Brains, heads and intestines: Takeaways fit for a zombie’s dinner at level 3 Halloween

It’s Halloween tomorrow, but traditional trick or treating is effectively off the cards this year with the Health Ministry saying celebrations outside one’s bubble shouldn’t happen.

But at a time when takeaways are the only dining out that we can do, why not get some of the nastiest, most stomach-turning food to embrace your inner zombie for a Halloween picnic instead.

For Halloween weekend, Chinese eatery Mr Hao is offering a disgusting-looking spicy takeaway dish of Szechuan pig brains for $5 with any order at its flagship restaurant on Dominion Rd.

Make the most with takeaways that could normally make some of our stomachs turn – nibble on some intestines, dig into masala lamb brains or carve up meat from a pig’s head for a ghoulish, but safe, Hallow’s eve and night with your bubbles in your backyard.

Julian Diprose, co-owner of Mr Hao, said pig brain is a delicacy widely consumed in China and is considered by some as a “super food”.

The brain meat contains omega 3 fatty acids and nutrients which are good for the nervous system, and eating them helps protect the human brain and cord from damage, according to a Medical News Today report.

“We’re offering this as a special just to add a little variety and fun for customers since we’re all still in lockdown this Halloween,” Diprose said.

“It will make a memorable Halloween for people to share horror stories and dig into a bowl of zombie food spicy sauce pig brains.”

Pig brains looks spongy, but have a tofu-soft texture with a taste that’s really hard to describe, Mr Hao chef Xiao Wang said.

The pig brains are boiled and marinated in a complex series of spices, before being barbecued in Szechuan-style sauce over the grill.

Another dish you could add to your Halloween-night dinner table is bheja fry, or masala lamb brains from Bawarchi Restaurant in Sandringham.

“We don’t celebrate Halloween, but I agree that bheja fry will be an interesting one to have for those who are celebrating,” said Bawarchi owner Azeem Mohammed.

This spicy lamb brain dish is a popular street dish in Hyderabad and Mumbai, and is a star also at festivals such as Eid. When sheep are sacrificed, the brains of the slaughtered animals are removed and cooked to make the dish.

The texture and taste of the brain is somewhat like soft tofu or scrambled eggs that are cooked with chillies, onions and ginger.

Bawarchi is the only place in New Zealand that has this permanently on the menu, according to Azeem. Due to high export levels, it is quite difficult to find lamb brains here.

“The dish is quite literally mind-blowing, and it’s really one of the more popular items on the menu,” he said.

Azeem also suggested that people could have its other Mughlai dishes, like paya (lamb hooves), lamb kidney and sheep liver masala to complete their Halloween spread.

Not for the squeamish also is a dish called kway chap, which features rice noodle sheets in broth paired with braised ingredients such as pork intestines, pig ears, skin, tongue and other offal.

“The idea of nibbling on intestines may not be everyone’s idea of a delicious dinner, but this is very popular among those in the Singaporean and Malaysian communities here,” said Jennie Tan, owner of Treasure Kitchen Ōtāhuhu.

Since introducing the dish just a few months ago, kway chap has become one of her restaurant’s top-selling items.

One takeaway that looks that it might actually bite you back is Ulu Pua’a – Island style pig head – from Polynesian Food Takeaway in Avondale.

According to Lonely Planet’s Guide on how to eat pig face: “Offer the eyeball to your elder or your lover. Be cheeky and eat the most tender bit of the cheek. Look for the brain scraps and eat your way to a higher IQ.”

South Auckland mum Sefina Vaai, who eats Ulu Pua’a at least twice a month, says it is normal in her Samoan culture for people to eat pig head but thought it would be “such a cool idea” to get food items that may be considered “disgusting” to celebrate Halloween.

“We could do an eating competition, truth or dare games or even a zombie-themed dinner by hunting down these takeaways,” said Vaai, a mother of five.

“After all the stress of this year, I believe my children deserve some Halloween fun and this will be such a cool idea.”

Much of New Zealand will be in lockdown this Halloween, and the Ministry of Health is encouraging Aucklanders to stick to their bubbles, suggesting “Halloween fun” can be had with a themed treasure hunt around the house or backyard.

An outdoor Halloween gathering in a park with another household was allowed as long as there are no more than 10 people involved.

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