Shen Zhen was an amazing three day trip to China I took with my family. It is a great place to go and get away from the hectic Hong Kong life and an easy drive across the border. My friends Natasha and Colin invited my family and I to stay at the JW Marriott and even arranged a food tasting for me to blog and vlog about upon my arrival (that will come in my next blog). What I am really here to tell you all about today are snakes. Yes, you heard me. Snakes. It is a delicatessen and a very popular dish served only in local restaurants. You may be reading this with an incredulous look on your face but I am here to tell you that snakes are D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! Hands down the one thing I always crave whenever I visit Shen Zhen. I did so many fun things this trip but being Gourmand Chic food always, always comes first for me.
My friend Ning took my family and I to eat at a very authentic and popular Shen Zhen restaurant called “Sing Gei Restaurant” (best I can do to translate this from Chinese into Cantonese English) and the english name is The Victory Restaurant Group. The thing you need to know about Shen Zhen is that it is really well known for embracing food from all over China. You can basically find everything, I mean everything, here in this dynamic city. Case in point, look what I saw when I walked into another local restaurant (I shall withhold the name for their sake, just in case). This was literally sitting about 20 feet from the entrance, not in the kitchen, not at the back, just right near the front.
Yes, you are looking at an alligator
I have eaten alligator meat before so that is not what I am shocked about. I am just surprised that they would let it sit in a cage out in the open like that without a care in the world as their customers walk by gawking. I just wanted to touch it! But hey, that is me. I want to touch all animals.
The restaurant itself is quite traditionally designed. We ended up reserving a private room because it is less noisy and we can actually hear ourselves talk. If you want the atmosphere then I would definitely suggest sitting outside.
So the way it works in this restaurant, and for most seafood restaurants in Asia, is you select the fish or “animal” you would like to have served. They show it to you and put it aside for you. Then you either choose the way the restaurant can cook it or you can tell them how you want it done and they usually can accommodate your request. It really is a fun process. It is like shopping and then eating it right away. Instant gratification!
If you want to be even more involved you can stand and watch them cook you entire menu. They have an open kitchen concept. Whereas most restaurants have an open kitchen behind glass, this restaurant literally has an open kitchen where they aren’t standing behind any divider. The stoves are set up so you can stand directly in front of the Chefs as they cook. You can sniff in the delicious aroma of the food being made. It truly makes you even hungrier and more impatient for the dishes to be ready. Sometimes, it even makes you want to order more. Smart marketing I call it.
Now onto what you have all been waiting for. The snake dish. We looked at a few snakes and different types too. We ended up getting a cobra. The way we wanted it served? Fried. It is the best way to eat snake, in my opinion. Of course, I also like snake soup but with the soup you don’t really get to enjoy the flavor of the meat fully. When you have it fried, you can really taste how succulent it is and the salt and pepper really enhances the meat of the snake.
The price on the far left hand sign is for the king cobra
They then weigh your snake and take it into the kitchen to cook
Voila! Fried snake. It doesn’t even look like snake if you didn’t know huh? It looks more like fried eel to me. The taste of the meat is that of a mixture between rabbit and lean pork. Really very tasty.
Even a four year old little girl was enjoying her fried snake immensely. Put most adults to shame. I must have eaten 5 pieces myself. One thing that you may not know is that snake meat is actually very nutritious. In Chinese, we have what we call “hot” and “cold” foods which is basically the ying and yang of food and body. As long as you balance the hot and cold, then you are eating right. Snake is considered to be a “warming” food and the blood of a snake is often mixed with alcohol to produce a virility enhancer. Snake meat also contains a lot of protein which helps with regulating hormones and building cell walls in our body. Snake meat is also quite low in in fat and calories. Another reason to eat more of it, or so I tell myself *wink*
Well, even though the snake was the highlight of our dinner we did order a bunch of other just as nomilicious dishes as well. I will be posting them below. Enjoy and come back for more good food around the world as I am taking off for Italy tomorrow. Arrivederci!
Sauteed Snails in Black Bean Sauce with Garlic and Pepper
Fish Head Clay Pot
Sauteed Snake Skin Dish with Celery and Pepper
Chinese Lettuce and Prawn Paste Clay Pot
Steamed Crab (not Shanghai Hairy Crab but still pretty damn good)