Halloween is a scary time in New York City: people running around in masks and clunky homemade costumes that monopolize an entire row of subway seats. And while candy and treats are the most popular way to celebrate October 31, why not put aside your fun-sized Crunch bar for the night and indulge in some of New York City's scariest and most exotic eats?
We don't usually think of the food on our plate as dead, but when it's alive, that's when the tables turn (perhaps literally). Chun Ha, a Korean restaurant in Queens, is notorious for Sannakji, their live octopus dish. The young octopus is killed minutes before it hits the plate, but the cephalopod's tentacles still retain feeling and nerveendings, causing them to thrash, wiggle, and attach their suction cups to your chopsticks and your tongue. The chewy meat tastes straight out of the sea, and the expressions on your fellow diners faces (if they can handle observing the consumption of a tempermental freshly-murdered octopus) will certainly be worth it. For a heartier meal here, surround yourself with crustacean ghosts and try the Sannakji Chulpan ($99.99), a large hot pot full of live seafood, brought to a boil in a spicy broth at your table.
It's generally considered impolite to put genitalia in your mouth at the dining table, but at Kenka, animals sacrifice their manliness to feed adventerous eaters on St Mark's Place. Luckily, beer comes cheap here, before you decide to dive into the Chinko ($5.50), the bull penis smothered in sauce that attracts plenty of attention to this Japanese establishment. Turkey testicles ($6) are another fan favorite, but perhaps more for the name than any reason of culinary merit. For a less-meaty phallic food, opt for the Namako Su ($7) marinated sea cucumber (note: not a vegetarian cucumber).
Worms may be most popular in gummy form, but live insects can also be used to create a savory treat full of lean protein. At Toloache Taqueria, $15 will get you two chapulines tacos, stuffed with Oaxacan-style dried grasshoppers, complete with heads and legs.
Brick Lane Curry House provides bragging rights to its most daring eaters. Those who finish a portion of Monster Curry will recieve a plaque on the P'Hall of Fame for consuming the hottest curry in NYC.
Upscale Japanese and Korean eatery Yakiniku Takashi has an entire menu full of creative, exotic, and perhaps creepy eats. The cleverly-naed Testicargot ($12) features "cow balls escargot style with garlic shiso butter" and the Calf's Brain Cream served in a tube ($28) is suggested with a (perhaps necessary) pairing of a Russian Beluga vodka shot ($8). A la carte grilled options range from different areas of cow stomach to intestines, aorta, and tongue. For dessert, try the vanilla ice cream, perhaps with salted caramel sauce.
El Pequeño Coffee Shop doesn't serve your typical cappuccino. This Queens estaurant serves traditional Ecuadorian specialties, most notable for its off-menu option of cuy, guinea pig. Before you run to the nearest Starbucks, know that the rodent tastes a lot like rabbit, an esteemed gourmet dish in several American restaurants. Guinea pigs are eaten in Ecuador to celebrate special occasions such as weddings, spit roasted and served whole; tiny treats like the petite crispy ears and tender leg meat are treasered.
Ifyou're an Andrew Zimmern fan, you may recall that his least favorite food is Durian, and he's eaten a lot of scary things! The fruit that stinks like week-old gym socks and has the consistency of a gooey grape may not sound appealing, but crowds constantly surround The Durian Man in Manhattan's Chinatown. For a couple of bucks, you can share the fruit with friends and curious strangers, and perhaps boast a stronger palate than the host of Bizarre Foods.
Perhaps all it takes is a holiday filled with cheap costumes and platic pumpkins to encourage you to taste some new foods and embrace a new cultural cuisine. If you're in shock after sampling some of these scary eats, check out New York's most dangerous cocktails.