Bull Penis at Kenka

June, 2006


By Danielle Virgin

I knew that our evening at Kenka would prove to be entertaining when we arrived at the restaurant and were carded before we could enter.  Once inside, I understood why.  Kenka’s cute and amusing ambiance with its low tables and loud music is popular with the local NYU crowd because of its extensive menu with very cheap prices.

First CourseOur first course included raw octopus in wasabi, fried squid legs and beaks and monster oysters. Everyone seemed to be big fans of the raw octopus in wasabi.  Be careful of the wasabi….it can get you when you aren’t paying attention.  There have been two items that seem to keep appearing on our Gastronauts menu: tripe and squid.  The squid at Kenka was much like squid we had previously yet still very enjoyable.

The oysters proved to be very difficult for some of the Gastronauts – myself included.  I wasn’t sure if it was the size of the oysters, (they were listed as monster oysters and were about the size of my fist), or if it was the gelatinous wet texture that gave me trouble.  What I am sure of was though, was that once it entered my mouth, I knew I was very close to having that oyster reappear on the table.  Something about that slimy little sucker triggered my gag reflex like no one’s business.  As my eyes started welling up with fearful tears, it took the coaching of fellow Gastro girl – Lauren P – to get me relax so that I could swallow the oyster.  To those individuals that order oysters on the half shell as appetizers, I ask you: WHY?

Main CourseThe tongue that we had previously at Salinas was quite enjoyable so I had somewhat high expectations and Kenka did not disappoint.  As we ate the tasty’s pig feet, I wondered why go through the trouble of preparing as there really isn’t much meat there.  The feet were served with a sauce that was somewhat comparable to a sweet and tangy barbeque sauce which made them finger lickin’ good.   
I was not a fan of the salted raw squid with natto.  I was surprised that I didn’t like it and imagine that the raw egg had something to do with it.  The dish is served in a small bowl and the items are all separate.  You are left to stir up all the ingredients in the egg and then dish it out and eat it with your chopsticks.  The thick egg helps keep it together that your chopsticks are able to scoop something up.  Again- a lot of work for only a little nibble.

Unfortunately Kenka was out of a few of our menu items we had been looking forward to including: fried frog and turkey testicles, so instead they offered us fish sausage.  About the only way to describe the fish sausage is to say that when offered I had a hint of excitement in that it looked like string cheese that you can purchase in any dairy section at the grocery store.  My excitement quickly turned into nervousness as the fish sausage was unwrapped.  I can only describe the fish sausage as looking like a human finger.  It was a nice effort on behalf of Kenka… I do believe that I could have done without the sausage and am convinced that it was the reason that I had to stop at McDonald’s on the way home.

The pièce de résistance was of course the chinko, also known as bull’s penis.  Now, I have asked myself in the days since Kenka if I would have attempted chinko had I not known what it was.  I honestly believe that it was the tough texture that was making it difficult for me to get my hands around it (so to speak).  After the slimy texture of the oysters, I realized that my throat had had enough excitement and terror for one evening.  Was I ashamed?  Yes…  I had overcome the cuy dog, I had gone round after round with tripe….but I had to accept that the penis won this round ….and I was going to have to admit defeat.

Kenka lost some fans as they kept offering additional items that were in lieu of other items.  One of which was a sort of pudding ice cream craziness that seemed turn everyone’s face a bit sour. However, they quickly made up for it as they passed out the cups of pink crystals and sticks to each of us so that we could try our hand at making our very own cotton candy.  Believe you me I have had my fair share of cotton candy but this cotton candy was that much more sweet from because I made it.  I was like a crack addict as I began swiping other cups of the sugary crystals and pouring them into that glorious machine. My eyes were wide with excitement as I stuck most of my arm in and started spinning my sticks round and round while my magic crystals turned into a gigantic pink cloud of sugar.

It was the perfect way to end what was already a good night filled with food, drinks and laughter.  Will I go back to Kenka?  Yes – even if only for another chance with my beloved cotton candy machine.


25 St. Marks Pl.,
New York NY 10003 
Tuesday, June 6, 2006

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