Pics or you didn’t eat it…

Sharing new, exotic, and bizarre foods is a highlight for many travelers who embrace their inner Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern while on the road. The rise of food Instagram capturing everything from meticulous Michelin-starred gastronomy to fried scorpions on a stick has become popular among its 400 million monthly active users.

We love expertly shot #foodporn, particularly when it features travelers trying terrifying treats and must-try #bizarrefoods. Just ask anyone who has been to Asia and they are likely to brag about eating or taking at least one photo of a deep fried something-on-a-stick. We scoured our Instagram feeds to bring you the best photos of out-of-comfort-zone eats by intrepid travelers. Pics or it didn’t happen.

Here are our favorites and where you can find these foods for your own mouth-watering, Instagram-worthy photo ops.

Stinky Tofu

Stinky tofu: you can smell it before you spot it on Qibao Old Street in Qibao, an ancient water town outside Shanghai where Instagram user Shanshan Lam tried the snack that is popular in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Chòu dòufu (臭豆腐) is a fermented tofu that is pungent and served steamed, stewed or fried. Stinky tofu is just one of many famous Shanghai street foods.

“We went from having xiao long bao (soup dumplings) for breakfast, eating lamb skewers and stinky tofu from the streets of Qibao for lunch to freshly hand made noodles for dinner followed by drinks at the amazing Ritz Carlton on level 58,” said Lam.


Preparing for my first #balut! #bizarrefoods #Manila #asia #travel A photo posted by Steve R. (@lvcsteve) on

Eating balut isn’t for the faint of heart. Steve R. jumped right in at Serendra in Bonifacio Global City, a residential community populated with restaurants and shops in Manila, Philippines, and Dexter Foxworth tried it with his travel companion in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The Filipino delicacy is an 18-day old fertilized duck. This national snack is sold in street stalls and fancy restaurants, and the boiled egg is comprised of a savory soup, the semi-formed duck or chicken and a veiny yolk. “Lets just [say] there’s a reason why “local delicacies” stay local,” said Foxworth, who had trouble getting past the feathers. Whether you knock it back as a shot or eat it piece-by-piece, balut is a dish you won’t soon forget.


Tried scorpion for the first time. Not bad, could have used a little salt. ?#kateatsthailand A photo posted by Kat Eats LA ? (@kateatsla) on

Yes, you can actually eat scorpion – and some would say it tastes delicious, like buttery popcorn. Traditionally eaten in China for medicinal purposes (once cooked, the scorpion isn’t poisonous), the deep fried wonder has popped up all over the world, from night markets in China to state fairs in the U.S. to Khaosan Road, a lively street filled with food stalls, trinket hawkers and backpackers in central Bangkok, Thailand, where Kat Eats LA tried her first scorpion. Her verdict? It could have used a little salt.

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Spiders, crickets, and ants

Adding to the long list of ubiquitous deep fried critters found throughout night markets in Asia, TheApothecaryChef tried savory spiders, crickets, frog legs and ants after a day of exploring Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Their favorite: “The crickets. It’s easy to eat, juicy and I’m familiar with [the] flavor. It’s also a delicacy in our country.”

Snake blood

Scores of tourists seeking obscure serpentine suppers head to Le Mat, a snake village in Hanoi, Vietnam, where locals have been breeding snakes for hundreds of years. Here, locals kill snakes, slit them open and drain snake blood into shots of rice wine before preparing a meal with the remains of the snake. Mayke Moraes gave it a try last year. Cheers!


It’s risky eating pufferfish or blowfish (also called fugu in Japanese) because its liver, ovaries and skin contain a deadly toxin, tetrodotoxin. Eating the flesh is a sought after and pricey affair at Japanese restaurants. Deb tried it at Kum Soo restaurant in Busan, South Korea, and lived to tell the tale.


Tarantula is a popular bizarre food option on menus across Asia, from food markets to high-end restaurants. MrAnthWard captured teachenglishinchina trying out the tasty treat at the Donghuamen Night Market in Beijing. “It came about when my brother was visiting me in China and he pointed at it without actually wanting it. Because of the language barrier, the man assumed we did, so he fried it and gave it to us. We had no choice then but to try it, and I was pretty hesitant at first. But the more I looked at it, the less of a weird idea it became. I had half and my brother had half,” said Anthony of @teachenglishinchina. “It tasted really dry and [there] wasn’t any kind of nice flavors. I wouldn’t eat it again for that reason, but I would try other things. Overall, it was a pretty funny and memorable experience.”

Lauren Hoffman tried it during a trip to the Central Market in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The vegetarian wanted to try local Khmer cuisine, which includes tarantulas.

“If it looks good, eat it!” #Cambodia #tarantula #bizarrefoods #pubstreet A photo posted by Amber Salmon (@alabasteramber) on

Amber Salmon also tried tarantula in Cambodia during her time in Siem Reap. “This was my second trip back to Cambodia. I volunteer in an orphanage, and was there with some friends to celebrate Christmas with the kids! I knew eating tarantulas was popular in Cambodia, so I figured I would try it,” said Salmon. “While walking the streets of Siem Reap, I saw a vendor selling them and instantly bought one! We immediately drew attention, as people watched us eat these things! Unsurprisingly, it tasted like chicken.”

Fried maggots

Fried maggots in thailand.. #phuket #thailand #nightmarket #bizarrefoods #bizarrefoodswithandrewzimmern A photo posted by Xime (@ximenasayssmile) on

Xime got in touch with her inner Andrew Zimmern while traveling through Phuket, Thailand. She tried fried maggots at the night market on the picturesque island in the Andaman Sea, gleefully posting the experience on Instagram.

Chicken feet

#FootInMyMouth #ChickenFeet #LocalTreat #Why #China #ImVegetarianNow A photo posted by Chae Amando (@chaeamando) on

Chae Amando put a foot in his mouth – literally – during his time in Macau. Chicken feet are a highlight of dim sum offerings the world over.


Main image: iStockPhoto/Michał Ludwiczak

Slider image: istolethetv, skewered via Flickr CC BY 2.0

About the author

Lauren MackLauren Mack has traveled to 40 countries on five continents, including Cuba, New Zealand, Peru and Tanzania. For many years, she called China, and then Taiwan, home. Countries at the beginning of the alphabet, particularly Antarctica, Argentina and Australia are on her travel bucket list. Lauren is a multimedia travel and food journalist and explorer based in New York City.

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