Living abroad as a sailor has taught me many lessons. One of these experiences has been the world is a very strange place filled with magic and wonder. A secondary lesson is that the world is that what is weird for us in the western hemisphere is not necessarily odd for the other half. Furthermore, living abroad assists in opening the minds of those who experience it and are willing to try everything that the world has to offer. This is, however, only an opportunity which the bold of heart are willing to take.
Especially when that opportunity involves eating cockroaches, scorpions, newts, and grasshoppers! Now, to us in the western world, we had been taught that eating bugs was something of a nasty behavior, akin to acting like a savage. But, in the eastern world, bugs are seen as a delicacy (one which is surprisingly expensive) filled with protein and other goodies for the body. I don’t think it needs to be stated twice; that when some friends challenged the swashbuckler to eat some bugs with them, this sailor simply said “let’s do it”.
This is what eventually led us to Chinju-ya, a bar located conveniently in the China Town district of Yokohama inside of a buildings second floor. You go up a few steps and look to your right and there it is in all of it’s glory, capable of seating at least 20 people max, it’s also reservation only. We were the only ones in there that night with a staff of 2 Japanese girls (both very beautiful), and 1 young man, it was certainly a night to remember. The first thing we did was drink a few shots of sake (I’m a lightweight so it only took a little bit of liquid courage to have me going), and thus began the moment with our first order…
Fried Cockroach (648 Yen): Now, you might be thinking about how gross this is, and you’d be right. As you eat cockroaches you can feel every little hair of the legs on your tongue as you savor the crunchy flavor of… shrimp? Yes, you’ve heard me right fried roaches taste exactly like shrimp except hairier. Their insides are squishy and look terrible, so it’s not really a food that has stylistic appeal. You can see in the video below as my face contorts to match my feelings as I ate this. Needless to say, I still have nightmares about them crawling on my insides. However, 10/10 I would eat again.
Scorpion (2000 Yen): This one was certainly more appealing, with the fact that they are potentially less gross looking than roaches, and also cooler since they have 3 weapons in their body. Scorpion also tasted like shrimp (or chicken?) which was surprisingly tasty. This is definitely something I would eat again. The exoskeleton is surprisingly hard and has a tough texture when chewing. The pincers are almost hollow and have very little meat inside, but the shell is edible and thus you can get to enjoy saying that you fought a scorpion by biting it’s claws off. My friend ate the tip of the tail and while we all thought he was going to get poisoned it turns out that the cooking eliminated all of that away. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this dish for the pricing alone, but if you’re feeling like a big spender connoisseur then this dish is definitely for you!
Newt (1498 Yen): I have one word for this dish and it is “chicken”. Lizards taste almost exactly like chicken and this is no different. It was truly well seasoned and I liked how crunchy it felt. I ate the head of this particular dish in order to gain its essence and powers. I felt like a lizard for the rest of the night that day too. It was a great dish and this is definitely one I recommend to anyone who decides to visit this place.
Grasshopper Pudding (980 Yen): I hated this dish. I hate dessert in general, which meant that eating badly sweetened pudding with caramelized grasshoppers was the worst experience in the world. It had legs sticking out of the pudding, which in my case did not do it any favors presentation wise. My friends and I each had a third of this dish and it was truly awful for me (both of them loved it though). I will not suggest anyone ever try this dish, but let me put it this way; I tried Google translating what it said on the menu three different times and the results were as follows:
“Come to dessert foreign matter sprint gly Shishi-ya of horror, with respect to different Churi adult dessert! To eat be attributed es regret was that Hiroshibun, it is possible to answer 3th” (SIC)
“Once you come to the contamination the small 3 13 Hiroshimata people st880 no feedbacks in Te eav to the home was y 33 in your Hiroshie can dress people” (SIC)
“Desserts foreign material mixed of horror, 3 I E Always Daiuma dessert you come Nenbe and hi Le is not possible to answer the Te retrace 3E5 33 skin ala afil te gu” (SIC)
None of these gave me any idea what to expect after my friends ordered it. I was simply held back in terror when the dish came by. The fact that not even Google figure out what the menu meant was terrifying. 12/10 I would not recommend the grasshoppers.
This marked the end of my night in Yokohama and I had to go eat ramen afterwards to cleanse my palate. The ramen place by the train station with the green sign above the store is pretty amazing, it’s one of those where you put money into a machine and it gives you a tag. The pink one is extremely tasty and especially if you boil an egg in it. If you’re ever in Japan please make sure you visit the bug eating restaurant.
Now the moment you were waiting for please enjoy this video: