Thursday, January 08, 2009

Fear Factor: West Coast Style at Typhoon

What do you consider to be extreme eating? On my recent trip to California I dined at a restaurant called Typhoon located right on the tarmac of the Santa Monica Airport. Typhoon has been open for 15 years featuring over 70 items on the menu from Thailand, China, Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, Korea, Burma and Singapore. What attracted me to this restaurant was not the diverse Pacific Rim cuisine but the insects that they serve! That's right, insects like scorpions, crickets, waterbugs, ants, and sea worms. Technically scorpions are not insects, but they belong to the same super-phylum as insects, I'm sure that's what the chef was thinking when compiling this menu.

Anyway, I was very excited to get to Typhoon to try some insects. I met up with a friend and his posse and the insect talk generated a lot of buzz. My friend's brother decided to order the Thai-style frog's legs with cilantro sauce - yes, I know, a frog is an amphibian and not in anyway an insect, but the frog's legs were his extreme eating. I love frog's legs by the way; I ate them once before at Dali in Somerville, they were fried. The Thai-style frog's legs at Typhoon were grilled and served with a cilantro dipping sauce. The frog meat was tender and slightly sweet, and oh so delicious, perfectly prepared. Much better than chicken if you ask me - they tasted like FROG, not CHICKEN and were very plump; they must have come from some BIG frogs! The cilantro sauce was great too!

Thai-style Frog's Legs with Cilantro Sauce

Once I saw what was on the menu, I knew I was going to at least trythe Singapore-style scorpions served on shrimp toast. I convinced a few other people to try them as well so we ordered two plates, two scorpions per plate. Each scorpion was about 2-2 1/2 inches in length and yes, they were REAL scorpions. Wanting the full scorpion experience, I plucked the little bugger off the shrimp toast with my chopsticks and popped it in my mouth. It was crunchy and salty but I can't say that it tasted like much, basically fried exoskeleton! The shrimp toast on the other handed was full of great shrimp flavor, it was fantastic.

Singapore-Style Scorpions on Shrimp Toast

I also ordered the Taiwanese Crickets with raw garlic and chili pepper, no one else was willing to try these. They were simply stir-fried along with what I think were shoe-string potatoes and finished off with some raw garlic and fresh chili peppers. The crickets had a little more substance to them than the scorpions, but still tasted like nothing more than crispy fried shells. The flavor might be described as a little earthy but mostly I just got fried goodness. The garlic was definitely raw, and strong, and the chili peppers were fresh and HOT!

Taiwanese Crickets with raw garlic and chili pepper
Lastly, for something to fill my belly, I ordered the Yum Unn San Thai glass Noodle salad with chicken and shrimp. There was absolutely no fear factor with this bowl of perfectly cooked glass noodles, but they were delicious with the shrimp and chicken, and more fresh chili peppers.

Yum Unn San - Thai Glass Noodle Salad with Chicken Shrimp

If you live in the greater Los Angeles area or find yourself in Santa Monica for any reason, I highly recommend Typhoon. For those of you without the stomach for scorpions or crickets, they have ants and sea worms too! No? Okay, well they have a huge menu of great Pan-Asian food that requires no warning label, like the glass noodle salad that I had. Oh yeah, and how could I forget, they have LIVE music! I was there on a Tuesday night and there was a Big Band playing that was quite good. Bon appetit!

3221 Donald Douglas Loop South
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Phone (310) 390-6565

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