So, I get asked questions about eating dog meat here in Korea from folks back home. Yes, Koreans do eat dog meat, but not very often. Most of them never eat it. Yes, they have dogs as pets. No, they don’t "have" to eat it because there isn’t enough beef/pork/etc to go around, it is considered a delicacy and is actually more expensive than other meats. No, you can’t find it at just any restaurant (or in a supermarket). Yes, there are particular dogs bred for meat (they are actually a very nice looking dog). Yes, they will cook other breeds, but usually just in poorer areas of the country.
And until today, the number one question I get asked I could answer: No, I haven’t tried it.
Today Mira and her husband took me for lunch. They wanted to do something for me because I have been helping Mira, a former Korean coworker, with her writing without charging her (in a country where I could charge approximately $55 per hour). Mira offered to take me to a fancy spa and a nice restaurant. I tenatively told her that the one thing in Korea I would really like to try is dog meat. I didn’t want to offend her, but Mira agreed that they could take me to a restaurant where you could eat it even though neither she or her husband have ever eaten it. Like I said, not all Koreans have eaten it. Before we even got to the restaurant, Mira’s husband said he wouldn’t eat it out of principle – he likes dogs – but he did once we got there.
The restaurant was nice. It was out of the way in the "country", but only about 30 minutes away from where I live. The "dining room" was lovely – there were low Korean-style tables set out under tarps beside a creek. Mira and her husband both speak English well, so it was nice to sit there with them and their two daughters (aged 2 and 4).
I know, I know… get on to the meat (HA!) of the story already. Okay… here it goes….
Dog meat looks mostly like roast beef. There are parts that look all fatty and gross, like pig. But the part I would consider "good meat" looked… well, looked exactly like roast beef.
Now, the taste… I’m a little lost on how to describe it. I suppose it tasted more like cow than pig or chicken – it tasted NOTHING like chicken. It reminded me more of the wild game (moose, deer, bear, elk, etc) that I have eaten (thanks to a huntin’ dad) than anything else, but not as gamey. And it was served with sauses (the first course) and in a highly garlic-y soup (second course) so it was hard to say. I did try some with nothing on it, and I’m still hard-pressed to make a comparison.
Bottom line? Dog tastes like dog, I suppose. Was it gross? No. Would I go out of my way to eat it again? Nah… beef is better. But I do feel like I’ve definitely had a culinary experience that not many people can say they have had. Or that many people would WANT to say they have had. Now maybe I will relent and try those disgusting smelling silkworm larvae that you can buy on the streets…