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Wonder What's for Dinner?
Wonder What's for Dinner?
Members only, but diners don't find it hard to swallow
THE menu at Beijing's latest venue for its growing army of gourmets is eye-watering rather than mouth-watering.
China's cuisine is renowned for being "in your face" - from the skinned dogs at food markets to scorpion kebabs in street stalls - and there is no polite way of describing Guolizhuang.
Situated in an elegantly restored house beside Beijing's West Lake, it is China's first speciality penis restaurant.
Here, businessmen and government officials can sample the organs of yaks, donkeys, oxen and even seals. In fact, they have to, since they form part of every dish - except for those containing testicles.
"This is my third visit," said one customer, Liu Qiang. "Of course, there are other restaurants that serve the bian [penis] of individual animals. But this is the first that brings them all together."
Since it set up in November, a booking comes with a trained waitress and a nutritionist to explain the menu and its medicinal virtues.
In China, you are what you eat. Nutritionist Zhu Yan said the clients were mainly men eager to improve their yang, or virility. Women could benefit, too, she added, although she told a female photographer: "I wouldn't recommend the testicles. The testosterone might interfere in fertility. But many women say bian is good for the skin."
Some dishes seem unexceptional, such as the goat penis, sliced, dipped in flour, fried, and served skewered with soy sauce.
But others are showpieces, such as "Head crowned with a Jade Bracelet" (provided by horses from the western Muslim region of Xinjiang), for $A47, or "Dragon in the Flame of Desire" (yak, steamed whole, fried and flambeed) for $82.
For beginners, Ms Zhu recommended the hotpot, which offers a sampling of six types of penis, and four of testicle, boiled in chicken stock by the waitress, 22-year-old Liu Yunyang.
The Russian dog was first. It was julienned, and rather gamey. The ox was the most recognisable, even though it had been diced. Its texture seemed identical to gristle.
The deer and the Mongolian goat were surprisingly similar: a little stringy, they had the appearance and feel of overcooked squid tentacles. The Xinjiang horse and the donkey looked like bacon, the horse was light and fatty, while the donkey had a firm colour and taste. The testicles were slightly crumbly, and tasted better with lashings of the sesame, soy and chilli dips thoughtfully provided.
Canadian seal penis costs a hefty $517 and requires ordering in advance.
Ms Liu confessed that the restaurant was an unusual place to work. This is partly because of her training - she has to recite tales proving the vigour of the animals in question as they are being eaten - and partly because of the interaction with the clientele. "I did find it embarrassing at first," she said. "And sometimes the customers take advantage of me by asking rude questions."
As for health benefits, Mr Liu, the most regular customer, was uncertain but hopeful. "I can't say I've noticed any difference yet," he said. "But it's a long-term thing."
2/18/2006 7:32 pm
If I was in China, I am a dick |
2/18/2006 7:37 pm
Don't remind me of exotic food. Makes me sick |