Whole yak penis, tiger penis, ox penis, dog penis or sheep testicles, anyone?
One man’s food is another man’s poison but at Guo Li Zhuang Chinese Restaurant, one man’s taboo is another man’s tonic.
A visit to the restaurant is not for the faint-hearted. It specializes in dishes prepared from the genitals (penises and testicles) of male animals from a wide variety of species such as horse, ox, donkey, dog, deer, goat, sheep, seal, yak and snake.
The first restaurant was opened by the Guo family in the Chinatown of Atlanta, Georgia in 1956 on the occasion of the birth of Jason Guo, the eldest son in the 7th generation of the Guo family. The first Guo Li Zhuang restaurant in Beijing opened in November 2006 on the aptly-named Dongsishitiao Street. Word quickly spread among well-heeled Chinese and restaurants have been opened in several locations in Beijing.
The name of the restaurant is derived from homophones of the family name of its founder (Guo), the family name of his wife (Li), as well as the nickname of his son (Zhuang) and literally means “the strength inside the pot”.
The dishes are supposed to include medicinal secrets passed down in the Guo family and are often given poetic names such as “The Essence of the Golden Buddha,” “Phoenix Rising,” “Jasmine Flowers with 1,000 Layers”, “Look for the Treasure in the Desert Sand”, “Head crowned with a Jade Bracelet”, and “Dragon in the Flame of Desire”. The flowery names are probably to prevent guests from prematurely running off, haha! You will never see the word “animal penis” appear on the menu. Instead, it appears under the euphemism bian, which means “whip”, or “lash”.
The “jasmine flowers” are made of layers of thinly sliced donkey penis, and the “treasure in the desert” is actually is chunks of donkey ‘whip’ deep-fried.
“Henry’s whip,” is sheep’s penis on a stick, covered in a sheath of mayonnaise and sweet cheese. It’s called “Henry” because it’s prepared in a Western style.
A soup simply called “Man should be strong” is brewed with cattle and lamb penises and juiced up with pig trotters, ham, pigeon and duck.
“Whip flower with dragon well tea” is soft, tender but chewy yak penis sliced with fancy knife-work and infused with longjing tea.
A rare dish concocted from tiger’s penis can set you back about $6,000 (And that is in US dollars, not renminbi). And it is something that needed to be ordered months in advance.
The Chinese believe that eating these is said to have medicinal benefits, being good for complexions and, of course, virility. For thousands of years, Chinese medicine has used animal penises to cure kidney and erection problems. But for their medicinal effect to work, the dishes have to be consumed regularly.
But if you are looking for something that works faster, the restaurant has a wine that contains extracts of heart, penis, and blood from a deer. Rumored to have an effect within 30 minutes, this potency cocktail has been said to be better than Viagra, and it has no side effects.
The penis binge is not meant for Chinese guests as a superficial test of courage, but rather as a serious treatment for the libido. “The sexual act of this Russian dog lasts 48 hours and its mating season is seven months out of the year,” is how the colorful, photo-filled menu praises a $25 penis dish.
A certain degree of care appears to be required when choosing a dish, depending partly on what one has planned for later in the evening. The sex and age of the customer also play a role. Women should not eat testicles. The hormones could give them a deeper voice and a beard. Penises, on the other hand, are completely harmless, and in fact are even good for the skin.
Children under 15 are not allowed in the penis restaurant; the hormones are said to interfere with natural growth.
All the guests sit in private booths, and most of them are older couples or all-male groups. A lot of the customers are wealthy business people entertaining clients and government bureaucrats. They order the most expensive dishes — their companies are picking up the tabs.
General manager Guo Jing says the restaurant serves more than 60 different animal penises in nine main categories including bull, goat, donkey, horse, venison, dog and snake. In the ox category alone, they serve penises from several different species including Tibetan yak, yellow oxen from Hebei province and Zhejiang province buffalo.
Seven different processes are used to thoroughly rid the animal parts of any unpleasant smell.
“The parts don’t have any particular taste of their own, so they need to be prepared with seasoning to give them flavor,” Guo says.
Animal penises are said to be rich in collagen, beneficial for the skin for both men and women. In addition, most have residual traces of testosterone, which can be a boost for men’s virility and an anti-depressant for women.
Guo’s business card says Guo Li Zhuang is “the only restricted nourishing restaurant in China”. Diner must be at least 16 to eat at the restaurant both because of physical concerns and for fear of embarrassing patrons in front of children.
What is it like to dine on the ‘whips’ or penises? Most people experience heat first in the lower abdomen, which later warms up the whole body. The restaurant used to give away free condoms to every male diner as a publicity stunt although you can still get one if you ask for it.
Discretion is assured as all the tables are in private rooms, with five small ones on ground floor and three larger ones on the next level. There are a la carte and hot pot options with the average cost ranging from as low as 100 yuan per person to as high as 5,000 yuan per diner.