Well, yesterday it happened. I tried congealed pig’s blood for the first time. Within my hot pot at Bubble World I spotted the dark, crimson cubes hanging out next to the enoki, and while I knew what they were, I still asked for confirmation. Our server replied “they’re pig’s blood. The pig’s blood.” For some reason, I’d imagined my first consumption of congealed blood to be more of an event, one for which I’d prepared and planned in advance. Instead, it just innocently appeared within a dish I’d ordered with my Oreo chocolate slush. Pig’s blood, you sneaky devil – you caught me by surprise!
Before I get into describing it, I’ll first tell you what else we had. Bubble World is a contemporary, cleanly-designed restaurant just a few doors down from Hanppy, and it’s part of a chain across the lower mainland with eight other locations. My friend Joel joined me for dinner, and had no qualms about me insisting we order large, over-the-top steins of colourful drinks. After all, only a real man can order a passionfruit calpis slush with pearls ($4.95).
That was Joel’s drink (calpis – written ‘calprin’ on their menu – is a kind of sweet Japanese yogurt drink, and was amaaaaazing in combination with the passionfruit), and I went for the milky Oreo slush with coconut jelly ($5.45). Yup, I saw chocolate cookie crumbs in a photo on the menu and they had to be mine. In addition to being enormous, it was chocolately, cold, and pretty darn good. It came with a whole Oreo cookie as a garnish, and I thought that was awesome. Dessert before dinner? Why yes, I think I will.
Observing what other tables had ordered, we decided to get a spicy hot pot with beef ($9.95), the salt and pepper chicken nuggets ($5.95), and the Chinese green onion pancake ($4.45). I must say, the chicken nuggets were all that’s tasty about deep-fried foods – crunchy, salty, peppery, and bad for us.
The green onion pancake was large, hot, and exquisitely flaky. It came with what I think was oyster sauce, but I actually found it a little too strong and chose to eat the pastry-like pancake on its own. I would definitely get this again.
Finally, we tackled the hot pot, which came over a flame and continued to simmer long after it was brought to the table.
It was elegant-looking and filled with greens, bunches of enoki mushrooms, shards of red dried chilies, fish cakes, squares of pressed bean curd, spicy broth, and of course, The Blood.
We dove right in. You can’t snack politely on bean curd when there’s blood waiting to be tasted. The texture was firm, like an over-set jelly, but what I noted even more than the gelatinous texture was the slight stickiness of it. As I bit down and my molars made contact with one another, they stuck slightly as I opened my mouth again. It doesn’t ‘melt’ like jelly does. The flavour wasn’t strong, but definitely noticeable – a few bites in I noticed an iron-y, almost metallic taste.
If I said I’d chewed that first bite of pig’s blood easily, I’d be a bloody liar. And yes, I am reveling in the opportunity to employ that pun. My mind couldn’t help but whisper “you know you’re eating blood right now, right?” and in turn, it became a little tough to swallow. It was a very different experience from the durian, which was difficult to consume based purely on its sulphurous flavour. The taste of the blood wasn’t nearly as strong or off-putting as that bite of mooncake, but it was the knowledge of what I was eating that made it unappetizing. Interesting, isn’t it? Any psych students out there willing to weigh in on the connections between mind and stomach?
The Taiwanese aren’t the only ones to use blood as food – throughout south and central America, parts of the UK, Europe, Scandinavia, Asia, and Africa, blood is prepared and eaten in many different ways. Think blood sausage, blood pancakes, blood soup, and even blood mixed with milk, as drunk by the Maasai.
I really liked Bubble World, and thought it was a happy and comfortable environment to try a new, intimidating food! The service was good, the menu had plenty to choose from (including vegetarian options, don’t worry), their calpis drinks were awesome, and it was very busy. That says a lot.
While the congealed blood is far from my new favourite snack, I’ve already decided the next time I’ll try it – in haggis for Robbie Burns Day! And yes, that is quite a few months away. Four to be exact. That’s fine by me.
Don’t forget – today is the last day of my 5 Days of Twitter Giveaways!
I want to thank you for sticking with me through the last 110+ days. How am I going to do that? By sharing 5 of my favourite experiences!
Each day for 5 days (today is Day 5!), watch my twitter account @365richmond for a daily question. Retweet with the answer for your chance to win a $25 Gift Card to one of my favourite Richmond experiences.
A few things to note:
*The winner will be chosen by random
*The winner must be following @365richmond and respond to a Direct Message within 96 hours of posting
*Finally, for those of you not in Twitter, there’ll be opportunities for you to win, too! Keep an eye out for more Richmond eat-opportunities in the very near future.
Vegetarian options available