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Snake Restaurant: Venom, Blood & Snake Skin Salad

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The snake restaurant at the Huaxi night market in Taipei is one of the most bizarre restaurants I've ever visited. It was difficult to find since it was located in a side alley, also known as the snake alleyway.

Tips & Advice
  • Why: Most bizarre restaurant in Taiwan
  • Price: 250 NT for the complete snake combo experience
  • Where: 108台北市萬華區華西街45號 (map)
  • Tips: Ask for the special drinking process as the staff does speak a bit of English

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In Taiwan, experiencing snake shots is an adventure unlike any other, deeply rooted in traditional Chinese culture. The ritual begins with sipping half of the snake blood wine, followed by mixing each subsequent shot with the blood, consuming half each time. The lineup of shots is exotic and includes snake venom, snake penis wine, snake bile, ginseng, a traditional Chinese medicine, and culminates with taking snake oil capsules. In Chinese culture, these snake-based products are believed to offer numerous health benefits.

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Drinking snake shots in Taiwan is as commonplace as ordering lobster in Western countries. If you're wondering how snake venom can be consumed safely, it's because the venom's lethal proteins are neutralized when mixed with alcohol, rendering it non-toxic.

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The taste of snake venom is quite unique, somewhat reminiscent of the Greek liquor OUZO. While some may experience a mild, temporary paralysis, I only felt a slight dizziness, akin to a brief euphoric sensation from potent drugs.

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Walking into the snake restaurant, I was a bit drowsy, but the combination of these potent shots and the adrenaline rush they induced quickly revitalized me.

In Taiwanese culture, consuming snake products is not just a culinary practice but also a part of traditional health beliefs. According to these beliefs, snake blood, venom, and other derivatives are thought to have healing and strengthening properties. This is why snake shots are not just a thrilling experience but also considered beneficial for health.

The snake venom shot, a highlight of the snake shot ritual, offers a taste that is both intriguing and memorable. Its comparison to OUZO is due to its distinct flavor profile, which leaves a lasting impression. The experience of consuming snake venom, with its mild, dizzying effects, adds an element of excitement and uniqueness to the ritual.

Among the array of shots, ginseng and traditional Chinese medicine play a significant role. Ginseng is renowned for its energy-boosting properties, while traditional Chinese medicine brings centuries-old wisdom to the table. These elements add depth and cultural significance to the snake shot experience.

The finale of the snake shot sequence involves taking snake oil capsules. In traditional Chinese culture, snake oil is revered for its supposed health benefits, including its ability to alleviate aches and pains. This final step not only completes the ritual but also connects the drinker to a long-standing cultural practice.

Overall, the snake shot experience in Taiwan is not just about tasting unusual drinks; it's an immersion into a cultural practice steeped in tradition and health beliefs. Whether you're drawn to the adventure, the flavors, or the cultural significance, snake shots in Taiwan offer a unique and unforgettable experience. 

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