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Sunday, December 21, 2014

11 Exotic Food Safe to Eat

They say the Chinese eat everything.
I'm the type of Chinese who tries everything. 

There are times when for a split second, i think about food poisoning and tummy runs, but i've eaten exotic food both at fancy restaurants and street stalls. 

Lived to tell the story, here's my list of exotic food that is safe to eat. 

1) Witchetty Grub
Fish and chips in Western Australia was so boring that i had to look for something that makes my stomach churn. If you manage to hold back the bile rising up your throat on the thought of eating a maggot, you'll be pleasantly surprised that it tastes like buttery mushy crab. I like crabs, so this was tasty. Best eaten hot. 
Find it at
The Coolgardie Safe
101 Edward St, East Perth WA

2) Fish Sperm
Have you seen the very graphic frog sashimi Youtube video where the frog is still blinking and wadding on the plate? I've not reached that level yet, but i've tried the sperm sac of a cod fish that looks like brain. Served cold, like sashimi, it is without any dipping sauce. The sac remains intact, thus its really one bite and its gone. As you bite the sac in your mouth, it bursts, filling your mouth with sperm. Then you get this super creamy bean curd texture with a strong fishy after-taste and smell. 
I was surprised to learn that sperm don't look all the same amongst fish. This is a pufferfish's sperm sac.
A skilled Japanese chef will boil it to optimal before serving you drizzled with ponzu sauce and chives. 
A meatier bite compared to the cod fish sperm, the taste is masked by the sauce. If i didn't know what it is, i would have mistook it for boiled chicken. 

Find it at 
Akashi Japanese Restaurant
290 Orchard Road, Paragon Shopping Centre, Singapore 

3) Newborn Eels
Also at Akashi, newborn eels look like this (chef's finger pointing to its head, do you see the eye?)
It looks like flat rice noodles, which i can't quite chew because it was too slimy. It slides around my tongue before i swallowed. As i bite into its tiny head, it bursts and a tiny bit of tasteless liquid filled my mouth. 

4) Giant Tuna Eye
The Chinese believe that sucking on fish eyes will make one's eyes brighter and more intelligent. I've never sucked on a fish eye, but instead upgraded immediately to a giant fish eye. The eye is grilled (picture is raw) with a lot of meat to pick! Tastes like the regular fish, except that it's staring right back at you. Find it also at Akashi. 

5) Whale Burger
Whale meat is overrated. It is 10 times more pungent than mutton, tough and not delectable like say, wagyu beef. When cooked, it looked almost black. 
Don't Find it at 
Lucky Pierrot Hamburger
Hokkaido, Japan

6) Rabbit Head
While certain part of Europe fancy rabbit leg, the Chinese in Sze Chuan go rabid over rabbit heads.
Delightfully 麻辣 spiced, you have to gnaw at it and train that tongue to get juicy bits of meat from the nook and cranny of that skeleton. There isn't much meat, like fish eye and chicken feet, which is consistent with the Chinese's habit of gnawing at bone. The tongue and the brain of the rabbit head is considered the essence of the entire snack. The tongue tastes foul, and the brain tastes like egg yolk. The little meat i can get out of the rabbit's cheek, tasted like very tender chicken. Instagram video here.
Find it at
双流老妈兔头 (Shuang Liu Lao Ma Tu Tou)
ChengLong Avenue HuaHui Market

7) Snake
When I had enough of dim sum in Hong Kong, and asked my guide for something new, he took me to this famous snake restaurant that even had Gordon Ramsey's picture on the wall. We had snake soup and fried snake chunks. 
Despite the snake meat tasting like chicken, I somehow couldn't finish an entire bowl of soup even though it was just a small one! It felt too heavy on the stomach. I preferred the fried snake chunks as they were spiced. I didn't think i would find bones!
Locals (not everyone) eat snake during winter to keep warm! Not sure if its a self fulfilling prophecy, but i did feel warm and alitttle heady after consuming these snakes. 
The restaurant keeps live snakes (for killing) in wooden drawers and keeps a phyton as a pet.
Find it at
170 Apliu Street,Shamshuipo, Kowloon (HKR Station, Exit A2, turn left)

8) Starfish, Seahorse and Baby Scorpions
Expecting the starfish and seahorse to taste like sand in my mouth, it wasn't. Anything fried always tastes good. The scorpion is my favourite, tasting like salt pepper chicken. Its crisp little body squirt juice in my mouth. The seahorse and starfish surprisingly (or not) smell and taste very fishy. The seahorse tastes like very crispy ikan bilis while the tasteless starfish needs a harder bite. Instagram video here. This night market also have many other hair rising options, but they weren't on display for sale when i visited. Tarantulas and lizards were probably not in season?

Find it at
王府井夜市 (Wang Fu Jing Night Market)
Beijing, China

9) Duck Got My Tongue

I missed out the opportunity to try out monitor lizards in salted egg yolk and shit (not kidding, shit was on the menu) in Saigon

And i hunted high and low for the penis restaurant in Beijing to no success.

For any virgin hoping to pop their exotic-food cherry, i would recommend sampling it in Singapore first. After all, my mother nation is stringent in food safety and hygiene. Every food stall is licensed and has to display the government certificates that grades stalls from A to D. With penalties and pressure, i hardly see any food stalls graded C and D. Most are Bs. 

I love taking visiting friends to the Geylang food trail. Where i introduce them to crocodile soup (cures asthma), black chicken (nourishing), turtle soup (build stamina) and more. 
My favourite is stewed frog legs, otherwise garlic butter escargots (snails) at Jack's Place.
Just the other night, we saw eggs (with shell) pierced on a stick on a BBQ grill on the street. I excitedly bought them (3 for $1) thinking they must be baluk (Philippine street snack of a half grown embryo still in egg shell). I got my camera out, heart pounding, palms sweating, unsure what's going to reveal as my friend un-peeled it. It was very anti-climax when we realized it was nothing what we thought, just egg custard 0_0

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