Mouthfuls of Danger! – Eating Creepy Vietnamese Food
We ate the creepiest Vietnamese food at Saigon’s weirdest restaurant – and survived. The tarantulas and scorpions looked dangerous, but surviving only meant that we didn’t run away screaming or hurl all over the table. Even so, we are oddly proud of this Vietnamese food adventure. We put ourselves to the test by putting some seriously scary and disgusting things in our mouths.
Vietnamese Food – Creepy
“The scary Vietnamese food was a bigger challenge for me than for Steve. I’ve done everything from skydiving to swimming along Bull Sharks (no cage!), but all creepy crawlies make me cringe, especially tarantulas. I grew up in Texas, where everything is bigger – including tarantulas.”
“As a girl, I had a few terrifying experiences with tarantulas. I guess I was about 4 the first time I saw one. It looked like a hairy giant to me, and I was scared to death. Those terrifying images of a monster spider were burned into my brain. Even as an adult who knows better, that childhood fear can still be powerful when I see a spider. This wasn’t going to be easy.“
“I was very proud to see my wife conquer her fear of tarantulas. I tried to be as helpful and supportive as possible, but I admit that it was also fun to watch her squirm. After all, there was no real danger, and I knew she could do it. This wasn’t exactly going to be easy for me either. I didn’t have any strong fears, but gross is gross.”
The restaurant was Bo Cap Lua. Even Saigon locals think of it as an edgy restaurant. They take Vietnamese food from exotic to extreme, with the widest selection of disgusting dishes in all of Saigon. We decided to baby-step to the tarantulas and ordered these five courses of creepy cuisine:
Bo Cap Lua takes Vietnamese food from exotic to extreme.Click To Tweet
LIVE Coconut Worms
Fried Bamboo Worms
The Bamboo worms were uneventful and a great way to begin. They were crispy, crunchy, and rather bitter. We didn’t enjoy the bamboo worms, but they were such a relief. We expected to be totally grossed out, but they tasted like normal food. We started to relax and let our guard down a bit. This was a big help because our next course was a doozy.
Live Coconut Worms
“Eating the live coconut worms was the biggest surprise of the meal. It was much more difficult than expected. Our worms were almost big as a thumb and surprisingly strong. And since they’re worms, they have a segmented body and the ability to expand. “
“Imagine putting that in your mouth, whole. Our waiter taught us the right way to eat them with lots of miming and just enough English. The trick is to eat the body but not the head. All you have to do is pinch head, insert worm body in mouth, bite off body, discard head, and enjoy. Something got lost in translation. This simple procedure became the most dramatic moment of the night. We had similar experiences and emotions eating the live worms, but Vanessa’s was more intense.”
“The coconut worm whipped around with such power I could barely hold on at first. My grip was too loose. It worked its head free enough to almost snag me with its pinchers. Yikes and damn. The idea of eating a live worm was already gross. And now I had a tinge of fear, too – about a worm. I felt embarrassed and wanted to scream. But I held it together, readjusted my grip, and lifted the worm to my lips.”
“I just wanted to get it over with. I quickly shoved the worm’s body in my mouth and bit down. But this coconut worm was a little tank. My first bite didn’t even break the skin. And that’s when I really began to feel the big worm’s power.”
“This was taking too long. The worm began to wiggle and writhe in my mouth. I felt its rough skin scrape against my teeth, across the roof of my mouth, and all over my tongue. Frantic, I bit down again. As hard as I could. And pulled sideways.”
“The head tore free. I actually heard the skin rip. I’d never been so disgusted. Instinctively, I knew what was next. Time slowed down. The few milliseconds of waiting lasted an excruciating eternity.”
“…And worm guts splattered my tongue. Hot, gooey guts oozed through my mouth. My stomach turned. My body clenched. I prepared myself for the worse. Then I actually tasted it, and I could breath again. When I forced myself to stop thinking of it as gross and just experience honestly, it became surprisingly pleasant. It tasted a lot like coconut, mildly sweet, with a creamy texture.
Would I eat coconut worms again? Only if I had to in a zombie apocalypse scenario, but if I had to, now I know that I can.”
We knew the lizards were grilled, but they looked too life-like. Maybe it was an optical illusion. Maybe we were hyper-sensitive after the live worms. But the lizards seemed to be squiggling on the plate. We didn’t think the lizards were going to be this creepy.
We ordered the lizards primarily because of their authenticity as traditional Vietnamese food. The other creatures we ate are relatively common but are novelty foods, even in Vietnam. The lizards (Ran Moi in Vietnamese) are a typical delicacy of the Mekong delta that has gone mainstream. You can find it on the menu at many restaurants around Saigon. Mainstream, but still creepy with their gaping mouths and illusory wiggles.
Since eating big fat worms that actually wiggled had just raised our creepy threshold a few levels, we chomped down with very little hesitation. We ate them whole, scales, bones and all. The flavor and texture of the meat and skin tasted like a hearty fish. The bones are not so great. They are relatively soft and completely edible, but they are also mildly annoying.
With the scorpions, we moved from creepy to scary. Scorpions are one of the most evil-looking creatures on the globe. Ours were clearly dead, fried, and covered with aioli – and they still gave us little shivers.
It took some courage just to pick them up. Putting them in our mouths was literally spine-tingling. Our scorpions tasted as heinous as they looked, but eating them built up Vanessa’s courage to face the dreaded tarantula.
“I kept telling Vanessa that scorpions were objectively scarier and more dangerous than tarantulas in every way. So after eating a scorpion, a tarantula should be easy. True or not, it seemed to help motivate her.”
“I reminded her that by this point, she had conquered so many moments of fear and revulsion that she should feel invincible.”
“Steve was very encouraging. Traces of my childhood fear lingered, but I said, “Bring on the tarantulas!”
“I snatched up a tarantula and shut my eyes. I resolved to gobble it in one bite, but when I felt those hairy legs on my lips, all I could manage was a nibble. I started to put it down, but Steve was shaking his head. “That doesn’t count,” he said. “You can do it. Take a big bite. From the body.” So I put the horrible thing back in my mouth and bit it in half.”
“It was nasty and bitter and utterly disgusting. I mistakenly ate the head. I tried to chew and swallow, but I felt a gag reflex coming. I spit out the mangled tarantula in disgust, but I felt only disgust and not fear. I took that as a victory and raised my arms in celebration.”
All that creepy Vietnamese food was an emotional roller coaster. We felt drained. Maybe it was too much for one meal, but we had a blast. Tarantulas, scorpions, lizards and worms were definitely the worst Vietnamese food we’ve eaten, but we totally recommend them.
Other Tips and Information
Many of these critters are available throughout Vietnam and much of Asia. If you’re in Saigon, BoCapLua Restaurant is one of the best places to experiment with these dishes. BoCapLua is a clean, sit -down restaurant with decent bathrooms. They have a huge menu of creepy cuisine and great reputation with locals. The menu is not in English, but there are pictures of every item. Ordering is very easy.
The only drawback is that it’s located in the northern District of Go Vap. The restaurant is about 45 minutes from the tourist area of District 1, but it’s not a difficult trip.
Address: 17B Đường 11, p. 11, q. Gò VấpHo Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
What’s the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten? Would you try any of the items we tried? This restaurant serves bats! Would you try bats?
AmberPosted at 08:31h, 28 November
How interesting! I’d certainly give it a try. I might be a little weirded out, but I’d at least try a small bite.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 09:07h, 28 November
Hi Amber, that’s the spirit! I was really weirded out at first but now I can say that I did it! May not do it again 😉 But it was definitely a cool experience. 🙂
AnosaPosted at 15:07h, 28 November
Ok before this post I would have classified myself as adventurous but in actuality apart from eating a frogs legs I don’t think I can stomach any of these. Well done to you guys for trying it out
The Travel NinjasPosted at 15:15h, 28 November
Hello Anosa. Thanks. We think eating frog is pretty adventurous too. Most of it tasted as bad as it looked.
seasaltsecretsPosted at 18:40h, 28 November
Oh wow I would have to close my eyes for this! Props for being so adventurous and emerging yourself in the culture!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 18:54h, 28 November
Hello Seasaltsecrets. Thanks for the props. We were actually good entertainment for all the vietnamese people around. They kept watching the looks on our faces as we ate this creepy Vietnamese Food.
Healthy Cooking MomPosted at 19:33h, 28 November
Theres no way i could do this! Your super brave.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 19:49h, 28 November
Hi. Thanks for the compliment. I actually was fooled into thinking they would all taste like chicken! ? I can assure you they didn’t – not even close ?
EmilyPosted at 20:54h, 28 November
I have had opportunities to try out these creepy crawlies but I wasn’t this adventurous to try them all at one sitting! I remember eating live worms and felt a worm squirming sensation in my tummy afterwards. It must have been my imagination.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 20:59h, 28 November
Hi Emily – fellow “live worm eater”! I’m not sure if it was your imagination or not because I had the same exact feeling! ? It was SO weird to have something so BIG and FAT moving around in your mouth. I can’t believe that I was willing to move forward with the other creepy crawlies after this ?
RosePosted at 21:08h, 28 November
You guys are too funny. I am positive that I wouldn’t have been able to eat anything that looked like what it really is. I’m glad you survived and you have definitely earned bragging rights!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 21:35h, 28 November
Hi Rose. You’re right if all of these were covered in flour and fried it would have been WAY easier to eat! Everything would have probably looked and tasted like “fried chicken” ? Yes, we survived, barely 😉
Zayani ZulkiffliPosted at 22:09h, 28 November
Omg. I definitely cannot eat those, for sure I’ll vomit. Haha.
But I know they have certain health benefit, but still, no for me 😀
The Travel NinjasPosted at 22:31h, 28 November
Hi Zayani. Oh yeah, when I looked at those BIG, FAT worms just moving around, I was like “HELL NO!” Somehow I still ended up putting it in my mouth and feeling it squish all over my mouth. I was SO close to spitting it out! Hopefully, we gained a bit of a health benefit eating these creepy crawlies. LOL ?
Iza Abao, Two Monkeys Travel Group WriterPosted at 02:28h, 29 November
I am a Filipino. The most exotic food which I have eaten was ‘balut’. I have not eaten ‘balut’ for more than 5 years. I am not planning to eat anytime soon. Haha! Both of you were so brave. What will you be eating next?
The Travel NinjasPosted at 02:45h, 29 November
Hi Iza. It’s funny that you mention Balut. We actually tried it for the first time in Vietnam about a months ago! I had to eat it with my eyes closed! I actually think that eating Balut is what gave me the strength to be able to try all of these other creepy crawlies! Well, tonight we will be eating Spicy Chicken Tikka Masala ? As far as ‘weird’ stuff, I’m not sure yet but will let you know. 🙂
Blair VillanuevaPosted at 04:09h, 29 November
You guys are so adventurous! I wouldn’t dare to eat those.. hahaha scary!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 05:30h, 29 November
Hi Blair. I still can’t believe I ate all of these. I was under the impression that we would only try the LIVE coconut worms but then when they brought all of that other stuff I looked at Steve with a confused look like “You’ve got to be kidding me?” Well, he did help me overcome my fear for tarantulas. It’s now disgust for tarantulas. Haha.?
Rane ChinPosted at 05:40h, 29 November
OMG you are so brave! The Bamboo worms looks really scary!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 05:42h, 29 November
Hi Rane. Oh you should have seen them moving! They were SO strong it was incredible. ? I was beginning to have second thoughts and feeling it move in my mouth was scary.
ImaobongPosted at 05:43h, 29 November
Lol this would never be me, ever!
Well done, you guys got some guts 🙂
The Travel NinjasPosted at 05:53h, 29 November
Hi! Is that how you really feel? LOL ? Well, we surely ate some guts.? haha
A Travel BlogPosted at 06:04h, 29 November
I do not think I will willingly eat any of these….. not even if you pay me USD 1000….. so wow…. you are brave!!!!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 06:56h, 29 November
LOL! I wish they would have paid me $1000 to eat these. 😉 I don’t know if brave is the right word, crazy maybe. Haha
Doreen PendgracsPosted at 08:45h, 29 November
Vanessa, it was REALLY hard for me to read this post on an empty stomach. I will be glad to eat some eggs and toast for breakfast! I ate worms and grasshoppers in MX and won’t be anxious to repeat the experience. Yikes!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 08:50h, 29 November
Hi Doreen. Oh no! Sorry about that 🙁 Maybe I should have put a disclaimer **Don’t read on an empty stomach** Yes, eggs and toast are definitely a much better option. Although, now that I’m thinking about it, these creepy crawlies would have probably tasted MUCH better covered in chocolate!! 😛
Valerie RatliffPosted at 12:45h, 29 November
I just couldn’t do it. Very gross. Yuck..yuck.yuck.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 13:09h, 29 November
Hi Valerie. LOL ? They definitely did NOT taste like chicken.?
Hui YingPosted at 21:13h, 29 November
omg!!!!I not dare to try it!!!!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 21:15h, 29 November
Hi Hui. It was pretty scary. ?
Lisa RiosPosted at 21:20h, 29 November
My god, honestly I don’t think I would be able to eat any of them as the pictures itself scares me a lot right away! I am sure you guys are so adventurous to try out such foods so easily!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 21:30h, 29 November
Hi Lisa. It was definitely a lot easier for Steve than it was for me. ?
Maple Shuh HongPosted at 02:36h, 30 November
Omg, the conjuring description + the pic really freak me out. I have a thrilling visualising experience by reading your creepy crawlies swallor experience!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 02:38h, 30 November
Hello Maple. Thanks for commenting. It was a gross experience. Hope reading was fun.
imsinneePosted at 06:54h, 30 November
omgggg… lizard is the most creepy one to me. I would love to try the fried scorpions though XD
The Travel NinjasPosted at 06:56h, 30 November
Hello Imsinnee. Thanks for commenting. Send us some pictures when you try the fried scorpions. We’d love to see the look on your face.
Shini LolaPosted at 08:52h, 30 November
OMG! You’re so daring! I don’t dare to eat these stuff! =X
The Travel NinjasPosted at 08:55h, 30 November
Hello Shini Lola. Thanks for commenting. Yes, I wasn’t easy to eat such creepy Vietnamese food.
Sharon LeePosted at 09:10h, 30 November
I cannot see this!! How can they actually accept everything like this inside their stomach!! ><
The Travel NinjasPosted at 09:15h, 30 November
Hi Sharon. LOL. Yeah, it was pretty scary. Luckily we didn’t get sick or anything from eating these creepy crawlies. 🙂
Nisha SyamPosted at 09:21h, 30 November
Interesting! Brave You.. I would not have done it.. I love travelling.. looking forward to your blog posts..
The Travel NinjasPosted at 09:23h, 30 November
Hi Nisha. Thanks for your kind words. It took a lot of motivation from my husband that’s for sure! At least I can say I tried them and survived. Haha ?
Debbie J.Posted at 09:24h, 30 November
Nope! I would have never survived! Just the size of those worms will get me out the door fast and on another flight home. Lol! You guys are brave!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 09:27h, 30 November
Hi Debbie. LOL Yup, I was getting ready to run as well! When I saw how big and strong those worms were I was like “You’ve got to be kidding me!” It was definitely an interesting experience.
Ivy KamPosted at 13:04h, 30 November
Wow, you guys are really adventurous at eating weird foods!!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 13:15h, 30 November
Hi Ivy. Steve is definitely more adventurous at eating weird foods than I am. He is a great motivator! I probably would have chickened out if he wasn’t there with me.
ShubPosted at 13:56h, 30 November
Sorry to say but this is ewwww for me!! Cannot muster guts to eat these creatures.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 14:03h, 30 November
Hi Shub. Oh no need to be sorry it was ewwww for me too! I still can’t believe I did it. Steve definitely had a much easier time than I did eating these that’s for sure.
Neha VermaPosted at 08:57h, 01 December
OMG! I am a vegetarian..so, don’t really know how to react here…you got some real guts. To try out all those weird things is no joke.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 08:59h, 01 December
Hello Cindy. This was a rare meal for us too. It was fun but not a typical dinner.
cindy tongPosted at 13:13h, 01 December
omgggg this mayb not for me..cos i dont eat these kind of rare food
The Travel NinjasPosted at 13:15h, 01 December
Hello Neha. I was weird but we look back on the experience and laugh at ourselves.
Ika SaniPosted at 08:00h, 04 December
Omg! Awesome an amazing experience. But quite scary huhu
The Travel NinjasPosted at 08:05h, 04 December
Hi Ika. It was definitely an interesting experience! Yes, I thought it was quite scary.
AbigailPosted at 19:17h, 04 December
Scorpions? I wouldn’t dare go near a scorpion let alone eat one! I don’t know if I can brave this challenge, lol.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 19:32h, 04 December
Hi Abigail. Yup, I was right there with you. There’s NO way I would go near a scorpion. It’s hard to believe that I actually ate one!
ChrisPosted at 19:58h, 04 December
Travel should be all about the experiences and overcoming the challenges!
You’ve packed as many of these into one night as others might a whole year!!
Great effort, as many wouldn’t even try
The Travel NinjasPosted at 20:15h, 04 December
Hi Chris. You’re absolutely right. We probably took it to the extreme on this night! Haha. It was definitely an interesting experience.
VyjayPosted at 20:35h, 05 December
Hats of to you guys for pulling it off. I would not be able to touch all that ‘creepy’ food with a barge pole. Considering that I am vegetarian, I can well appreciate your efforts for being able to eat all that creeps 🙂
The Travel NinjasPosted at 20:38h, 05 December
Hello Vyjay. Thank you. It was a fun night of pushing the envelope.
AlessandraPosted at 04:53h, 06 December
Oh wow you guys are so adventurous and brave! I would have never been able to do it myself and you guys did while conquering your fears! Great post 🙂
The Travel NinjasPosted at 05:15h, 06 December
Hello Alessandra. Thank you. We love the wacky times we have traveling like this adventure with Vietnamese food.