TAIWAN— A Taiwanese ramen restaurant recently caught the attention of social media with its limited edition and bizarre flavor: “Creamy chicken broth ramen with giant isopod,” which quickly sparked public aversion.
On 22 May, Ramen Boy (拉麵公子), a ramen restaurant in Taipei, made an announcement on its official Facebook page about this extraordinary dish, stunning everyone.
“I finally got my hands on this highly sought-after dreamy ingredient!” expressed the restaurant owner.
He added that these carnivorous creatures mainly consume carcasses and reside in the icy depths of the ocean at 4 degrees Celsius. The ones used in the ramen were captured near Tungsha Island (also known as Pratas Island).
The owner claimed that the preparation process is relatively straightforward. After removing the stomach and intestines, the glands can be preserved for consumption. For this dish, they were steamed, resulting in a texture and aroma reminiscent of lobster and crab in the white meat portion.
“The yellow glands have a taste and texture similar to crab roe, providing a delightful flavour. Overall, it offers an unexpectedly sweet taste!”
He further mentioned that the dish has a mild and rich flavor, giving a round and full-bodied sensation when consumed. “There is absolutely no smell. I even intentionally smelled it, and it has a fresh seafood aroma.”
However, the dish comes with a hefty price tag, costing NT$1,480 (US$48) per bowl. Additionally, due to limited supplies, it is exclusively available to regular customers.
Taiwan scholar raises concern over potential food safety issue
A cautionary statement has been issued by Huang Ming-chih (黃銘志), an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Technology at the National University of Tainan.
He specializes in giant isopods (Bathynomus) and raised concerns about the restaurant misidentifying the species and the potential risks associated with consuming these crustaceans.
Huang explained that although the crustaceans belong to the Bathynomus genus, they are not Bathynomus giganteus but rather Bathynomus jamesi.
Huang suggested that a translation issue from a Japanese aquarium might have caused the misunderstanding. He mentioned that Bathynomus jamesi was officially registered in Taiwan only last year.
He warned that giant isopods primarily consume the carcasses of marine organisms, and their digestive tracts emit a strong odor, advising caution when consuming them.
Associate Professor Huang highlighted potential hazards, including residues of pufferfish toxin and paralytic shellfish toxin.
“It is not a traditional food. Although it has been consumed in Ruifang or Keelung since the 1970s, it is still essential to carefully inspect them for safety reasons.”