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Insects Are on the Menu at Bangkok's New Eatery

September 25, 2017

Published on Sep 25, 2017

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Were it not for the cocoa-dusted silkworms garnishing the dish, an unknowing diner might never realise there was anything out of the ordinary about this tiramisu. There may be only three dainty insects visible but 30% of the luscious mascarpone cream in the confection is powdered pupae, which add a barely detectable bitterness that harmonises with the espresso-saturated sponge fingers. The same goes for the innocuous-looking ravioli stuffed with mascarpone, Provençal herbs and water beetle flesh, which tastes like crab.

“Water beetles are big – if you saw one you probably wouldn’t want to eat it,” says Bangkok chef Thitiwat “Mai” Tantragarn, a veteran of local fine-dining restaurants such as D’Sens and Medici. In Thailand’s north-eastern Isan region, water beetles are fried and salted, then scoffed like six-legged popcorn. Yet the only time you’re likely to see them in Bangkok is on touristy Khao San Road. The team at Insects in the Backyard, which recently opened in the city’s new ChangChui creative complex, hopes to rid these arthropods of their stigma. “I want this to be accessible,” says Mai. “I’m not trying to make scary food.”

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He insists this isn’t a gimmick, but an earnest attempt to find value in something many here look down on. After all, some of the world’s top chefs have championed similar concepts, including René Redzepi at Noma in Copenahagen and Alex Atala at São Paulo’s DOM, who have both has used ants to spice up a dish.


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