Fri, Oct 24, 2008 - Page 15 News List

RESTAURANTS :Zhongyang Shichang (中央市場生猛海鮮)

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Zhongyang Shichang (中央市場生猛海鮮) is one of several fresh seafood restaurants, or haixian dian (海鮮店), on Changan East Road that attract brisk business even on weeknights. Neon signs blast the price point of most dishes on the menu — NT$100. For our meal, however, we decided to forgo the extensive a la carte menu and indulge in the restaurant’s specialty: fresh fish and crab from the tanks and boxes of ice out front.

Live and freshly caught seafood costs more, but the difference in quality and taste is worth it. We selected a greater amberjack fish (紅甘魚, NT$790), and one small crab with a mottled pattern on its shell, which the restaurant referred to as “cauliflower crab” in Chinese, (花菜螃蟹, NT$280). From the menu, we picked a serving of Hakka stir-fry (客家小炒, NT$100).

The restaurant was filled with boisterous groups of diners on the Monday night that we went, many of who were sharing large bottles of Taiwan Beer (NT$80) or whiskey (Zhongyang Shichang offers a large selection ranging from NT$350 to NT$1,350 per bottle). We got a large bottle of Blue Girl (NT$100) out of pity for the young woman who had to shill the beer from table to table while wearing a polyester blue sateen outfit with furry white trimmings.

The richer taste of Taiwan Beer, however, would have been a better fit for the salty Hakka stir-fry, which featured QQ pieces of calamari and bean curd stir-fried with chili peppers and green onions. It was very flavorful, but certainly made us quite thirsty. Our greater amberjack fish, or kanpachi, as it is referred to in Japanese, yielded more than nearly three-dozen pieces of fresh sashimi, which the two of us dutifully plowed through. The fish was fresh and delicate, but after 34 slices of nothing but light pink greater amberjack flesh, I really wished that we had ordered the sashimi combination plate (綜合花壽司, NT$100) from the sushi bar instead.

Zhongyang Shichang (中央市場生猛海鮮)

Address: 52, Changan E Rd Sec 1, Taipei City

(台北市長安東路一段52號)

Telephone: (02) 2523-2017

Open: 11am to 2pm; 4pm to 2am

Average meal: NT$300 to NT$600

Details: Chinese menu; credit cards not accepted


We had yet another round of greater amberjack to get through when our fish head soup was brought to us in a large tureen. The savory miso broth base complemented the slices of fish very well. We spooned through the soup until we got to the segments of meat from front of the fish’s head where the eye sockets are located. That is supposedly the most nutritious portion of the fish, and the texture of the flesh was melt-in-your-mouth tender.

The crab came to us pre-cracked, making it easy to dig the tender meat from out of its claws. The top shell had been neatly separated so we could enjoy the crab’s hepatopancreas, or the mustard yellow substance with a strong, rich taste that is considered a delicacy by crab connoisseurs.

Our meal left us stuffed to the gills, but if we had been able to, we would have ordered the shrimp handrolls (蝦手捲, NT$100 for three) we had enjoyed on a previous visit. They are made-to-order at the sushi bar and come with generous pieces of fresh-cooked shrimp, crunchy shredded lettuce and a large, thick dollop of mayonnaise.

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