The World On A Plate


Girl Eats Dog – Hanoi



Boiled Dog with Dog Liver

I didn’t think it would be possible to beat the psychological horror of eating duck embryo in Cambodia, but in Vietnam I found a viable contender. So far, out of anything I have eaten, this is the single most disgusting thing.

Arriving to the corrugated iron shack just north of Hanoi was atmospheric for all the wrong reasons, and why we were mercifully spared the barking of dogs in the background there was a distinctive smell as we crossed the threshold. As my friend Al was to later observe, it was the only meat which smelled and tasted like the shit of the actual animal.

I should add at this juncture that I do have some very small justification for the crime of eating man’s best friend. I like dogs a lot. But my friend Laura was badly mauled in Cambodia by a rabid dog, and for her, this was a vengeance trip. As a good friend I was duty bound to keep her company.

We ordered dog in every variety, which was boiled, roasted and stewed, and when the first plate of sliced boiled dog came, it included dog liver.


Dog Restaurant

At this stage, the meat didn’t seem too bad. At a real push you could have mistaken the cold meat for beef, and the liver was not too bad at all. Unless, that is, you dwelled too long on where it had come from. Then came the roasted. Again, passable for roasted lamb. Tough, tough roasted lamb. With disconcerting chunks of hair. There was another deeper, darker taste lurking the background. But if you’d been served it in a kebab whilst drunk there is a slim chance you wouldn’t have known the difference. We were then served a highly unwelcome extra – dog sausage. Like black pudding. Only not.


Roast Dog

Finally came the dog stew. I was first to put a chunk in my mouth, and was unable to answer me fellow diners queries as to how it tasted as I was too busy trying not to openly retch. It took a full ten seconds to persuade my heaving stomach to relinquish the powerful urge to vomit and allow the blubbery foul tasting meat down. I gagged. My eyes watered. I drank a half bottle of beer but nothing would take the taste away.


Dog Stew

Lulled into a false sense of security by my silence the people with me also attempted the stew. Similar eye watering retching followed. It was absolutely the most abhorrent thing I have ever eaten by a log long margin. I’m not exaggerating when I say the entire experience honestly had me considering going vegetarian. It was such a foul thing to eat that it made me wonder very seriously if all meat wasn’t this psychologically upsetting, but society has somehow hypnotized us to enjoy it. After all, there were local people in the restaurant for whom the experience was clearly not new.

It took around four days afterwards not to retch at the smell of barbecue smoke, and the real problem came to getting rid of the stuff when we’d finished. We had it boxed up so as not to waste it, and very nearly left the boxes on the table because no-one wanted to touch it.


Dog Sausage

I was all for leaving it in the cab for the driver, but as friend Rob pointed out ‘it might spill dog stew all over the car.” Then he said, “that’s a sentence I never thought I’d say.”

We left the boxes on the back streets of Hanoi, and this at least gave rise to the observation there are precious few beggars (none we saw) in the communist capital. So the one slim silver lining on the whole dreadful experience was I have an interesting counter argument to people who say communism doesn’t work in practice…

There is an entire street dedicated to dog eating heading on the north road of De Song Hong out of Hanoi. Best way to find it is write down Vietnamese for dog ‘thit cho’ and point at it for a cab driver. Thit Cho Nhat Tan is one of the restaurant names. 

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