What it is: Snake Soup
Location: Backstreet restaurant, Gongbei
I haven’t posted a review for a while, and snake seemed to be the obvious last thing to try before I leave this city next week. A friend told me there was a restaurant specializing in Snakes in the Macau-bordering city area of Gongbei. I went there on Chinese New Year’s Eve, to find most of the shops and restaurants boarded up or shuttered down. It took a good half hour of wandering before I found one that was open. Fortunately it turned out to be the one I was looking for.
Outside there were cages full of snakes.
These are bred in snake farms in the next province and shipped down in boxes. I asked how much it was for a big snake. It was 750 yuen, which works out at about 50 of our British pounds, way out of my price range. Smaller snakes were available for as little as 300 yuen, still too much for me. A little bargaining later he agreed to make a little snake soup for 25.
It came in a couple of minutes.
It looked like a normal Cantonese-style soup, only perhaps a little thicker than usual. The cloudy colour you can see is, I think, glutinous rice. I took a sip.
It din’t really taste of much at all – just a plain vegetable stock broth, but as thick as a “western” soup and with a very slight spicy heat.
The solid contents were shredded onions, carrots, red cabbage and snake.
The bits of snake were fairly small, but recognisable as reptilian as the skin remained intact on each piece.
I didn’t know snake skin was edible, but it does seem to make sense. It smelled perfectly normal. I felt no hesitation in tucking in.
The bits of snake were fairly long, and some required sucking in, like a thick piece of pasta.
I hate to be finally saying this, but it really did taste like chicken. The texture was fairly similar too, though perhaps a little more chewy and gristly. Not like a particularly tasty chicken either. The skin was even like a roast chicken’s. There was a little chewing involved, but otherwise there was no difficulty in finishing off the bowl.
Apparently snake is the most healthy meat of all, containing only omega-3 oils. This fact is perhaps some consolation for paying 25 yuen for a small bowl of not particularly interesting soup.
At this point the tables were being packed up and we were being bothered by a prostitute, so we paid up, made our excuses and left.