August 15, 2015

A sort of homecoming: a different noodle shop

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Besides spending time with the Parental Units this weekend, I also made time to visit grandma - who just turned 101 a couple of weeks ago.  After hanging out with her for a little - and trying to remind her who I am - it was time for dinner with Last Minute Uncle.  True to his moniker, he made a last minute decision for us to have dinner at a different restaurant than the Taiwanese restaurant he originally had in mind...  Some things never change.

It's been at least 3 years since I last dined at Tainan Tantsumien Seafood Restaurant (台南担仔麵) with the family.  No, boys and girls... in spite of the Chinese name, this ain't your run-of-the-mill noodle shop.  It's all about seafood here, and you do get some of the freshest and the best.  Not wanting to stick with a boring set menu, Last Minute Uncle went to look at the seafood and picked out what he wanted.

Sashimi platter (生魚片拼盤) - the lightly torched scallop was nice, as were the great amberjack (間八) and striped jack (縞鰺).  I didn't take the salmon, naturally...

These clams are called diphos sanguine (西施舌), which were pretty decent.  No surprise to find them stir-fried with spring onions, garlic, Taiwanese basil (九層塔), and chili.

Baby abalone - steamed with a sweet and spicy sauce on top, mixed with diced spring onions and garlic.

Steamed leopard coral trout (清蒸七星斑) - commonly referred to as eastern star garoupa (東星斑) in Hong Kong.  Pretty yummy.

French style prawn (cream baked) (法式焗明蝦) - a huge tiger prawn baked underneath a layer of what Hello Kitty believes to be Miracle Whip... Well, it certainly ain't cheese!  Like my last experience, the prawn was baked for a little too long.  But there was a lot of meat here, even in the head.

Steamed virgin mud crabs (清蒸處女蟳) - the pièce de résistance tonight, and mom's favorite.  The two crabs were filled with roe, and their consistencies were pretty different.

A friend asked me how one can tell that these crabs were actually "virgin".  Well, I'm no expert, but after doing some digging on the great-and-reliable resource called the Interweb (I probably should have just asked mom!), I think it comes down to 1) season, 2) hair on the female's apron, and 3) color/consistency of the roe.  Mom thinks it is a little late in the season, but I guess there are always some "late bloomers"?  In terms of hair, well, I wasn't paying attention... and I think the aprons have been removed, anyway...

But looking at the roe it's obvious that it's soft and yellow, which I believe shows that the female has yet to mate.  If the Interweb is to be believed, the roe turns reddish and hard after mating - eventually forming into individual eggs.  So yeah, I think we were indeed feasting on virgins, and boy, did their flesh taste sweet!

Stir-fried asparagus with conpoy (干貝炒蘆筍)

We were served complimentary fruit, which included a couple of pieces of very ripe and sweet papaya.  Finally there was a nice, big piece of flan.  Needless to say I gobbled this up in a heartbeat...

Totally stuffed after all this fresh seafood, to the point that I didn't even want the signature and namesake tantsumian (担仔麵), but I was happy to have come back here with the family.  Definitely gotta save some room for the noodles next time!

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