When you live and travel around Asia for any significant amount of time your factors for encountering weird as hell food go up considerably. There are some clear early favourites that we all go through, the gateway drugs as it were, such as feet, goat feet, pig feet, and the perennial bar snack the spicy chicken feet, but gateway drugs are just that, and after time they are not enough, where before a spicy pig penis would get you your fix, now it’s not enough, you need more, you need shark-fin soup, you need fertilized duck egg, you need snake. So, when I saw birds nest soup, I needed it to heroin.
So, what are birds nest soup? And more importantly why the hell would anyone want to eat it? Well, edible birds-nest soup are not only prized by dem crazy Chinese cats for its high nutritional value, but its rarity makes it one of the most expensive animal products known to man, coming in at bat shit crazy $3000 per pound. Oh and of course, like any weird as hell shit its “good for the man”, coming in a lot more expensive than Viagra for those chasing that elusive erection.
So, how are they made, and what makes them so good? Get ready for your mouths to water! They are made from interwoven strands of salivary cement. That’s right they’re made from bird phlegm, phlegm that’s high in calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron. Are you sold yet? And the best ones are found in the caves of south-east Asia. One place that does birds nest soup is Palawan, the legendary, and supposedly best island in the world. I thus went on the hunt for birds nest soup, a feat I would achieve at a small beach side restaurant in El Nido by the name of the Seaside RestoBar, El Nido
The soup comes in a bowl fit for at least 2 people, and was priced at around $20 for the pot, had it been 3 grand a pound, I would have rather sat at said bar and pounded my own pudding. Now as for its crazy cheap price, this would mean either two things, that it was fake, and, or of a low quality. I was not to be put off.
Soup came out first, and we thus poured ourselves out a nice bowl each, before getting down to this legendary delicacy. And what to say about it? It was like a chicken soup that didn’t have as much flavor as a chicken soup should, with floating bits of glutinous stuff that’s supposed to be good for you that’s the birds nest bit. Not in any way the worst thing I have ever had, in fact it was OK, but had
I spent 3k on this, I would quickly have regretted not buying a chicken soup, and some calcium, iron, magnesium, and Viagra supplements.
I finished up with a mango daiquiri, and kinilaw (Filipino ceviche), and then enough alcohol to ensure that no matter how good the Chinese aphrodisiac was, I would not be raising so much as a flag.
Birds nest soup. Tick.
Gareth Johnson is the founder of Young Pioneer Tours, a published writer, and all round entrepreneur. He enjoys street food, and encourage others to get paid to travel the world.