The Zen-man Who Ate Everything

(I know i’m a bit late in wishing you a Happy Chinese New Year, so just blame it on big bossman for keeping me busy. I wanted to share with you one of my adventures in China to celebrate the Year of the Snake err…i mean Rat.)

My soup contains five types of snake.

The cafe looks onto a bustling street market selling everything from air conditioning units to shoes. The room is lit by yellow-ish neon lights. A few tables are occupied by elder chinese men reading newspapers and you can’t help but notice the numerous wooden drawers lining the walls and the empty cages hanging from the ceiling. A TV in the corner plays an old chinese soap opera from the mainland.

I’m in the Sham Shui Po district of Hong Kong – in Snake Hip King, a cafe reputed to serve the best snake soup in the city. The lady in pink – the owner – gives me an amused look as she points to a table probably thinking: “Yay! Another Gwai Lo!” (white boy). I’m told the snake lady is a bit of a local celebrity not only for the soup – but for her snake catching abilities. Everytime a snake is reported ‘on the loose’ the police calls her to hunt it down, and she gets paid for every catch. Newspaper articles relating her various exploits are proudly displayed on the walls for everyone to see. Some things are best left unsaid, so I don’t ask if she serves her captures.

The old wooden drawers behind me hold all kind of snakes, some deadly, including the King Cobra – an ingredient in the five snake soup. And the snake lady is more than willing to take you by the hand to show you her most terrifying specimens – you don’t even have to ask, which put in Chinese also means you absolutely can’t refuse. “What a lovely snake lady!” i thought as she was dangling a poisonous reptile a few inches away from my face.

At this point, you must be wondering what snake taste like. Well, snake taste like chicken. I mean kind of. Somewhere between chicken and eel to be more exact. Confusing? Well it should be! The soup is strangely delicious and a local favorite in winter months. I would definitely go back for the unique experience and you should too if you visit Hong-Kong.
Snake King Hip, 170 Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon.HK. Tel. (852) 2386-9064

I also wanted to share with you a few pictures taken in Shanghai and Hong-Kong to de-traumatize you from the snake story and hopefully, inspire you to go visit this beautiful country.

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  • Manggy

    Haha! More adventures to add to your collection Zen-man!
    I have no idea why they needed to put all five snake meats into it! Is the taste that much different between them? 😉 Strange, no? Reptiles are between birds and fish on the evolutionary scale… so they’d taste somewhere in between, haha :)

  • AzAzura

    I went to a snake village in Hanoi and I’m glad I did not eat any of the fried snake.I am not that adventurous,Did you take the Ngong ping cable car in Hong Kong?it was nice wasn’t it! Nice pictures! especially the first one with the very good looking men sipping the soup .

  • Chicken & Waffles

    I enjoyed the photos, Zen Man–it reminds me how gorgeous Hong Kong is. You can keep the snake soup, however. I tried snake once in Beijing and that was quite enough of that.

  • waliz

    ahaaa…apart from the snake soup i noticed u have a unique hairstyle…and i can see u enjoy the soup very very much..! they said snake meat can heat your body up..what happen after tht? u go and swim at the harbour? hehehe….

  • A Z R A

    err..errr…..snake soup eh??? its ok…i’ll pass…….but the guy sipping the soup…cute! 😉

  • La Belette Rouge

    I HATE snakes. Sorry, Zen, I couldn’t read this post–eating snakes creeps me out. I would rather eat rat than snake. Yikes!!!

  • Ann

    You wild and crazy guy! Beautiful photos!

  • Ryan Placchetti

    I’ve never had snake, but I’ll try almost anything once. Speaking in terms of food of course. There are some things which should never be tried, that grouping includes crack.

    Don’t do crack.

  • Emiline

    Oooh, cool. Those pictures are really, really, good.
    You’re lucky to have been able to visit.
    I really think I’d be too scared to eat snake soup. Even if you do say that it tastes like chicken.

  • elay

    been to hong kong once but didn’t get to eat any snake – not that i want to. and yes, i agree, great place indeed.
    i got to eat snake here locally and it did tasted like chicken. i’m really not into exotic reptiles for food, i wouldn’t have eaten it had i known. but i was told that it was snake only after i’ve already chewed and swallowed a few spoonfuls.=)
    the snake lady sounds interesting..Happy Chinese New Year To you!

  • foodhuntress79

    I’m a food huntress but not a snake-for-food-huntress. No,no, no, no- I can’t hold a candle to your snake lady out there! Snakes give me the creeps- even in pictures! I can take anything in Hong Kong or but not snakes, please. In Mao’s name!Haha!

  • Sweetiepie

    Sorry I don’t eat snake!You seems enjoy the snake soup so much.:P gong hei fat choy!

  • Angélique

    Isn’t snake an aphrodisiac? Did it work?

  • Kate / Kajal

    when did u go to Hk ??? Sham Shi po … i go there all the time !I live in Kowloon. I ‘m sure u had a wonderful time there. And haha snake soup definately does not freak me out … i love it :)
    When are you going again ?

    Gueng Hei Fat Choi to you as well.

  • Heather

    I’ve eaten alligator, but not snake. I wonder if the chicken-cum-fishy taste is an evolutionary thing, since reptiles are sort of in between fish and birds on the scale of things? Gator tastes like chicken and fish, too. :\

    Happy New Year, man! I’m jealous that you’re in Hong Kong – I really want to go back to Asia.

  • daphne

    eww.. not sure if i will enjoy that but glad u hv the courage to do it!

  • Patricia Scarpin

    You are so brave, I would never eat that! :)

  • b

    What an adventure and an exotic (well, for us Westerners) one at that. Great story and pictures! Hong Kong does look beautiful. Hoping all is well with you, Zen! Cheers.

  • CookiePie

    Gorgeous photos!!!

  • Zen Chef

    LBR, snake or rat? Ummm I still pick snake! But it depends how you prepare the rat! Haha. I’m awful! :-)

    Ann, I will take that as a compliment! 😉

    Ryan. That and the guy next to you on the picture. I wouldn’t let him get close to me. Haha.

    Emiline. You have to be brave! Just think you’re eating chicken mc nuggets! Haha.

    Elay. Gong hey fat choy to you! Like my accent? Haha. The snake lady is a total killer. They should make a horror movie about her! Hehe.

    I finally found the weakness of my fearless foodhuntress. Haha. And it rhymes too! :-) What I couldn’t take in HK was the boiled tripe street food. The sight, the smell… Ewww. 😉

  • Zen Chef

    Sweetiepie. Enjoy is a big word. Let’s say it was an interesting experience. :-) Happy new year to you!

    Angelique. What I didn’t mentioned in the post is the potent liquor they make from the gall bladder of the snakes. Supposed to be better than Viagra! Hahaha. Didn’t try that! :-)

    Kate. I didn’t know you live in Kowloon. What a surprise! Last time I was in HK was last January. So you have tried this stuff! Haha. You’re fearless!

    Heather. Alligator sounds alright! Send me a steak please! :-)

    Daphne. Yup now I can show off. Hahaha

    Patricia. It’s better not to think when doing something like that! :-)

    B! How are you? Long time don’t see! :-) Quite an adventure huh! Hehe

    Thank you cookiepie!

  • Alejandra

    You’re a brave man, Zen! The pictures are fantastic. But do you know what I’m wondering about? The batteries in front of your soup bowl. Are they another Chinese delicacy? 😉

    On a totally unrelated note, I think I’m going to change my blog “handle” to something like “sweetiepie” or “cookiepie” so that I can always be referred to that way in comments. Perhaps macaron as they’re my favorite…

  • Kate / Kajal

    HK is safe … try going to interior china and eating … that my dear friend is fearless !

  • Julie

    I just love this post cause of the picture of Zen. Tu es si adorable!

  • Tartelette

    Great post! I ate snake in Florida a few years ago and I thought it was sort of a cross between chicken and eel. Better in soup than grilled I think. Great pictures!

  • cakewardrobe

    i once had snake soup in the boondox of China and was forever traumatized!! I feel like snake is equivalent to tea for them! YUK! You are brave! I’m surprised you know “gwai low!” hahha you’re so amusing! :)