The best thing about the goat's blood Jell-o at Westminster's Binh Dan is its color, a red so shocking it might have been peeled off a William Eggleston print. The second best thing is watching diners compose their faces and suppress their gag-reflexes before tasting their first bite.
The creative use of hooves, offal and blood is a testament to human ingenuity and culinary resourcefulness, but I was wary. I am no culinary daredevil. The consumption of blood was never part of my childhood — or my adult — diet. I don't aspire to Andrew Zimmern's throne. And so, before my first bite, I prepared myself.
The first course of de 7 mon, Binh Dan's legendary seven-course goat feast, arrives with slivers of goat liver pâté quivering atop a thin sheet of jelly so spectacularly and vividly red, it's like Technicolor dropped acid.
The stuff is too wobbly to be easily forked. Better to plop it onto a sliver of sesame cracker, dose it with lime juice and the accompanying sauce then top it with a minty basil leaf.
Nerves steadied and stomach steeled, I prepared for my first bite. The surprise is that goat's blood doesn't taste disgusting or unique or of some profound animal essence one cannot experience merely by eating goat flesh. In fact, it doesn't even taste much like goat. Looks can be deceiving. The goat's blood jelly at Binh Dan is far less goaty than the birria at My Taco.
Among those who regularly eat goat, this dish, despite its beauty, is perhaps one of the animal's milder preparations. For non-blood-eaters, however, this is daredevil eating at its finest, a way to impress friends with your culinary bravado by eating something that looks and sounds far scarier than it tastes. Now, if only Bill Cosby could take goat's blood Jell-O mainstream.