Eating dog meat in Hanoi, Vietnam

dog head

How much is that doggie in the window? *woof woof*

The one with the waggly tail?

dog head me

How much is that doggie in the window?

dog paws

I do hope that doggie’s for sale!

thit cho

Eating dog meat is popular amongst certain demographics in Hanoi, Vietnam. The place to head to is the row of shops bordering Red River. It is full of mom-and-pop shops with names like thit cho. Thit cho literally means dog meat in Vietnam.

dog meat butcher

It looks like a butcher shop and not a restaurant since all the dog chopping action is happening on the ground floor, but fear not, there is actually a place for people to enjoy a nice meal of canine meat upstairs.

chopping dog meat

I chose a platter of mixed dog cuts to experience the texture and taste of man’s best friend – it’s served with a dipping sauce which tastes like fermented shrimp paste (cincalok) and turns into a vivid shade of purple when my guide mixed it.

cooking dog meat

My guide is a motorbike driver you’ll find loitering around in the Old Quarter – it’s the best way to get around! I negotiated a return trip for VND 5,000 + 1 Beer Hanoi and I get to choose the thit cho place. Pro tip: You should always have the final choice when dealing with local drivers coz they might have kickbacks from certain outlets. I chose the one that had the most locals upstairs – a rowdy bunch that kept on chanting something before drinking their vodka.

dog sausage

The portly woman who owns the place did not appear to be very friendly (she viewed my camera with considerable suspicion) but after one of her staff passed me a piece of dog meat and I ate it before giving her the thumbs up sign, she warmed up to me considerably and led me upstairs. The price for dog meat should range around VND 20,000 to VND 30,000 per 100 grams.

dog meat shoes

You take off your shoes and sit on the floor with a piece of newspaper being the communal dining place in lieu of a proper table. It’s customary to drink vodka with dog meat but I didn’t want to get fucking sloshed and then lose my way in a dodgy part of town so I went with the ubiquitous Bia Ha Noi instead.

dog meat seating

Most people choose a selection of mixed cuts. This is an interesting dish as it comes with pure cuts from the dog (without further cooking) and a mix of dog sausage (which gives a totally new meaning to the word “hot dog” smirk).

dog meat stew

There is also dog stew available – it tastes pretty good but after a while it got a bit cloying due to the amount of oil they use in cooking.

deep fried dog meat

Deep fried dog! Not too bad, but I prefer pure cuts.

dog meat meal

The entire meal (inclusive of beer) only costs VND 180,000 (RM 28) – a fucking bargain if you ask me.

Q&A time!

eating dog meat

I bet most of you is going to ask me this – what does dog meat taste like?

Well, dog meat tastes like dog. I’ve had dog meat in Korea but the dog meat in Hanoi tastes better since it’s not infused with a multitude of flavors. I particularly liked the pure cuts of dog – some parts like the thigh is nigh impossible to eat due to the huge bones and the tough skin and fat, but some cuts are easy enough to chew though.

dog meat upstairs

Dog meat has a very interesting taste to it. It is very odoriferous so people who don’t like mutton probably should stay away from it. You can literally taste/smell the dog as you chew it.

dog meat dip

There’s also a layer of fat between the skin and meat that imparts a very vivid flavor to the dog meat.

dog meat cuts

I love the taste – it’s like a cross between castrated pork and mutton. The meat is tough and the skin is chewy but it’s an experience unlike any other.

dog heads

The canine culinary experience is a must try for everyone with an adventurous palate. Mmm…dog meat.

The entire process of eating rat in China

eating rat

This is a rat. It’s a rodent, but I can’t figure out if it’s a vole, guinea pig, bandicoot rat, Sikkim rat, Lesser rice-field rat or Tanezumi rat coz all rats looks the same to me.

It’s rather large, as you can see by the size of the motherfucker. I searched high and low to eat the infamous rat in Guilin, China and finally managed to get to the damn rodent.

poor rat

The best thing about China is that you can watch the entire process!

scalding rat

…which might be unsavory for all you PETA tree-hugging types, as they first club the poor rodent you choose for dinner to oblivion. BAD RAT! BAD!

…before weighing it (all the better to charge you with).

…and pouring scalding hot water all over it (just to make sure it’s proper dead).

rat hot pot eat

It’s served in a hot pot of sorts and the waitress comes over to refill the broth every now and then so you get tender and juicy rat at a reasonably warm temperature at all times.

rat broth

D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S.

rat dish

How does rat taste like? Hmm…this is kinda like the Matrix question. You’ve got to eat it for yourself. I love the parts which has tendons attached – very chewy. It tastes a bit like bat but with a lot more bones than I’ll like to contend with.

eating rat china

It sure is a good experience though! It cost RMB 400 (about RM 190) and it’s worth every single cent!

Eating snake meat

snake denuded

The slithery one who tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden is served in a course of sorts in China. It’s like Peking duck, the entire snake is prepared and consumed. Your epicurean journey starts with picking the snake you want (snakes are generally quite expensive even by Malaysian standards).

a snake

The live snake is killed before your eyes (making it dead – call me King of Stating the Obvious) and the expert chef stems the flow of blood from the decapitation of the reptilian by some kung fu application to certain veins and arteries.

snake preperation

The snake blood is the first course of the meal.

snake descaling

Next comes the snake gall served in a glass of high proof alcohol.

snake skin

The snake is de-scaled and the snake skin is served as a tasty appetizer.

snake wine

You can also opt to have a snake head wine at this point.

snake

However, I’m going to get into the meat of the post (pun intended) by describing the main course – snake meat. It’s cooked to perfection, Guilin style. I chose the cooking method that is recommended by the chef, a Guilin resident.

snake meat

How does snake meat taste like? Well, I’ve had python before – that was tough and rather dry. However, this tiny little snake makes for a delicious main meal. There are bones but a surprising amount of meat attached to it as well.

eating snake meat me

I found snake meat to be juicy and while I’ll like to say that it tastes like chicken, it does not. smirk

eating snake meat

Snake meat has a very distinctive taste. Words will not do justice to it (you have to try it for yourself, just like the Matrix). It’s tender and juicy, adjectives I would never expect to describe snake meat with, based on past experience.

It’s a little bit on the sweet side too. If I was forced at gunpoint to describe how it tastes like, I’ll say it tastes like the breast meat of chicken crossed with veal. The texture is a little like eel (but not really) – it’s hard to describe, it’s kinda like that but has more of a meat mouthfeel.

snake dish

I thoroughly enjoyed the meal and finished the entire Snake Experience (TM). It is really good stuff. Do not miss the chance to taste snake meat if you come across a live one. It’s just that good!

Eating snake gall

snake gall

It is very popular to drink a concoction of high proof rice wine with the gall from a freshly killed snake in China. I’m not sure about the folklore behind it, but as with most Chinese “tonics” it’s supposed to boost your virility/gives you courage/(insert superlative).

The gall is prepared separately from the snake blood – it’s supposed to be done in two courses. The snake was gutted and the gall extracted before being plonked into the high alcohol content rice wine. The more poisonous the snake, the more sought after the gall is. I’m not sure how toxic it is to eat snake gall, I didn’t Google it before I actually ate it (and not even after that). smirk

I didn’t swallow the gall wholesale, I wanted to taste it so I bit down on it and it burst in my mouth, filling it with juicy and possibly poisonous goo. I can’t say I could taste anything though coz the alcohol numbed my taste buds and it tastes like raw offal anyway.

Well, like I said in the video, I’m still alive and I still highly recommend it for the full snake experience! smirk

Eating snake skin

snake skin

Snake skin is used for a wide variety of products – handbags, shoes etc. However, I still feel that the best use for snake skin is a quick trip down your throat and into your stomach. smirk

I bought an entire snake to have a Full Course (TM) of snake – blood, gall, skin, and meat. I hear the skin is one of the best parts of the snake.

eating snake skin

It was served as an appetizer and comes in spicy and sour tones. I really liked it. It tastes like sea cucumbers except it’s tougher and more chewy.

I give snake skin two thumbs up (would have given it three but I only have two hands). It kinda overshadows the snake meat. It’s served cold and I’ve gotta tell you, I ate one bowl of steaming rice just with this snake skin.

snake skin china

It’s delicious! Think sea cucumber – except it’s harder to chew and swallow. ;)

Fresh snake blood from a real snake

choose snake

I paid about RMB 750 (about RM 375) for a whole snake in Guilin, China. The reason I did that was coz I wanted to drink fresh snake blood – none of the bullshit that comes in jars. How the fuck would you know if it’s from a snake if you don’t see it killed before your eyes?

Being a huge fan of authenticity, I got an entire snake and watched its reptilian head cut off with my own eyes before the chef drained all the blood into a glass containing a high proof local alcohol (excess of 50%).

killed snake

There is a surprisingly small amount of blood in a snake, but it was enough to fill a glass and you’re supposed to down it in a single shot.

How does snake blood taste like? Well, it tastes like blood to be honest – all killer, no filler. Iron aftertaste to the max. I had an uncontrollable itch on my nose for a couple of days after this, whether it’s from the snake blood or the snake gall, I have no idea.

It’s supposed to have medicinal properties, but having pledged my allegience to Rx Incorporated, I don’t believe a word of it. I just wanted to drink snake blood warm from a freshly decapitated snake and proclaim that YES! I HAVE DRUNK SNAKE BLOOD. Now, I can say that with confidence since the slithery one was slaughtered before my eyes.

Yes, if you watched that last video, you’ll nominate me for the cover of Drunk & Disorderly. :p

More snake posts coming up!

Beondegi – Korean silkworm pupa

canned food

I got this can of mystery food in Busan and had it last night for supper. I call it mystery food coz I still don’t know what it is. I don’t read Korean and since I bought this in Korea, there are no English translations anywhere.

Update: I have found out what this is! =D It’s Beondegi Korean silkworm pupa. It’s a very popular snack in Korea and can be found in convenience stores in cans, where I got mine.

korean canned food

It looks remarkably similar to cockroach larvae right?

cockroach larvae

Exhibit A

Update: I emailed the photo below to the Korea Air flight crew that I met and she translated it for it – it is Beondegi (Silkworm). Mmm…I’m so glad I accidentally purchased this! =D

Beondegi Korean silkworm pupa

I would have dedicated a longer post if I knew it was silkworm pupa though, but worry not, I have ANOTHER CAN (had the foresight to get two – haha) so I’ll do a cooking post with that one. :) 

It’s crunchy too, just like how cockroach egg casings sound when you step on it. I found it quite delicious actually.

Turtle eggs preparation recipe and report

turtle eggs

Turtle eggs are considered to be very nutritious and purportedly
have a lot of health benefits. Unfortunately, they happen to be illegal
due to the wildlife preservation enactments to prevent rampant poaching
of turtle eggs (which is a protected species) in Malaysia. However, I
managed to hook up with someone who sells turtle eggs through a
coworker.

turtle eggs sandy

The transaction was very covert, which I found amusing – the turtle
egg seller called to tell us where he is and we got him to deliver it
to the office. He was an overweight slightly grimy looking man carrying
one of those tote bags with probably 100 turtle eggs inside (and also
some porn VCD’s on the sides). I bought 10 turtle eggs off him for RM
15 (it’s RM 1.50 per turtle egg). The turtle eggs are still sandy from
the beach and each one is about the size of a ping pong ball.

turtle eggs wok

I don’t know how to cook turtle eggs, so we brought it downstairs to
solicit the help of Kakak (literally “Sister” in Malay) who works
downstairs. She told us that it can either be eaten raw, or heated lightly (emphasis on lightly) with boiled water. Thus, we set the wok (there’s a kitchen downstairs, sorta) on boil with some water.

turtle eggs washed

The turtle eggs are washed by putting them under running water to
get rid of the sand. The interesting thing about turtle eggs is that
they’re very pliable – it’s so soft that pressing on it will
make indentation marks (as can be seen in the first two photos). The
turtle eggs in their natural configuration also has that property –
surrounding eggs impact each turtle egg by forming recessions around
each other.

turtle eggs cooking

The turtle eggs were then put into the water for a short (less than a minute) amount of time and left to simmer for a bit.

turtle eggs kakak

I also got Kakak to pose for a photo beside the cooking wok with the turtle eggs in it. ;)

turtle eggs cooked

This is what the slightly heated turtle eggs look like. The eggs are
soft and slightly translucent, so that you can see the yolk inside.

turtle eggs bowl

You can eat the turtle eggs by opening up the shell (it’s so soft,
it’s almost like peeling instead of opening) and eating it as it is. It
tastes surprisingly good…it doesn’t need any flavoring for the turtle
egg taste to shine through. Unlike other eggs, turtle eggs have a
distinct musky aftertaste to it.

turtle eggs single

However, I’m told that the proper way to enjoy turtle eggs is too peel off a small hole at the top…

turtle eggs single sauce

…and put a drop of soy sauce inside to flavor it, before sucking the whole egg contents.

This method of consumption is more visceral and much more enjoyable. :)

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