Fried Heng Hwa Bee Hoon 兴化炒米粉
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It began as a dare. My friends and I had heard of an upscale restaurant in Phnom Penh that specialized in fried tarantulas. After a long week at work, we decided to meet for dinner and eat the spiders. I arrived at the restaurant and met up with a close friend. As we sat down at our tables, two waiters passed by with a box of live tarantulas ready to be fried. Thank goodness I didn’t peer into the boxes.
When the rest of our colleagues arrived, we promptly ordered the tarantulas. Minutes later, they arrived. They sat on the plate lifeless, but other than a brownish coating they looked like they were more still and alive than dead. You expected them to crawl at any second, which made them more frightening-looking. My adventurous friend grabbed the first spider and began to eat the legs. I thought to myself, “If she can do it, then so can I.” After squirming for 15 minutes, I started to take apart the legs and eat it. Mind you, I had to look up the entire time while taking apart the tarantula to eat it. Looking and eating at my food at the same time would be too much.
The legs weren’t that bad. It was crunchy, like eating fried sticks. The abdomen wasn’t that bad either. It had a thicker, meatier texture. By far the most difficult part to eat was the head. I took one bite and instantly felt like I had tasted a semi-condensed form of blood sausage or a blood sausage that hadn’t been fully cooked. As soon as I began to taste the head, I abruptly swallowed it. While my friends and I were writhing in fear over eating the tarantulas, a film crew shooting a Chinese travel show saw us at the restaurant eating them. Seeing the spectacle of Western women eating fried spiders prompted them to ask us to be filmed. We agreed. I’m highly amused that somewhere in China, there’s a travel episode shown on television where my friends and I are uncomfortably eating spiders.
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