We tracked down and brought Dan to this hotpot restaurant for one item and one item only—the bull penis. But on a moment's reflection we realized we might as well dump in a bunch of other stuff since we were already paying for the whole pot of exceptionally spicy oil. ("Holy shit, that's spicy today. I'm gonna have the runs!" announced Dan on first bite.)
After another outburst from Dandoval the hotpot-know-it-all ("If it floats it's ready"), he snatched up the first floater: "Best intestines I've ever had. Really. Much better than the pork and beef intestines I had before, they taste more like pig foot." Dandoval, 1; us, 0.
Next stop: cow throat. "Pretty damn good. Tastes like pig throat. There is no description for the flavor after you dump it in the hotpot. It tastes all the same. It's all cartilage." Even the kidney didn't unnerve the hotpot-entrails pro: "Not bad. Lot better than I thought it would be. Not like liver. Nice. Right chewiness." Innards with a texture to Dan's liking?
As the waitress tuned down the gas, and the oil waves started to slow down, Dandoval's mood also swiftly shifted gears. The liver bits were swallowed in silent suspense and a says-it-all-shrug. "It has this dryness," followed by some spitting out and a mumble of "I don't eat that anymore."
Duck tongue received a ranking of "boring compared to the rest" and a reverse of the standard Dantra: "Crunchy center. Cartilage soft on the outside, hard on the inside."
Finally the stars of the show arrived, cut into shapes that didn't look particularly like penis: "Looks like the mouth of a sea star or just another sphincter," remarked Dan, fumbling with his chopsticks. "It's softer than I thought it would be. Flavor-wise, not much beside hotpot. Fried would be better to sample the taste."
"Actually I gotta say it's not nearly as bad as I thought. I could eat a whole cow dick if I wanted to," promised Dan, again showing his vast range of knowledge. "They can be really big, as big as your arm. I worked on a farm. I fucking know."
The end of hotpot dinner was near, but not yet complete. The brain that we'd ordered was starting to disintegrate into the pot. Time was of the essence. Dan was hoping it would disintegrate completely before we noticed. He was unlucky. "I hate you," he glowered.
Like an Olympic weightlifter trying not to drop the barbell, Dandoval held a piece at the back of his mouth. Gravity finally started to have its way, prompting Dan to spit it out with his classic excuse: "It's the texture." He added, "The flavor is somewhere between mayonnaise and I don't even know. You can't chew it, you can't swallow it. It just breaks apart like tofu which I also hate." Ahh, at last, 12 kuai well spent.
If Dan followed the philosophy of Chinese traditional medicine where eating an animal organ is beneficial to the counterpart in your own body he would be as good as immortal by now. Here is his ranking chart
Kidney: should be available in the west
Throat: compulsory hotpot order
Duck intestine: as good as pig foot
Penis: just fine
Duck tongue: like sucking chicken feet
Liver in raw eggs: dry and nasty, should only have it in a state of drunkenness
Brain: can't even swallow it
Final words: Is Christmas hotpot the next big thing in the West? "Invest now," recommends Dan. When planning your next hotpot it's not a bad strategy to go early to a late-night hotpot restaurant as there the noise level and air ventilation still within human limits. Yulong Hotpot is nothing out of the ordinary, but service is friendly, everything seems clean, and overall the location shows visible signs of ambition to please the stomach at around RMB50 per head.
Directions for Yulong Hotpot