Unless you’ve been to an Asian street food market, you might be surprised that eating insects is actually very common around the world. It’s so common that it has it’s own term: entomophagy.
The most common edible bugs are caterpillars, beetles, cicadas, ants, crickets, wasps, termites larvae and locusts.
The different bugs are in most instances seen as delicacies that can be more expensive than beef. This is probably because insects have a delicate texture and intense flavours of umami, nuts and chanterelle.
We can only encourage you to try the local cuisine if you are travelling to an entomophagic nation. It will undoubtedly widen your gastronomic horizons.
These are some of the places we’ve been fortunate enough to try local bugs.
Romdeng, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Romdeng is set in a beautiful outdoor terrace in the otherwise noisy Phnom Penh. Romdeng serves crispy tarantulas (not technically an insect) as well as other local delicacies such as frogs’ legs. Romdeng is also a global alliance of training restaurants working to build futures for former street youth, marginalized young people and adults.
The Southern Barbarian, Shanghai, China
You might have trouble finding this one, but it’s worth the quest! When you’ve managed to find the creaky wooden staircase after a walk through the sketchy-looking alley you’ve come to the right place. Although the restaurant doesn’t have the best vibe, it’s cheap and a great experience.
Obviously we skimmed the Yunnan menu for anything bug-related and the result was slightly overwhelming, even for us.
We had crispy scorpions that have a surprisingly similar taste to bacon as a starter. Then we had bamboo caterpillars that had a nutty-chanterelle flavor, grasshoppers and fried wasps, which mainly tasted greasy with a hint of nuttiness.
As a side we had wood bugs, which is probably the least appetizing bug we’ve had the pleasure of eating. They have a leathery chew and inside they are soft and slightly juicier than we prefer them.
We hope you didn’t scare you away from the place it really is a fantastic gastronomic experience. This is the restaurant we’ve tried with the widest selection of edible insects.
The Black Ant, La hormiga negra
In fancy surroundings in the East Village you can find the Black Ant and experience their fine dining take on eating juicy Mexican bugs.
We had guacamole with black ant salt and croquetas with chapulines and a delicious cocktail with mescal and grasshopper salt. Highly recommendable for a festive evening.
Toloache, Theatre District, New York City
Toloache is our idea of a perfect dinner spot. It has a laid back atmosphere, with great service and most importantly damn tasty food. We had the most delicious and filling tacos with chapulines (a Mexican grasshopper) and a smoky Mezcal cocktail with ant salt on the edge. Just divine!