"Crispy Tahong," aka Crunchy Whole Green Mussels, are made by the same company which packages Crispy Squid Heads (previously reviewed here.) I try never to assume that I'm going to like a given product based on a different product by the same company, but I was thinking something like, "What the hell, it's just a buck, what have I got to lose?" when I put a packet of Crispy Tahong into my cart.
When I opened the bag, I first started to suspect I might not be enjoying these as much as the squid. The murky smell of low tide on the salt flats flooded my face. It wasn't just a briny seaweedy smell, either - it was more of a concentrated and slightly rancid nori odor that carries hints of salt water and seaweed slowly dessicating in the sun, of dead shellfish yawning in the sun as seagulls pick at them, of fish heads rolling up and down the shingle with the tide.
The flavor wasn't horrific, though. Extremely strong and concentrated essence of shellfish. Old shellfish right on the cusp of being where I wouldn't want to eat it, but shellfish nonetheless. The little mussels had been dried not fried, and they were certainly crunchy, but in a brittle and shattery way that spread tiny mussel crumbles around my mouth, over and under my tongue, between cheek and gum like some sort of algaenated snuff. Crispy Tahong overloaded my Shellfish Sensors and sent them into a death spiral.
While I'm probably never going to enjoy them as a snack, I did find that they weren't bad as an addition to a bowl of seafood ramen (just sprinkle a few of them into the bowl before added the water - the mussels will plump up and rehydrate with the water and add their noriness to the soup.) Remember to just sprinkle a few, because believe me that will be all you need.