Pete Sweeney (more chengdu)|
It may be that you've been here too long and your tongue is numb. It may be that you've grown jaded from eating frog, dog, and caterpillars, and think there's nothing startling left to eat in China. Jun Hong Ji Spicy Crab and Shrimp can help. For one thing, it's hotter than all get out, and the longer you eat it, the hotter it gets. As for starting, I've translated “papa xia” as “shrimp,” but the literal meaning is “crawling shrimp,” and I have no idea what the actual name of this sea beast is, except that it's uglier than shrimp, but much tastier and meatier. I mean, maybe it is a kind of shrimp, but it looks like the shrimp that its parents locked in the closet when guests came over.
Anyway, spicy papa xia and crab are the specialty at this place. The standard dish comes on a bed of pepper, garlic, and so on, but you can also get it dry-fried. The papa xia aren't the easiest things to eat, so they give you plastic gloves you can wear while you rip the meat out of 'em, but the shells have little spikes on the sides that rip through the gloves. Then they bring you more gloves. For those who don't want to eat the shrimp, Jun Hong Ji has plenty of alternative main courses and sides, including a wonderful dish of black mushroom stalks, but skip the fried squid, it's rubbery. There's no English menu but they have pictures now (a recent improvement) so you can just look and point.
papa xia (silhouette)
I haven't been to the place before but judging from your description and the pics, I think the shrimps you're talking about are called Mantis Prawns.