“bizarre eats” by Linh Phanroy on the Word, a monthly magazine in Sài Gòn is so interesting. She listed dozens of dishes which will be strange to you, if you are not Vietnamese. So what are they? And how do they taste? Read Linh’s words.

    1. Weasel coffee

    Widely known to the locals as “cà phê chồn”, it comes from the digested remains of coffee beans pass through weasel like animals called civets. Civets are known to eat only the best and ripen coffee beans, once passed, the beans are believed to have undergo a transformation that gives them a uniquely smooth flavour. As mouth-watering as a cat poop coffee sounds, it is highly sought after by coffee connoisseurs. But beware, they are very hard to find and sellers claiming their authenticity should be questioned. The Trung Nguyên coffee brand does offer their version of this called Legendee. Legendee is produced by an enzyme treatment process developed exclusively by the company that mimics the changes produced in the coffee beans by civets.

    Try it at Trung Nguyen café

    Comments: Weasel coffee will be a unique gift for any coffee fan. Don’t forget to get some for your family!

     2. Scorpions

    Reigning as one of the kings of posh bizarre eats. The scorpion’s fierce aesthetic appeal draws many to taste its power. While quite chewy with a fishy taste, its allure makes it taste better. Served grilled or boiled, most start with the tail. There is no need to worry about its poisonous back end, as cooks are trained in preparing the emperor of insects. Many people like eating them, especially while drinking alcohol. So the next time you try to get the courage up to relish in its glory, just remember how good a surf and turf goes down.

    Hương Lúa Restaurant: Located at the intersection of Trương Định & Kỳ Đồng, takes around 20 minutes from downtown by taxi.

    Comment: Hương Lúa is popular with locals and it is not far from downtown, it takes 15 minutes by taxi. If you are interested in this emperor of insects, get on a cab and go.

    3. Hột Vịt Lộn

     This is a fertilised duck egg, called hột vịt lộn in Việt Nam . Inside the shell is what one could describe as a duck abortion. A fertilised egg is allowed to incubate until some days before maturity. It is dropped into hot water when it is no longer an embryo, but not yet a fetus. Fertilised duck eggs have long been popular in Southeast Asia countries, especially Cambodia , Philippines and Việt Nam . The best hột vịt lộn is 17 day old fetus. The beak and bones are unrecognisable at that time.

    Boil the egg for 30 minutes, crack it and eat while still warm. Dip in salt, pepper and eat with Vietnamese cilantro to enhance the flavours. It has almost all the vitamins and nutrients a human needs. Try it. But take this advice, at least for the first time: close your eyes. In traditional Vietnamese medicine, fertilised duck egg is considered a high protein snack that is very good for human health.

    It is believed to be an aphrodisiac for male and female. Eat one for children and two for adults. It is said to be very good for blood, memory and growth because fertilised duck egg has high contents of vitamin A and beta carotene. Studies show that up to 90% of malnourished children treated with fertilised duck eggs have obtained better results than those treated with multivitamins. We have to eat hột vịt lộn with “rau răm” to make it balance between yin and yang. Fertilised duck egg is considered as yin while rau răm is yang. Rau răm is good for the eye and stomach. This egg is available at every beer street in town.

    Commenthột vịt lộn with tamarind sauce or deep fried in batter is tasty. It was surprising to know that some people can eat 10 to 20 eggs once.

    4. Crickets & silk worm

    These noble insects are sure to leave a bitter after taste. Historically, silk worms were eaten by a sign of nobility. Silk worms and cricket have always been held in high respect among many Asian countries stemming from the usefulness of each. The silk worm helped Asia connect to the western world. The cricket goes back to a sign of good luck. The consistency of the silk worm is much more pleasant to the average palate than the cricket. The crickets are generally dry and crispy. While the silk worm pops upon the initial bite, it then goes down smoothly. Usually served roasted or in candy form, these nutritious bugs will keep you masticating your dignity away. They can also be found in pre-seasoned batches, ready to cook, in the refrigeration section of local supermarkets in Sài Gòn .

    Comment:  Deep fried crickets are crunchy and taste like peanuts. They are high in protein.

    5. Dog

    Dog Meat or thịt chó is a specialty in northern Việt Nam , arisen from famines during the many years of war in the country. Its peculiar flavour is similar to rabbit, only a bit sweeter and fattier. In general, dog meat comes in three variations. The most popular styles are grilled over an open fire with ginger, spices and oil; boiled and served with mắm tôm, a shrimp paste with one of the foulest smells ever or a bean paste and sour rice; or sausage style made from intestines filled with dog meat and fat. Everything comes accompanied with noodles, soup, bamboo and lá mơ, a green leafy vegetable, star fruit and lemongrass. Anybody wishing to dine on a pooch should head to Cống Quỳnh, near the Thái Bình Market. With the prices of dog meat are higher than that of the standard farm animal, it’s considered a wealthier person’s meat.

    Comment: Not all Vietnamese eat dog, just a few people, especially those from the north. Dogs are mainly caught in the countryside then sold to the restaurants.

    6. Geckos

    These reptiles are believed to help cure asthma and pains. Geckos are of such high demand that diners have to reserve them several days in advance. The gecko is best when barbecued extra crispy to mask the bones grinding through your teeth. The texture is chewy and crunchy.

    7. Field rats

    Considering a fine delicacy in central Việt Nam , the field rat has been making its appearance at the dinner table for thousands of years. But this is not your everyday street rat. They are caught in rice fields from the countryside. Rat may taste like chicken. There are many restaurants that serve this dish.

    Comments: The rice rats taste even better than chicken. The deep fried ones dipping with fish sauce is so delicious.

    8. Tiết canh

    “Raw blood soup” is common sight throughout Việt Nam. Rich in protein, its flavour is slightly metallic and is designed to be consumed with beer. In the north, this pudding is eaten for breakfast, particularly by country people, as an alternative to “phở”. It is made from raw blood, usually duck, and sprinkled with crushed peanuts.

    Comment: only a few Vietnamese people like eating “raw blood”.

    9. Cow testicles

    Knowing that many people want to eat cow testicles, a key ingredient in cow testicles is the energy pumping taurine. While you may not want to replace your morning coffee with a pair of these bad boys, there is no stopping this famous dish among testes enthusiasts. All of whom when interviewed replied “it makes you strong in bed”. While it may not give you wings, at least it will make you more physically capable of pleasing the opposite sex. Traditionally they are served in a broth and eaten like meatballs. The best recommendation is to savour in all the juices. Look for it at Phở Phương Mai restaurant, Đinh Tiên Hoàng,Q1.

    10. Snails

    Vietnamese love eating snails and they eat different kinds of snails. Variety of cooking styles and different sauces that make snails so tasty. You can easily find the whole street selling snails that is full of people eating this delicacy.

    Comment: They eat snails and drink beer every night.



    • A snack and a medicine. (2008, November 22). The Saigontimes Weekly, p43.
    • Linh Phanroy. (2010, March). Bizarre eats. The word Ho Chi Minh City, p72-74.
    • Richard Sterling. (2011, January). Hot vit lon. Asia life Ho Chi Minh City, p42.
    Published 17/01/2013 Viewed 3015 Category DINING
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