Meet Taipei's Newest 'Dream Ingredient'

This 14-legged giant isopod atop ramen noodles has spurred a waiting list at Taiwan eatery
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2023 10:24 AM CDT

"Would you eat this?" is the question posed by the South China Morning Post on a new delicacy making headlines out of Taipei. But while Americans may feel squeamish at the prospect of scarfing down on what The Ramen Boy calls its "dream ingredient," locals are clamoring for a taste, with a current waiting list 100 deep to get into the eatery in Taiwan's capital city, reports Reuters. The dish that's making headlines: a bowl of ramen noodles, topped with Bathynomus jamesi, the technical name for a 14-legged giant isopod that Mashable notes "you're more likely to see featured in a science textbook rather than on a dinnertime menu."

The crustacean, a distant relation of crabs and prawns, dwells on the ocean floor at depths of up to 7,200 feet and can grow to be more than a foot long (one specimen once made it to 2.5 feet). A Facebook post by the eatery now serving it explains how it's made, as translated by Mashable: First, the creature's innards are removed. Then, the meat is steamed inside the shell before being added to a chicken broth with noodles, the isopod's head perched on top of the bowl for effect.

"It is so attractive because of its appearance—it looks very cute," says the owner of The Ramen Boy, known as Mr. Hu, per Reuters. One patron who sampled the dish tells the outlet it tastes something like a crab-lobster combo, with "a dense texture and some chewiness." A researcher warns there's one thing consumers need to be cognizant of before chowing down on the buglike repast: It could have high levels of mercury or other toxins. If you're inclined to be adventurous, the meal will set you back about $48. (More weird food stories.)

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