Eswatini Daily News

By Angie Teo and Fabian Hamacher

TAIPEI (Reuters) – A 14-legged giant isopod is the highlight of a new dish at a ramen restaurant in Taipei and it has people queuing up – both for pictures and for a bite from this bowl of noodles.

Since the ‘The Ramen Boy’ launched the limited-edition noodle bowl on May 22, declaring in a social media post that it had “finally got this dream ingredient”, more than a 100 people have joined a waiting list to dine at the restaurant.

“It is so attractive because of its appearance – it looks very cute,” said the 37-year-old owner of the restaurant, who wanted to be identified only as Mr Hu, as he held up a giant isopod while customers took pictures.

General Kiang, 28, one of the two reserved customers eats the giant isopod in Taipei, Taiwan May 27, 2023. REUTERS/Ann Wang

“As for the cooking method, we use the simplest way, steam, so there is no difficulty to process it.”

READ MORE: Restaurant where AKA was killed to remain closed ‘until further notice’

The restaurant steams the isopod for 10 minutes before adding it to the top of a bowl of ramen with thick chicken and fish broth. Each bowl costs 1,480 Taiwan dollars ($48).

A customer said the meat tastes like a cross between crab and lobster with a dense texture and some chewiness.

Giant isopods – a distant cousin of crabs and prawns – are the largest among the thousands of species in the crustacean group, the NOAA Ocean Exploration said on its website.

They are usually found about 170-2,140 metres (186-2,340 yards) deep in the ocean, with 80% of them living at a depth of 365-730 metres, Taiwan’s Animal Planet said on a Facebook page.

Digell Huang, 34, one of the two reserved customers takes photos of the giant isopod ramen in Taipei, Taiwan May 27, 2023. REUTERS/Ann Wang

A Taiwanese expert identified the species as “Bathynomus jamesi”, discovered near the Dongsha islands on the South China Sea. They are thought to be caught at between 300-500 metres.

Since the ramen launched, some scholars have expressed concerns over the potential ecological impact of bottom trawling fishing tactics as well as possible health risks.

But customers at the restaurant disagree.

READ MORE: Locals get free exhibition opportunities at Food Taipei

“If it’s just a special menu, and the giant isopods were caught unintentionally like the restaurant owner says they were, everyone should try it if they get a chance,” said 34-year-old Digell Huang, who works as a genetic counsellor.

Giant isopod ramen is served at a restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan May 27, 2023. REUTERS/Ann Wang

“I am very honoured to have this opportunity to taste it,” she added as she ate from a bowl of the isopod-topped noodle.

A scholar, however, warned against potential health risks, saying the largely unknown species may contain toxins or heavy metals such as mercury.

The ‘Bathynomus jamesi’ species was recognised officially in Taiwan last year and there is not much data on it, said Huang Ming-chih, a biotechnology associate professor specialising in deep-sea invertebrates at the National University of Tainan.

“The best practice would be to do more research … build a complete database and then allow people to eat, it would be better that way,” he added.

Hu, the owner of the restaurant, holds the giant isopod for a photo in the kitchen in Taipei, Taiwan May 27, 2023. REUTERS/Ann Wang

Related posts


EDN Reporter

UK PM Sunak breached parliament’s code of conduct inadvertently – watchdog


EDN August 29, 2023 Edition


Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Siyabonga Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy
Open chat
Connect with the Eswatini Daily News on WhatsApp