February 20, 2008
146 Ha Ba Trung Street
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
There are some very interesting meats available for consumption in South East Asia. I’ve seen bugs, ostriches, dogs, snakes, bats and even cats for sale. While I draw the line at domesticated animals and insects, I’ll pretty much eat everything else, just as long as it was prepared with love, looks appetizing, and smells good.
With the year of the rat in full swing, a group of friends and I recently ventured outside our comfort zones to try a Mekong Delta specialty—mouse.
The breed of mice served up in local restaurants are not native to the city and are in fact from the countryside. These mice resided in rice fields and feasted on whole grains prior to meeting their makers. If this were America, the words “grain-fed” and “organic” would be touted on the restaurant menus serving up these little guys.
The mice at Huong Rung 2 restaurant are available in two preparations—ro ti (top) and quay (bottom). We ordered one of each to truly get a sense of the range of flavors mice can achieve. The quay mice arrived first. Two chuot quay—barbecued mice—set us back 60,000 VND. Upon their arrival, we scoffed at their scrawniness. Compared to the large fillets and drumsticks we’re accustomed to eating, these looked like beef jerky. At first bite, I found the barbecued mouse decent, but too bony to really dig into. Sometimes I took too large of a bite and chipped off and swallowed some bone, but it was no big deal because mice have really brittle bones.
Everyone agreed that the chuot roti (30,000 VND) preparations were much tastier than the barbecued. Dressed up in a glossy five-spice sauce with hunks of roasted garlic, the mice tasted surprisingly good. Even though the savory sauce didn’t add anymore meat onto the mice’s bones, it enhanced their overall flavor. However, to be honest, just about any creature doused in a garlicky five-spice sauce would be tasty.