Dining out at Warsaw's insect restaurant

Article published on Oct. 8, 2013
Article published on Oct. 8, 2013

I'm generally a believer that insects look better in a glass tank than on a dining table. However, having previously tried scorpion and snake in Vietnam, I thought I'd be up for the challenge of consuming a few creepy crawlies in the Polish capital's newest eatery

Culinary curiosity draws me to the sticks of the Kabaty neighbourhood (which is far off the beaten track for a native of Wola, which is close to the city centre), to Warsaw's first ever insect restaurant Co To To Je. I had envisaged a venue run by hip, young, traveller types, but upon entering I find the staff look more like a family from the backwoods of West Virginia. Images of Deliverance spring disturbingly to my mind. I am half expecting to hear the words 'squeal' and 'pig' in the same sentence.

'It's scientifically proven that insect meat is healthier than fish,' says the manager enthusiastically. 'In years to come, eating insects will be as common as eating meat.' My curiousity whetted, it is time to begin. For the entree I select the woodworm, locust and larvae skewers. 'You can eat everything except the wings,' the waitress advises. Oddly enough, I've never been a massive fan of locust wings... It is at about this point that I start to sweat and my heart ups its normal pace. It doesn't help that Mr. Locust seems to be smiling at me. However, after a deep breath I wade in. It tastes quite good; a bit like chicken skin but not so salty. 

Next up are some deep fried locust tempura. Not being able to see my new friends is a big help this time round, for what is definitely the standout dish. The tempura has plenty of flavour to go with the novelty factor, with a slight seafood after-taste.

Finally comes the big challenge, a soup spoon loaded with fried wood worms and larvae. 'Just don't think about it,' I tell myself. This indeed proves the best policy. Once inside my mouth the grubs taste a bit like bland, slightly crunchy chicken skin but without any of the redeming fatty goodness. Apparently the most unusual dishes don't necessarily have the most interesting flavours.

So that's that, another few animals ticked off on the eating list. While it was worth it as a one off fun visit, I'm not sure I'll be swapping my normal meats for these critters any time soon.