Ladies and Germs, last night I sampled black bear at Nhu Y, everyones favorite Argyle Ave u-grill-it/fondue vietnamese variety meat cafe. The Black Bear was the special -- for $26 (!) you get a cast iron skillet, an individual gas burner, a half pound of butter intablespoon and a half sized pats, individual condiment plates with silken tofu and some sort of herb mix, and a platter of raw bear meat, fresh baby eggplant in slices and bisected okra pods. Free of charge comes assistance and encouragement from the other diners, giggles, incredulity that a non vietnamese would want such strong meat, and the feeling of taboo busting, bear fat guzzling, exotic meat eating accomplishment.
We melted two pats of butter in our frying pan (by the end of the evening my dining companion and I had consumed at least a half a stck of butter each), fried the bear fat until well well cooked (the exact wording of the instrcuctions we received was "burn the meat", so burn the meat we did), at the last minute we added some okra and eggplant, just barely cooking them in bear fat and butter. The taste was fine -- it wa a slightly tough, greasy red meat -- not noticeably sweeter that flank steak or strip steak. There were some really fatty bits, which I imagined to be the vietnamese balck bear equivalent of chicharron. I wouldn't say that the meat had any particularly noticeable characteristics that made it all that different from regular red meat, except perhaps the smoothness of the fat.
In the future, I probably would choose one of the exotic meat preparations that do not require me to do the cooking. Luckily the menu is full of non u-grill-it options: there are entire sections on rabbit, deer, wild boar, buffalo, Kangaroo, snake alligator and goat. Things that look good/interesting: sauteed squid with pickled mustard greens, rabbit steamed with rum, hot pot soup with eel, wild boar grilled with all 5 spices flavor, deer meat wrapped in aromatic hawaiian leaf, snake rice soup with mung bean, and special royalty rice dish (eat like a king for 7.95!). I'm planning to go back next tuesday to sample the wild boar, but I'm not sure how much exotic meat I can take at one sitting, not to mention the price: most of the exotic meat options are $ 26 for a "large" portion.
After our touch of bear, we had a second dinner at Udupi -- excellent rasam, very nive rava masala dosa with spicy aloo -- like a great big thin indian latke. The poori were also great.