Whenever I’m in Taipei I look forward to having hot pot. Even more so when it’s winter and temperatures drop. So we were off to a place that specializes in crab hot pot, 12 Basket. It’s notoriety stems from it’s use of fresh mud crabs in your soup along with it’s changing soup base which ends up as a congee by the end of your meal. You don’t have to go this route and do ala carte hot pot, but since this was our first time, we went for the popular course.
We opted for the $1480NTD seafood set for 2 people. In addition to the base offering, we upgraded our crab as well as added beef to our meal. That may have been overkill for us since we weren’t able to finish the congee at the end or take advantage of any of the ice cream dessert. No regrets though.
As for the atmosphere, it’s a bit homestyle and local. No posh fixed seating, just tables and chairs that could be moved around to accommodate varying party sizes. There’s a downstairs as well. Most items except for the hot pot ingredients are self served, even the beer! I figure this frees up the wait staff to work at your table to help you cook your items. This was helpful for the seafood which I tend to leave in the pot and overcook. However, I did like my beef a little more rare than how they prepared it. Can’t win them all. Overall, it’s a cozy atmosphere with service and food being what you’d expect from a local restaurant. Though their seafood was a step up from normal. This was a great start to my stay here in Taipei.
Lane 50 Yixian Road
Xinyi District, Taipei City
Verdict: Actually just an okay place for seafood hot pot that you won’t leave hungry.
As you can see, it's a bit difficult to make out the sign unless you know Chinese. Look for the giant crab and you've found the right place.
They are serious about providing fresh seafood here. These are the crabs and shrimp that will end up on your plate.
As I mentioned earlier, this place is self service, even for the beer. Not the largest selection but they have Taiwan beer. That's all I really need to kick off my eating adventures here.
Next to the drinks are the side dishes that you can take back to your table. We didn't pick any since we already had more than enough food coming.
At the counter you'll have the basic ingredients to make your killer sauce for your hot pot. Not a whole lot of variety, but this will do, shacha, soy sauce, garlic, green onions, and ginger.
Starting off the broth of the hot pot is a simple pork bone base. Clean and lightly savory, you could drink the soup easily without adding any sort of seasoning.
Here's what I came here for, the crab, mud crab to be specific. You'll have to pay an extra $500NTD for the jumbo female crab like the one shown here. I say it's worth it. Besides the size, look at all the eggs! So beautiful it made me forget all about the other things we got, like the clams, shrimp, fish, and the abalone. Hence, I have no other picture except for this angle of the seafood plate. #photofail
Once everything was in the pot, you basically had a seafood soup base. But you'll be too busy eating up all the items. And thankfully, the server will take them out for you so things won't get overcooked.
This was pretty amazing. There's the paste itself which tasted fine, but they add chunks of squid to give this some more texture once it's cooked. Very nicely done!
The squid paste is added in along with assorted mushrooms to transform the soup base a second time. This mix makes it much thicker, preparing it for the final transformation.
We took the optional beef addition to our meal. It costs a little extra but what's hot pot without some beef. The quality was good though the server cooked it to a medium well in the broth. I guess it's better than them just dumping it in and walking away.
Your run of the mill assorted vegetables that were a bit dry. The only saving grace was the corn. They were still crispy and sweet after cooking.
For the last part of the meal, you'll get the mixture of wild grain long rice added to the broth. There are various grains in the mixture. Although it may not look appetizing, once added to the pot with the crab roe, it made for a wonderful bowl of congee.
Will the amount of soup left, they will take out any extra amount of broth, add the wild rice mixture, add an egg, and any remaining crab roe. The server will tend to the pot until it's ready for you to eat.
Voilà! And here's the bowl of congee to fill you up. However, it was a lot of food. I only had a taste but couldn't finish it. First time I've had crab mushroom congee and I have to say, it's good.
I didn't care for dessert that much. And it wasn't because I was full. This was kinda too bitter for me, even after adding the honey and the creamer. It's similar to grass jelly but way more bitter. I'd pass.