choosing dinner: while it’s alive

One of the most fun things to do on Hainan Island, especially at the beach communities like in Sanya, is to eat at one of the outside patio restaurants.  There are hundreds of them and Winston knew of one that he said was especially good.

The procedure is always the same; select your sea food from the tanks – and yes, it’s all still alive.  For those who don’t do well eating meat or watching it get killed, this may not be the best venue for you.  But if you are really into fresh sea food, this is the way to go.  Select your fish, crabs or whatever suits your fancy; an attendant follows you around with a bucket and tallies your order as you go.

No, it’s not a pet store kids, its dinner.

These crabs are a favorite in southern China.  Lulu and Winston insisted that we add some to our order as well as some other “exotic” times that I wasn’t even sure what they were (snails?  urchins?  shellfish?).

Aside from the fish tanks there were dozens and dozens of tubs full of all sorts of bottom dwelling creatures including turtles, snails, crabs, and all sorts of shell fish.  Fresh sea water is continually pumped into each tub keeping the animals aerated until the cook turns them into your dinner.

In the photo below you can see some of our “catch” as it is being sorted, weighed and the prices tallied.  In the top bucket is some sort of trigger fish, the bucket at the top left (I think) has sea urchins and the other two buckets have some veggies and greens.  The large purple thing is an eggplant, Anya’s favorite.  The eggplant grow large in China and they are exceptionally tasty.


At dinner, we feasted on all of our favorite dishes and Winston and Lulu kept insisting that we try some of the more exotic dishes including some sort of raw clams, the sea urchins, some sort of fish egg (it was rather large) – while I can say I liked the experience of trying some of the more exotic dishes, I did prefer my mainstay courses and will probably stick to those in the future.

A week later, on New Years day, I saw some shoppers selecting some “fresh” chicken for the New Years day meal:



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