Monday, September 6, 2010

Beverage at Cobra Palace

At dusk the slithering begins.
With a name as long as its namesake, the Istana Raja Kobra Restaurant King Cobra House on Jl: Mangga Besar Raya #93c, north Jakarta, serves snake blood in white China teacups.

The restaurant is sparse and cheapened by ceiling strip lighting. Beside the entrance is a corner kitchen where pans of snake meat simmer. At the far end of the narrow restaurant is a door leading to the pantry, much of which wriggles.
"A cup of snake's blood, please."
"Which would you prefer? We have black spitting cobras, striped racers, kali mangsa, bamboo vipers, pit vipers, or pythons."
"The yellow and black stripy one, please."
With a pair of tongs, Ono hoicks a lively kali mangsa from a cage of dozens. He lays its head across a wooden chopping board and cleaves it off. The jaws flex on the board while Ono holds the open neck above a black cup and drains the body of blood. 

He later peels the skin from the snake like a stocking from a leg.

In the restaurant a shot of gall wine arak is added to the blood before being served. It tastes like Christmas: spicy, warm, thick.
"Remember, don't drink tea or coffee for the next four hours," says waitress Dina.
"Why not?"
"The blood will lose its effect."

Purported effects include curing diabetes, backaches, 'dirty blood', and wet and dry eczema, as well as dull eyes and breathlessness.

"Yes, a snake did escape once," Dina admitted. "But it slithered out the back and not through the restaurant so the customers didn't see."

Istana Raja Kobra (+62 21 621 6087) has been in business since 1965 and is open from 10am to 11pm.

Out on the street, lined with informal street vendors selling cobras in cages, a man pauses to say that he drinks snake blood once a week. "Any more than that would be overkill," he counsels.

Don't forget your snake goggles.

1 comment:

  1. I listen that is ilegal in Europe - today I was there and I have a question. Can I speak about it, show my pictures as I drink blood etc.? It´s legal or ilegal when I am from Europe, but I tried it in Jakarta?