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Nov 2, 2007 10:32 PM

Mantis Shrimp in Chinatown - Please Do Tell!

I have been reaping the benefits as a Chowhound reader (non-poster) and enjoyed many new dining experiences and palette excursions guided by the numerous knowledgeable users on the site. I write tonight to inquire and further a topic about this crustacean which I've come to learn is the "mantis shrimp". I've seen them pop up all over Chinatown in recent weeks at front of house live seafood tanks of restaurants in Chinatown, well "recent" for me may very well be subjective, they may have been there all along ... ? Anyway - cut to the chase -- After my dinner tonight at Fuleen I asked the manager at the restaurant about the scary bug-like squirmy creatures in their tank... he says they are "mantis" and are prepared similar to shrimp dishes. I exited the restaurant taking mental note of MAYBE trying them in the near future... Of course I came home and did several word combination searches on Chowhound first and have learned of the Cantonese dish "pissing shrimp", Anthony Bourdain's filming in HK, etc etc... I am really curious if anyone here in NYC have had it? and if so, can recommend a good restaurant to try them and the proper sauce request as so many Cantonese seafood restaurants make that available.

Looking forward to your responses and suggestions!

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  1. The original comment has been removed
    1. I haven't eaten mantis shrimp in NYC, but I have had them in Southeast Asia. They were more like small lobster tails than shrimp and served that way as well, simply grilled with a garlic and lemongrass butter sauce.

      I hadn't noticed them in tanks in Chinatown. I'll have to pay closer attention. Mantis shrimp have a very powerful claw and can break the glass sides of a tank quite easily. I thought they were difficult to maintain in captivity for that reason.

      1. The original comment has been removed
        1. Your post intrigued me so much - I am always up for trying a new sea creature - that I went to Fuleen's tonight and ordered the mantis shrimp ($34 for 8). Our waiter said they could be prepared steamed or fried, and I chose steamed because I wanted to taste them unadorned. They were served whole, with a simple soy & cilantro dipping sauce. Several servers came over to demonstrate the way to eat them: pry up the segmented tail shell with a chopstick and then dig out the meat with a little fork. But there isn't much meat, and it's time consuming and a bit dangerous to get at it - them suckers are sharp! They have a very mild flavor, and a texture much softer and more gelatinous than "regular" shrimp. It's not something I would order again, but I'm glad to have had it this one time. So go, and get 'em fried, and tell me if maybe that's better.

          4 Replies
          1. re: small h

            Thanks small h! I was so saddened that my very First post on CH generated absolutely no interest nor response from the very active Chinatown hounds. So I really appreciate your adventurous spirit and will let you know if and when I have them and fried -- I must admit your description of their texture and the "not something I would order again" review has dropped mantis shrimp towards the bottom of the list of dishes I must try .. but heck ya never know. thank you so much for your journey and post!

            1. re: ilny

              You're very welcome. I was surprised at how expensive the mantis shrimp were, but maybe that's due to the difficulty in keeping them tanked up, as JoanN suggests. And maybe some folks are just crazy about them.

              Next time at Fuleen - geoduck two ways.

              1. re: small h

                i've had mantis shrimp in Cuba and Spain (they call them squilla mantis or galeras) but i havent tried them in chinatown because they always seemed pricey and i wasnt impressed by their flavor back then, but now i am very curious....will try them and report back.

            2. re: small h

              I love mantis shrimp, but have never found them in the US. I travel to Hong Kong 5 or 6 times a year, One of my first stops, sometimes before checking into a hotel, is Lei Yue Mun for Mantis Shrimp! I am somewhat intrigued by the texture comment. I have never experienced them to have a soft or gelatinous texture but more like lobster as Joan notes. The only way I have had them is chopped into small pieces and stir fried with garlic, lemongrass, and chillies. I have looked all over the US for them to no avail.

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