Of Duck Livers, Shark Fins, Goats, Bird Nests, and Ya Dong

I might have titled this A Month of Eating Dangerously or something similarly vague, but I find the specifics just draw one in, don’t they? At England in July the most dangerous thing I ate was clotted cream. As dangerous foods go, clotted cream may be my favorite. I have subsequently been to Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and the Philippines, and I have been eating well. I’ve been eating so well, in fact, that I have neglected to take many photos of the food. 

See the satay above, at a restaurant in Bogor, Indonesia? That is goat, and it is superb, rivaling the goat sashimi I had at Okinawa two years ago. You may recall my description of the raw goat meat at Okinawa as “goaty.” The satay at Bogor was mild, tender, and rather more like beef. I would not have known it was goat had I not been told.

What else have I enjoyed recently? How about a starter of duck liver, smoked salmon, grilled apple, and horseradish cream on Thai Airways from Bangkok to Manila? It is a bold chef who puts together that concatenation! And it is an even bolder passenger who eats it.

At Hong Kong I had a dinner at one of the city’s finer hotels and the six course menu included the best shark’s fin soup I have ever had — this dish included crab as well and was a perfect start to a Cantonese meal — and I proceeded then to have abalone and lobster and other delicacies before a dessert of double-boiled bird’s nest in coconut cream. Nice.

I have recently been inspecting the finest restaurants in Bangkok. I’ll describe these adventures in English, primarily, for ease of understanding. I’ve had noodles with pork and crab and wontons filled with shrimp and lots of pepper. I’ve had fried oysters and fried mussels, roti, guavas, coconut milk ice cream on a hot dog bun, more fried oysters, curries of various types, egg pudding with horse, rice and shrimp paste and assorted accompaniments as a salad, grilled pork, river prawns in a salad, vegetables with a fermented rice dip, and lots of _ya dong.

Ya dong is an herb-infused spirit that I usually get for 10฿ per shot from small stands beside the street at night. The version pictured below was a bit posh but every bit as good. The ya dong is in a martini glass, a small portion of green pandan juice is used as a chaser, and there are fresh pickled fruits and some salt and chili to make the drinking experience even more flavorful. I’m doing all of this dangerous eating and drinking with the sole purpose of becoming a better tour guide. So when you come to visit me, I will take you to the best ya dong in Bangkok, and I promise that the dining will be anything but quotidian.

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