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If you are not one to be bound by the usual culinary flavors and aromas, then you might find a lovely treat with exotic dishes. Most people often don’t go beyond the name, its ingredients, or even the way it looks. But what they don’t know is how much gastronomic treasures they are missing. Here are five exotic Chinese dishes that are actually very good!

Bird’s Nest

What is interesting about this dish is that you will be eating an actual nest that is made up of a bird’s saliva. This is the reason why most people skip it entirely because it is literally a “spit in your soup” scenario!

The Bird’s Nest soup earned its popularity due to its curious following. The nests contain saliva from swiftlets, which are little birds indigenous to Southeast Asia. These birds live in caves and are not able to fare well if you take them out of their home. However, this doesn’t stop some people from hunting for these nests and grab their most sought after ingredient. The demand has gone so high which explains the steep prices for a single serve of the soup.

This is more like egg drop soup with a thick consistency, which some often mistake as the saliva component, but it’s not. This is simply brought about by the cornstarch mixed into the stock. Mentally, this soup may not go down easy, knowing that you are downing a bird’s saliva no less, but surprisingly enough it is quite good.

Some people buy into the craze because one of its selling points is its medicinal properties. They say it can strengthen your immune system and aid digestion, but others go for its deemed benefits to one’s libido.

1000-Year-Old Egg

The name is actually a misnomer, so don’t expect dinosaurs or some rare species breaking out of this shell. It got its name because of the way the egg looked after it goes through the process of making it look “vintage.” This is often used as a topping in some dim sum dishes like congee.

Once it is sliced open it appears like something appropriate for Halloween, and not even the edible kind but some decoration. The smell doesn’t help this egg’s case either, so what really is its selling point?

This Chinese delicacy, often made from duck, chicken, or quail eggs are preserved in a mixture of ash, clay, salt, quicklime and rice hull. These eggs are then preserved for several weeks to months. All these processes turn a simple egg into the wicked witch of the west as the yolk turns into dark green or gray in color.

The yolk caresses your mouth with its creamy consistency and leaves a strong flavor brought by the ammonia and hydrogen sulfide. The white part turns into a springy black gel that is salty. All in all, what used to be a tasteless ball of protein now turns into a flavored compound with interesting layers of taste profiles. This is the reason why it makes for a perfect pair against the muted flavors of congee.

Stinky Tofu

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The name alone would make you want to just skip to the next thing on the menu. Known as Chòudòufu in China is a type of fermented tofu that is sold as a snack. There are different variations to this dish with some versions fried golden brown while others are served blackish blue. Aside from frying it can also be steamed or boiled – but the point is that the untoward aroma is a given.

If you are willing to look over the smell, the taste can have one pleasantly surprised. The sauces, which are often concocted to be zesty, tasty or spicy, complements the taste of the tofu. The fermentation gives it that hint of ammonia-like flavor which is oddly highlighted by the sauces that it is drenched in. It may take an acquired taste to really enjoy this dish but it’s a winner for those who have an inclination for strong flavors.

Drunken Shrimp

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Take this name literally and you have a dish that is one for the books! These are live freshwater shrimps that are eaten alive but after they are bathed in a pool of alcohol. This dish gives you the upper hand because as your intoxicated victim swims languidly in their bath, they are made much easier to tackle and enjoy.

Shrimp is undeniably good, but it’s the part where you still feel the little critters wiggling in your mouth that’s the biggest catch. If you are able to endure this, the next part rewards you with the taste. The sauce acts like a marinade of some sort, with different interpretations from different Chinese cooking styles.

Chicken Feet

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When it comes to poultry dishes, the wings, thighs, and breasts are the most preferred areas for cooking – and for good reason. But beyond the crunch, the juiciness and the flavor you can get from these parts, one can also find a good dish with a chicken’s feet.

The chicken feet is a hot item for the Chinese especially way back to a time when other parts cost so much. Poverty pushed them to be creative with what little they have. So what they did is stewed the chicken feet and added some spices and seasoning to spruce it up. The result was nothing short of delicious as it gave a beautiful combination of taste and texture. The obvious form of chicken feet on your plate may be too morbid for some, but it is actually a gem of a dish to many.

Today, braised or stewed chicken feet are one of the most popular dishes in a dim sum menu.

This is just a minuscule of the many odd dishes out there. So I dare you not to stick only to your culinary comfort zone and explore your options. Indulge your senses, may it be quite a feat to stomach. There are actually several palatable gems out of unusual food preparations.

Take your food trip down to Tak Po where you can get the best flavors that bring comfort or excitement to your senses. Call us for your table and enjoy!

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