Our trip to Le Mat snake village did not start well, with our suspiciously helpful and over-friendly cab driver dropping us at one of the snake meat restaurants. Strangely, there were no other diners around in the huge multi-floor restaurant. The menu listed cobra for 1.2M (which I thought was way overpriced) and a snake was swiftly brought out by the handler. Sensing a scam, we decided to take off and find another restaurant on our own.
We wandered around for 20min and found Nguyen Van Duc. I recognised the signboard from prior research done online and we went in, relieved. When we took a look at the menu, it was the exact same one as the first restaurant. Judging from this and a couple of huge signboards we saw by the road, Nguyen Van Duc has two restaurants, the first one we were at was a branch. So it wasn't a scam after all! However, I was glad that we came here as it was much more atmospheric compared to the branch and it was good fun wandering the dark alleys. Plus there were 2 tables of locals dining here, which was a reassuring sign.
We decided to go for a cobra and it was swiftly killed in front of us, after posing for a few photographs of course! Its blood was drained and heart extracted, and its body was taken into the kitchen to be made into around 10 different dishes. The blood and bile were separately mixed with rice wine and drunk together with the heart. The rice wine overpowered the taste so you can't really taste the blood or bile. As for the dishes that came later, I honestly only liked the spring rolls. A couple other dishes were alright while the rest did not taste good. That said, it was still worth it for the novelty factor. One of the staff spoke reasonable English so communication was not a problem. It was nice of him to arrange a taxi back to Hanoi for us after our meal.
Note that you have to buy the whole snake, even if you are alone, so do come with a group to split the cost. Apparently the price is negotiable so do try your luck (1.2M is really expensive). I only found out online after I came back home.
Highly recommended for the experience!
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