We started with what appears to be the local specialty - stir-fried mutton with noodles. It was good but needed some spice.
Then we moved on to what I can only say was some of the best seafood I've had in a long time - Shengmeng Haixian (生猛海鮮) at #251.
We had deep fried spicy octopus, which marks one of the very few times that I have truly enjoyed deep fried seafood...I generally prefer it to be cooked more gently to let the lighter flavors come through. This frying, though, brought out a savoriness that I didn't know octopus could possess, and got rid of the rubber-chicken feel that many octopus dishes possess.
We also had a Taipei seafood restaurant stalwart - basil clams. Clams cooked in a basil-heavy broth. Always delicious.
Just a few of the things on offer at Shengmeng Seafood (seriously, this is only a tiny portion of the entire menu)
Finally, we got shrimp seared in a sweet black pepper concoction that was positively delicious. I didn't realize that caramelized something and black pepper could go so well together.
The restaurant itself is unassuming but a bit more upscale than the other joints on the block. It has a Japanese-style seafood restaurant feel to it, with fish on ice, tanks of shellfish outside, dark lacquer wood tables and little stools, the blue and white "curtains" the back and lots of beer and noise.
It seemed to be a restaurant for everyone - there was a group of 20-somethings celebrating an unknown event loudly and in Taiwanese. There were three middle aged drinking mates smoking and getting plastered together, and next to them was a family including a 3-year old and a grandmother who looked as though she remembered a time before the Japanese arrived in Taiwan.
Definitely delicious, and definitely a place to return to.
I was also curious about the much smaller, homier A-Qiu Seafood closer to the beginning of the night market and will return at a later date.
Shengmeng Seafood - #251 Dalong Street, near Bao'an Temple (head to Bao'an but before entering the area with entrances to the temple annexes, turn left at "Milk Houses"bakery), MRT Yuanshan.