Saturday, August 2, 2008
Members Only: WingWang for the YinYang
As I wrote last week, the Chinese government has taken dog meat off the menus at the 112 or so officially-sanctioned Olympic hotels and at other Olympic-related venues and restaurants during the course of the upcoming games. However, you can still get Okay. I’ve eaten some unusual things in my day, or things that some people might find unusual. I mean, some folks are just simple meat and potatoes types, and wouldn’t dream of nibbling on gator tails, escargot, shark steaks, baby octopus, fried squid, moose steaks, deer roasts, or flying fish eggs on sushi. But despite having once tried Rocky Mountain Oysters (breaded & fried bull testicles) even I have to draw the line at the fare served at a restaurant called Guolizhuang. Situated in an elegantly restored house beside Beijing's West Lake, it is China's first speciality penis restaurant. Yeah; you read that right. Penis.
The locals refer to it as a petrol station for men and a beauty parlor for women, so devoutly do they believe in the health-giving properties of animal genitals. The Guolizhuang penis restaurant, which has now expanded to five franchises after opening in the capital three years ago, offers such delights as lobster with donkey penis, horse penis and testicles with chili dip, and the rather expensive Canadian seal penis, which costs over $500.00 and has to be ordered in advance. Banquets can cost from 2000 yuan to 100,000 yuan for tables of 10-12 diners, ($293.00 to $14,600.00) but set menus featuring penis hotpot and several other dishes start from just 200 yuan per person ($30.00).
Reports I’ve read from Western tourists who have eaten there have said that most of the dishes were somewhat bland and chewy, made more edible by the accompanying sauces. I myself would rather just have the lobster and the chili dip. As the owner of a penis, I just can’t bring myself to want to eat one. And I’m saddened enough by seals being clubbed to death for their skins and then left to rot, so I’m not all that cool with killing one just to emasculate it for Saturday’s supper. And yes, I’m a hypocrite because I’m okay with people killing pigs, cows, chickens, etc for my meals. And while I admittedly once ate bull testicles, at least it still was left alive and with something to pee through.
A booking at Guolizhuang comes with a trained waitress and a nutritionist to explain the menu and its medicinal virtues and health benefits and which dishes are best avoided by female diners due to testosterone levels. And as with so many things in Chinese medicine that costs animals their genitalia, like tigers and cobras, nutritionist Zhu Yan said the clients were mainly men eager to improve their yang, or virility. A little wang for the yang, I guess.
Sorry, guys. I’ll just stick to my General Tso’s Chicken and some Crab Rangoons, thanks. No penis shall pass my lips; I’ll have to pass on the peckers.