Crustacean Sensation

Long accustomed to the chicken-fried philosophy of Southern cooks, some locals first savored the delectably delicate, deep-fried tempura crust on veggies years ago. It was easy to be instantly hooked on the crunchy, lacelike coating that seemed to have magical flavor-enhancing powers on anything it encapsulated -- even broccoli. The Japanese are usually credited with the cooking technique, but they didn't like it for almost 300 years after Portuguese and Dutch merchants introduced it to them around the turn of the 17th century. Around 270 years later, a street vendor began serving tempura-fried fish that had slept in Tokyo Bay that morning, and it became popular among the common folk. Today, the lobster tempura ($12.95) is food for the gods at Chef g's Seafood & Steakhouse (1915 Westheimer, 713-522-5551). What better to put inside the celestial tempura coating than a plump and succulent pillow of select lobster, the kind that would bring tears to seafood lovers' eyes even if they were eating it naked? It is the perfect blend of crispy and rich -- titillating as both a tactile and taste bud experience. This luscious langosta comes with a trio of dipping sauces: horseradish, bacon-molasses butter and balsamic.

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Carol Rust