For many cultures, consuming creepy crawlies has been a delicious source of protein for thousands of years. For most people in London, however, the idea of doing so has been banished to the distant future, when experts warn we will have to adapt to eating bugs in order to survive. Somewhere in the middle, here in 2023, London’s chefs and mixologists have decided to begin toying with the idea, either to celebrate a country’s traditional cuisine, for environmental reasons, or simply to try something new.
For an easy introduction, head to Southern Thai Plaza Khao Gaeng, which uses a pheromone from beetles named lethocerus indicus in the moreish Maeng da Lagerita cocktail, or take a sip of legendary mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana’s experimental Wolf-y Bam Sour at Lyaness, concocted with Del Maguey Vida mezcal, tree caramel, roasted cricket syrup, rowan berry, deer antler powder, Johnnie Walker Red and a splash of Talisker.
For a more savoury take, see Mexican restaurant Santo Remedio’s crunchy grasshopper topped guacamole, and ask Latin American eatery Paladar to introduce you to its crispy Colombian hormigas culonas (literally ‘big-assed ants’), which can be served atop amuse-bouches. Meanwhile, food start-up Yum Bug has partnered with tapas restaurant Morito in Exmouth Market to serve spiced cricket hummus. Plus, Laotian spot Lao Café is offering up malang tod (deep fried bugs), and at swish Japanese Edomae restaurant The Aubrey, the hamachi nigiri is topped with surprisingly citrusy dried black ants, and chefs are now developing an extended bug-happy menu. Go forth and insect — sorry, inspect — for yourself.