89 SEAFOOD 89海鮮
No. 89 HeJiang Rd.,
MRT: Xing Tian Temple
website: none. it's old school!
$$ (NT$1000+ per person)
Kid friendliness: crowded and tight space. no high chairs spotted.
Visit reviewed: 9/14/2012 (iphone 4S only)
The first thing you should know about 89 Seafood is that there is free all you can eat lu rou fan, or braised pork rice. So while you're stuffing your face with roasted king crab legs and fried oysters, you can self serve yourself some fatty, tasty rice to go with it.
The second thing you should know is that 89 Seafood is old school. The alley is full of stir fry and seafood shops, slightly grimy and Chinese only signs and menus. 89 Seafood has large fish tanks filled with would be dinner king crabs, at the plastic covered entrance and a separate dining room across from its main shop. But the prices are good especially for the portions and freshness. I should have taken more pictures at the front, but to tell the truth, large fish tanks gross me out and scare me, so I had to run inside as fast as possible.
And the food is worth wading past the tanks for. Diners can choose their seafood and approve it (and take photos with it, as I spotted diners posing with large, live king crabs on a few Chinese language food blogs) before it is prepped or cooked. My friends T and V treated me to one of their favorite local restaurant for plucked-from-the-water-fresh seafood so he did the ordering, including possibly the biggest hotpot I've ever seen. Look at the bowl of rice for scale.
Quite a few stir fry dishes are available, like clams with basil and kong ching tsai...
Old school and homestyle. The jacuzzi is waiting for the king crab.
My favorite part of the meal and the main event of dinner was the huge king crab, cooked two ways. One for hotpot...
And the second way was grilled crab legs. Grilling crab legs brought out the sweetness and intensity of the flavor, as well as created a juicy firmness to the flesh that was lost when boiled. They expertly cut the shell for you, so all you had to do was peel off the shell, dig out the meat and eat away. The shell bends almost like plastic so you can usually pull out the meat in one piece. So much better than the cold, king crab legs from a buffet. So amazing.
Stir fried shan su veggies, which are crunchy and leafy.
Loved the fried oysters, crispy and sweet.
The hotpot beef slices were also delicious. The fatty swirls of fat transformed into juicy slices when boiled for a few seconds in the hotpot.
Advance reservations are a must at 89 Seafood as it only has about 5 tables and a few extra at the second dining room across the way. It's so popular with the locals that you might have to book a week or so in advance, especially for a larger group like we had. If you're looking for fresh seafood or to "eat what the locals eat" you could give 89 Seafood a try. But if you're afraid of wet markets or dining with crustaceans looking at you from the tanks, then you might have to stick to the night markets!