It’s a Man Eat Dog World

Posted by - October 8, 2011 | Category: Canteen

I like a good adventure, except when it involves my stomach.  That’s when “intrepid me” meets “queasy me”, and “queasy me” wears the pants in that relationship.  All adventure comes to a halt.

When I took a cooking class in Thailand, I admitted that I am no foodie.  I like my staples, but I have been trying to branch out along the way.  I never did try guinea pig in Peru, but I have been consuming some suspect meats since the start of this trip.  The first day I arrived in Thailand, I bellied up to the nearest sidewalk stall, and chowed down on some of Bangkok’s sketchiest street meat. I figured if I was going to get sick on this trip, might as well get it out of the way early.  No sense prolonging the inevitable.

 But it was delish.

In Rach Gia in southern Vietnam, I ate some boiled blubbery mess because it was the only place open near my hotel. 

Not so delish.

Some days though, we crave normal.  And on this day, I had a hankering for something akin to meat and potatoes.  The culinary equivalent of a safety blanket.  So when I spotted a Hanoi restaurant spilling over with westerners, I figured I had happened upon the Vietnamese version of Applebee’s — bland predictable, and…safe.  I had visions of giant burgers and super-sized fries, chocolate shakes and apple pies  A la mode no less.  “Queasy me” was about to become “greasy me.”

It was just what I craved.

I sat down, flipped open the menu, and this is the first thing I saw…

Dog Meat on Menu, Vietnam

Thankfully the menu was devoid of any photos. I knew that they served dog meat in Vietnam, but this was my first encounter with “Thit Cho” on a menu. 

Perhaps the bar across the street from the restaurant should have been a warning sign…

Hair of the Dog Bar, Hanoi Vietnam

The rest of the menu didn’t look too promising either…

Pig's ovary menu, Vietnam

Not a cheeseburger slider or mozza stick in sight.  Although the pig’s ovary did have a nice ring to it, I passed on that one.  And since I prefer my intestines large as opposed to the small variety on offer, I opted for the safest choice on the menu – chicken fried rice.

Not so safe after all.

Chicken Fried Rice with chicken bone, Hanoi Vietnam

See those shiny white bits there?  That’s bone.  Chicken bone.  Or perhaps chicken beak.  I’m not entirely sure.  At this point I was questioning if it was even chicken I was eating at all.  And although I never did see a “Management Reserves the Right to Substitute Cocker Spaniel” sign, one can never be certain in these parts.

Sometimes, when you crave normal, life hands you the exact opposite. And a reluctant ”intrepid” you become.

What strange foods have you seen on a menu?     Have you tried any?

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83 comments - add one
  1. Great to read that I’m not the only one whose not so “intrepid” when it comes to my stomach… I don’t know if I could have even eaten at that place. I’m sure I would have been convinced that everything I was eating was dog. Lol.

    And pig ovary? Really? Gross.

  2. oh wow… pig’s ovary!!! speechless LOL

    i’ve eaten dog meat once and didn’t like it… i ate grilled snakes, croc and frogs in siem reap… just as they say… “taste like chicken” lol…

    have you tried balut?

    1. I’ve had croc in South Africa — it tasted quite sweet!

      My co-workers in Manila kept bringing balut in, but I never did try it. I just can’t get past the “beak” thing… 😉

  3. Oh Vietnam! The menu was probably my favorite adventure. Did your menu also have fried gecko? You see the lizards everywhere, but are a little shocked to find them on your menu. We ordered scallion chicken one night and even though the man told us it was a whole chicken, we were still surprised when he came by with an entire chicken, head to toe. Yum! 🙂

    1. No gecko on mine thankfully. And I still can’t get used to all those chicken heads everywhere. They look so sad. Like they still had so much cluck left in ’em… 🙂

  4. Wow. And I thought fish eyeballs were bad. Ovaries gross. And I have friends who have tried the dog and said it was not bad. No way for me. I would have thrown up. I hate getting those pieces of chicken whathaveyous in my mouth…I feel like I am going to chip a tooth or something. Shit. Those days you wish for a 7-11 and some ham and cheese toasties.

  5. Quite an impressive menu there. I encountered a menu in HCM that also had some not your usual meat items too… Including armadillo and weasel. They don’t waste any meat in Vietnam. I went the safe route ordering frogs & snails. :-\

  6. The picture looked, uh… appetizing. We grappled with trying dog while we were in Korea. We are the “try anything once” kind of people but there’s just something about eating man’s best friend that didn’t sit well with us. We ended up passing on the dog but we did stomach live octopus, chicken feet, and balut (in the Philippines).

  7. That chicken fried rice is usually on the menu in China as Chicken Gristle – it’s the soft bones and you’re actually supposed to chew and swallow them. I’ve still not got used to it…

  8. Definitely my most intrepid was barbequed porcupine on the floor of a village hut. But there’s something about porcupines that doesn’t feel quite so pet-like. Thought it’s risky, I think I’d have settled for the chicken too….

  9. [email protected] says:

    Absolutely STERLING post, Raymond – you had me grinning all the way through it! 😉

    Then again… uh-oh! Is THIS what I have to look forward to in 3 weeks????

  10. I also skipped the dog in Hanoi, went for some snake instead 😉 Yesterday I had the most fresh food I’ve ever had. “Fresh shrimps”, turns out fresh in Thailand has a different meaning to Europe, the “fresh shrimps” were very much still alive and jumping out of the bowl and your spoon. Tricky to eat 😉

  11. There’s also cat restaurants in Vietnam.
    When we lived in Ho Chi Minh City, I refused to go the back way to the airport, because it went through an area that was full of dog and cat restaurants. And you know how they cook on the streets in Vietnam?
    I’m adventurous in some ways, but not when it comes to eating animals. Darling Man, on the other hand, chowed down on some fried grasshoppers our second night in Thailand. Sigh. No kisses for him for a week!

    1. haha — yeah grasshoppers don’t tickle my fancy so much either. I think I ccould chow down on cat though if I was forced to. Cats and I don’t get along, so it’s nice for them to get their comeuppance… 🙂

  12. Oh dear, oh dear. The chicken beaks would have thrown me more than the dog meat!!The worst I had to devour was a raw sheep eye and no, it wasn’t on any menu, it was in a tent in the Sahara put before me by touaregs as their guest of honor. I had no choice, down it went, the problem was keeping it there.

    1. Never saw boar’s balls, but I wasn’t really shopping around for them. You can get bull’s balls in Calgary — they call ’em “prairie oysters”… 🙂

  13. Ewww, did it at least taste like chicken? I’m not very adventurous when it comes to trying different kinds of meat either. I also passed on the guinea pig in Ecuador and won’t be trying dog anytime either.

  14. Traditionally, Koreans have been eat dog meats, because it was just a meat for them: beef, pork, and dog. It’s just cultural thing.
    But personally, I don’t eat it. Not judging, just I prefer not to eat it. 🙂

  15. We were at a Korean BBQ place in Hong Kong and they tried to sell us dog… luckily the lady told us that it was “bark bark” and so we didn’t get it! Thank god!

  16. When I was in Hong Kong years ago I was not intrepid at all….I ate spaghetti and McDonalds the whole time. Now I would be more adventurous than that, but I don’t know if I could stomach eating dog (or stomach eating stomach for that matter.)

  17. Ha! Pig ovary? That’s a staple in the Aussie on the Road household!

    My strange foods have included:
    – Dog soup
    – Still moving octopus tentacles
    – Still living sea cucumber
    – Deep fried grasshopper
    – Boiled silkworm

    Mmm… delicious!

  18. I will try just about anything once.
    -Snake is tasty, once you get around the cartilage/bones
    -Grasshoppers are awful
    -Laos bamboo grubs are great as a snack
    -The congealed blood that looks like red-tofu is surprisingly flavourless.

    I haven’t had dog though. When we were in Sapa we did see a dog on a spit roast on the street. An interesting sight!

    I remember one rough street meal in Cambodia we got a soup/stew kind of thing full of all sorts of things.
    “hmm, chickens heart? This looks a liver… And what is this??? A chicken spleen???”

    1. “The congealed blood that looks like red-tofu is surprisingly flavourless” — yes, I believe they must use it for a pop of colour only…to accednt the grubs…lol..

  19. I think I would have left after seeing that menu! I got a parasite at some point on my travels in Portugal. I’m not exactly sure where, but it was the trip I decided to become an adventurous eater and not just order the safe options. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy with that decision. I would rather be well enough to see my destination than sick as, dare I say it, a dog.

  20. Oh yuck. I am mostly vegetarian and am a cautious eater on the road. In 20 years of travel, I’ve never gotten sick from the food. I’m not big on eating any animal– I don’t judge them for eating dog… That chicken mix you got might be grosser than the dog meat.

  21. Oh dear. I lived/worked in China once and ate a lot of delicious stuff, but also some really strange things, like chicken feet and fried cow veins on a stick. It was handed to me as a snack and I had no idea what it was. But to top it off, I unwrapped what I thought was a piece of candy, with the pink shiny wrapping and a Donald Duck lookalike on it, only to find out it was duck’s heart. I was less keen all of a sudden…

  22. Janky. I wonder how they dress up the boiled pig’s ovary. Does it come with a sauce, or layed on a bed of lettus, with a toe nail garnish sprinkled on the side?

    Thanks for this post! I think I’ll make lunch =)

  23. Just ate grubs and dragonfly tonight. Should probably have gone for the bee larvae, but they were alive. I won’t be eating either again, but I’m glad I did it…

    Other weird stuff? Insects, snake, bizarre innardy bits, duck’s bill, jellyfish, chicken feet, camel — I tend to try anything I haven’t tried before.

  24. I will eat almost anything really. I will not eat a dog, a cat, a monkey, etc. I have seen horrendous pictures of the animals conditions. I know I eat beef, I know pork and chicken and yes I know all farmers arent so ethical but dog…. no way . I think I would be vegetarian in too many countries.