Caramel pudding with roundworms – Chinjuya restaurant, Yokohama







I do not often do private lessons- only when the circumstances are right and they suit me –  but it was very nice to see one of my students again tonight: Y, who I hadn’t seen for a while and who gave me some amazing omiyage or souvenir presents: some delicious Taiwanese fruit cakes; some green tea, and a bottle of vintage Jicky parfum   (whaaaaaat I hear you cry, but it is true and out of the blue).



But anyway, that is another story. Our main point this evening is this: upon practicing ways to answer the question ‘What’s new?’, I was met with this: “Well, yesterday evening I went to a ‘rare animal restaurant……would you like to see the menu?”





I would.









(deep fat fried crocodile paw)





Now I have pretty quick-working nifty peepers that can scan a lot of visual information at a glance, and within a microsecond my eyes had feasted on pure horror: never mind the bear, the snake, the crocodile paw, the moth larvae… my sight had rested upon the unmentionable and the unthinkable:  COCKROACH.



On a menu? To be eaten?



Gimmicky theme restaurant or not, there is some serious taboo-breaking going on here, even in jest. Cockroach? Are you sure that you want to read on?




Before I came to Japan I had never, to my knowledge, even seen one (fellow British people, do we even have them on our fair isle?) Upon arrival here, though, on this hot, and humid island, I came to know them. Their quivering antennae that send a chill through the body with their intuitive, post-nuclear intelligence: their foul, and dirty scuttling ways: their eggs (UGH>>>>>>>>>shuddddderr)


And I have had my own horror stories.

  1. Not knowing how to deal with one and hitting it and it breaking apart into perfect halves, allowing me to see the filth goo that dwelled within its lid:

2. Hitting another one with a slipper and not seeing its partner, which then proceeded to fly directly into my face (I literally lost my mind for a couple of seconds and fainted back on to the tatami)


3. Running to pick up the phone, barefoot, one hot summer’s evening and……….well I am sure you can imagine what happened next.



(this was all in our old house, incidentally: after five years in the new place – we moved to where we are now right after the earthquake – I am mercifully yet to come across one)




Suffice to it say, I am not a fan (but then again, who is?) They are repugnant, but to give them their fair play, I will say that I did once do a very strange lesson at my previous school in which we discussed whether human beings had the automatic right to kill them, an ethical debate in which I was sticking up for the roaches  (I am quite interested in specieism as a philosophical idea as there is so much irrational and emotional idiocy bandied about when it comes to eating creatures: I have never for one second understood the logic that it is ok to eat a cow but not a cat (even though I have one): or a pig but not a dog (when the former is supposedly more intelligent and thus will suffer at least as much as a mutt). The Japanese eat raw horse here (basashi, and I tried it, and hated it), but then we in England eat pigeons and rabbits, or at least some fancy restaurants in London I have been to serve it, and that would be just as revolting to your average nihonjin as eating candied crickets (god they were vile) would be to a Cockney.



Still, when my student showed me the photos from the restaurant I must confess I stared in horror. I am not much of a meat person to be honest at the best of times (having been a Morrissey-influenced proper vegetarian for five years or so in my late teens…..oh the arguments, the fights, the screaming, the tears at the farmers’ gate as I wept tears in bovine, adolescent empathy, but I meant it, and still feel strangely guilty practically ever time I eat some flesh, even though I do, to be honest, quite often have a taste for it. )



No heart, or lungs, or brain, or skin for me though; just lean meat in small quantities, and, hypocritically, like most people, it can’t look like the creature in question. I just don’t want to be reminded of it, particularly if it were these poor chicks:









One minute they are mimosa fluff balls, the next they are this. Monstrous!



As for the other things that my student and her party sampled and digested (I in all honesty could never even venture anywhere near the VICINITY of a restaurant like that – apparently snake and bear didn’t smell very nice in Korean yakkiniku barbecue style ( I can’t even bear the original beef version….the smell of that meaty smoke on my clothes makes me feel complete and utter despair when I am riding the train back home afterwards), so the idea of my clothes fumees au serpent et a l’ours is even worse.



But moth larvae?!









BLEURRGH! (she said that even she couldn’t try this one)












and as for this………..thing….which we couldn’t even find the English name for, but some kind of mollusc or crustacean like insect, no money whatsoever in the world could induce me to even be in the same room. Oh sweet putrescence, it truly is revolting.




But you know what is coming next, so shield your eyes. Before you go around saying that Japanese people go around eating roaches, though, they really don’t. The ‘gokiburi’ has to be the most despised living entity in the whole of the country – people are phobic, there are adverts in summer times for how to get rid of them, and the idea of eating them would be as least as horrifying to virtually every citizen in this country as it would anywhere else. But Y did have a taste of them and declared them to be ‘delicious and creamy’.





Well she is certainly more audacious than I am. I think I would simply rather die.






Filed under Flowers, Psychodrama


  1. stephen

    I have always thought of shrimp and prawns as the cockroaches of the sea. Context as always. You

    • Actually I see what you mean, although personally I LOVE them. That taste! (still, I can’t bear the eyes and the legs and all the rest of it – a total hypocrite).

      Actually this post is almost too much to bear. I might have to cover it up with something.

  2. Iuno Feronia

    The photos are horrible – I can eat meat only in small quantities and only, when the Animal is Not recognisable anymore. So no prawns, octopus, mussels, anything that reminds me of some body part. An Invitation to this restaurant would be my Waterloo 😉 i have been several times to China and there are Food streets where you can buy all insects and pawns and whatever in a stick. Like chicken roasted on a Spit, but without chicken.
    Thanks for this epicurean Post!

  3. Nelleke Oepkes aka Booknose

    These crunchy appetizers look even more horrid than in their natural skin or harness.
    The reptilian snack’s appearance is almost alien with the real croc accessoire dangling limply .
    Fascinated repulsion or repulsion, but definitely fascinated!

  4. Having been raised in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. I will eat blue crabs, shrimp, fish, lobster, mussels, clams, scallops, oysters, and calamari. But I could never eat an insect (knowingly, although a fly once flew into my mouth). I lived in Houston, Texas for a short time many years ago, and there they have a species of insect called tree roaches. They do not come from “dirtiness” like other kind of roaches but are in the beetle family. They very large and actually flew. I remember pulling down the covers to get into bed one night and one flew into my face. Looking at those photos might be a good incentive for people trying to lose weight as they will also lose any appetite they thought they had!

  5. I realize that protein is protein, but I could not even pass this restaurant on the sidewalk without retching. Illogical in view of the fact that I devour underwater Arthropoda with gusto, but I carry the firm fixed delusion that I would drop dead upon putting an insect in my mouth. And when it comes to roaches, I fervently believe that I would die if one touched me. It’s a phobia, but not one that I care to overcome.

    • ‘Underwater Arthropoda’! Another delectable expression.

      I am the same as you. Retching is immediate in these matters (I did mean to ask her actually if the restaurant had buckets for people to chunder into as it must happen, surely?)

      What surprised me was that my student is a very gentle and polite girl but she was able to put a fried cockroach into her mouth and actually eat it. Like you, although I didn’t die when that roach flew into my face, I think that probably no money in the world could induce me to eat one as I would be far too traumatized. It must be an innate and instinctive human reaction, surely (though probably perhaps our ancestors DID eat them).

      Thank you for reading my repugnant post in any case!

  6. After doing a little more research, I find that eating mealworms is a trendy thing. Who knew? One earnest blogger has devoted real time and effort to getting us used to the idea, even including comments on how to kill mealworms humanely. I especially like the remark that removing the head and legs might help you get started eating them, but after a while it doesn’t matter.

    • Oh lordy what have I started?

      Looking at those pictures I can see that if those critters were ground up in some way or mushed, at least you wouldn’t know about it. But in the (highly amusing) picture of them in the creme caramel, they are obviously being used in as grotesque a manner as possible.

      EL YUcKO.

      • It intrigues me to speculate that a rigid society with a full load of rules, many of them arbitrary, and a highly stylized etiquette probably requires some compensating all-out grotesquerie. Whether it’s violent porn or eating insects and crocodiles,there has to ge some way, not just to leave your daily rules and requirements, but to say a hearty “fuck you” to them. Seen in this light, eating bizarre things might be subversive and more interesting than I thought at first.

      • As a long term prisonee, I totally concur with your assessment, actually.

        You have entered the psyche.

  7. Given the chance, cockroaches would eat you. So, logically, you should eat them first.

  8. I am quite the adventurous eater, I have eaten a cricket before and I think some chocolate ants, but this fare is unfathomable to me. But, I do know that there are many places in the world where eating bear, snake, crocodile and such might be the norm. Certainly not the type of food I would be intrigued by. The insects on the other hand, well mostly the cockroaches and larvae, are just repugnant and nausea inducing. I just can’t even wrap my thoughts around actually “wanting” to eat any of those.
    I find it interesting that this girl, who seems to be a gentle, typical, Japanese girl, would be so adventurous. Maybe it is a response to such a repressed culture, to try things so out of the ordinary, that is inviting to people there. I do find it strange though about the cockroaches, I do know how phobic most Japanese people are about them. But, I guess there is a market for everything out there.
    This is definitely one restaurant that will not be on my list of places to visit, when I come to Japan.

    • When you hit Yokohama, we are so not going to this place, don’tcha worry!

      I hesitated about putting this up (what a lie: I was champing at the bit because it was so gross), but you are right: nausea is the only sane response.

      F*^**ng FOUL.

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