Night time drinks in South Saigon in which I drink pickled Crow and pickled Gekko.
After tennis this week I joined a group of friends at a local street side restaurant. I’ve been to the place many times before and have mentioned it on this blog before as the goat place. What I’ve not mentioned before is that on occasions whilst I’ve been eating here I would be offered little shot glasses full of alcohol by fellow diners. It’d be rude to say no so on more than one occasion I’ve thanked them and downed the little shot glass of fiery liquid.
Then the other day I’m talking with a mate and he informs me that the drinks come from the bottles at the back of the shop (see photo above) and that each bottle has some weird and wonderful herbs and/or animal inside. He tells me that one of the bottles contains a crow. We laugh and I think nothing more of it until this week after tennis. After a couple of beers I’m determined to see this crow I’d heard about. So a few of us get up and head to the bottles at the back of the shop. It’s hard to see inside this jars but they remind of nothing so much as the bottles of formaldehyde that used to sit at the back of high school science labs filled with embryos and snakes. Turns out I’m not to far off. One of the waiters kindly opens a couple of jars for us. The first jar he opens does indeed contain a crow (see rather poor photo below). Not just any crow but a slick, dark, beady eyed crow that looks like he just stupoured into that bottle earlier today. It’s far more likely he’s been pickling in there for years but he looked pretty fresh.
Of course when confronted by something so different we’re left with very little option but to try the Crow whiskey. They scoop it out of the formaldehyde jar into a small water bottle and charge us the princely sum of 22,000 dong (about $1.25). We charge our shot glasses and drink to the crow. It’s not entirely bad but certainly doesn’t fit into the pleasant category. The bottle finishes soon enough and we decide to order another only this time we’re going to go gekko. You see one of the other bottles also contained this evil, spotty, scaly skinned two-hand sized gekko and we wanted to determine whether crow really does make a better drink than gekko. Turns out that it’s equally as poor although after much discussion the consensus of opinion was that crow is smoother than gekko.