What’s the strangest food you’ve ever tried in your life? Cricket, deer, sea cucumber? Well, I’ve tried them all. But seriously, nothing beats eating a beating snake heart LIVE! Although it seems cruel, people in Vietnam love eating snakes and in order to make sure the meat is fresh, they will slaughter the snake alive and turn it into a 8-course meal. There’s a village specialise in preparing delicious snake cuisine. It’s none other than Le Mat Snake Village.
Where is Le Mat Snake Village?
Lệ Mật is a village 7 km northeast of central Hanoi, Vietnam, in the city’s Long Biên District. It is known the “snake village”, and locals have been employed as snake catchers in Northern Vietnam for generations.
Eating snake is uncommon for Singaporeans and Westerners, but this dish is considered to be very high-end in Vietnam. Catching a snake is a dangerous task. People are risking their lives to do such a job. That’s why it’s an expensive meal and people will only eat it for special occasions. Our snake cost about $60 USD. If you eat a normal noodle Pho in Vietnam, it costs about $ 1.5 USD only.
How I got to know Le Mat Snake Village?
I didn’t know about its existence until I joined a motorbike day tour with Flamingo Travel, a professional agency specialising in adventure motorbike tour. Before we embarked on the trip, our tour guide Victor asked us if we dared to eat snake for lunch. Frankly, I ate snake meat before when I was very young and I kind of like it. So naively I said: “I would love to!”
Never did I expect that I was going to witness the following scenes…
In restaurants around Le Mat Snake Village, all snakes caught will be kept in cage and well-fed until a customer decides to order it. The chef then slaughters the snake alive to make sure the meat is fresh. It’s the first time for me seeing snake being slaughtered, so the whole process was really shocking for me. For those faint-heart,ed you may want to skip the following video and pictures.
The chef first cut open the body of the snake to retrieve the heart. You can see that the heart is still pumping when it’s taken out. Then they cut the snake head before bringing it to the kitchen.
After 5 mins of waiting, the waiter brought a strange thing to our table – the pumping snake heart! And guess what, our tour guide asked me to drink it together with the snake bile juice! According to the Vietnamese, drinking the snake heart live is very good for heart.
And the snake bile juice is good for man, if you know what I mean. Of course, in order to kill the germs, they mix it with strong alcohol. So this green colour juice with the extra snake heart ingredient is the strangest alcohol I’ve ever tried in my life. I’m sure it will be yours too!
After this drink, everything else was surprising good. There were in total 8 dishes. The snake meat was very tender and chewy. Some dishes they fried the meat with ginger, heightening its natural sweetness. Some dishes they just fried the snake skin, it was really crispy and tasty.
The Verdict – Should You Visit Le Mat Snake Village?
Although the whole process seems really brutal, it’s really quite an experience. And the snake cuisine tastes really good. For those who have adventurous heart and stomach, I definitely recommend you to get there. You can even try the snake alcohol!
To avoid any communications barrier or being “slaughtered” by the locals because they know you are a foreigner. I suggest you to go with a local who knows how to bargain. I personally followed Flamingo Travel and our guide Victor knows the area inside out. He speaks good English and I got to learn so much about Vietnam culture from him in just 1 day!
So will you try the beating snake heart? Comment below and let me know your thoughts!