off. The latter even tried to limit himself to a cup of rice but with the super tasty sauce of the King Crabs and Prawns, he had to order another one.
This is how their table looked afterwards:
After the Tsunami
Through it all, Bariles noticed that it was a family affair for the owners of Gusteau’s. Brother Albert was at the kitchen doing his share of preparing the fried food in the menu himself, while his Kuya who is incharged of the prawns and crabs dishes, was hopping from table to table, taking orders and warmly welcoming incoming guests. His wife Lulet was at the cashier’s nook being helped by Albert’s fiancee Dianne, who was doing part-time work as a cook that night.
All in the Family: (from left) Albert and gf Dianne, Lulet and Allan with daughter Atasha Simone
It was a admirable and endearing sight for Bariles who was more than convinced that the secret to General Santos city’s economic success is not only the presence of large multinational corporations but the proliferation of hardworking families like those of Allan and Albert Lopez, enterprising owners of Gusteau’s Shrimps and Crabs.
Gusteau’s Shrimps and Crabs is located at the farthermost end of Tiongson Arcade, beside Euro Kitchen, along Tiongson Street, Lagao, General Santos City. Reservations can be made by calling cellphone # 0916-4802830. They open from 11am to 11pm everyday.