When people come to town, I usually have a few tips for things they should do, but when Adam was visiting last week, his suggestion was far more creative than anything I might have come up with.
He wanted to head to Korea Town to eat bugs. Silk worm lava, to be exact.
Adam and his wife Nadiah are really getting into chowing down on insects. They say their research has shown them that bugs are a far more sustainable source of protein than meat and they were shocked at just how good they taste. They believe other people would realize it too, if they got over the ‘ick’ factor and knew how to properly prepare them. So back home in England, they order their bugs online then figure out recipes, such as honey soy grasshoppers, cricket stroganoff and buffalo worm banoffee pie. You can see their progress so far on Nadiah’s very nifty blog.
Now, with me being a vegetarian, Adam was going to be ingesting insects on his own, but I agreed to head there to witness the experience. So we met at Pocha 32, which is hidden at the top of a staircase on 32nd Street. Adam said this was the only place in the city he could find serving up the larva.
The menu was huge and I was surprised to see there were a fair few things for vegetarians, too. We ordered a bottle of Soju – a Korean rice alcohol – and I opted for a squash pancake, while Adam ordered the ‘beondegi’ soup. When he was served, the larva were lurking in a bowl of dark, watery soup.
I have to admit that the smell was pretty grim. It was unlike anything I’d smelled before; kind of earthy and it got right up my nostrils. But it didn’t put Adam off and he happily slurped his way through his bowl of bugs.
When I asked how they fared, he said: ‘As long as you’re ready for the “pop” when you bite them, they’re good.’
While I couldn’t sample all the delicacies, this place was an interesting find with a very extensive menu, and that soju was delicious. In fact, another thing they’re famous for is their watermelon soju – a mix served in half a watermelon and which diners ladle out into drinking bowls.
Thanks for the suggestion, Adam and Nadiah! Good on you guys for giving something new a try but I’ll definitely be leaving the bug eating up to you…
Pocha 32 is on 32nd Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues in Manhattan. You can check out their menu here. The larva that Adam ate also comes grilled, rather than in soup form.