The Dish: Sannakji
Where to Get It: Soju Sarang, 4231 Markham St., Unit E, Annandale, (703) 256-3565, sojusarang.com
What It Is: A live baby octopus is scooped straight from a tank onto a cutting board. The bits are so fresh they squirm like worms for several minutes after they arrive at the table.
What It Tastes Like: The octopus has the same mild, clean sea flavor of cooked squid or octopus. The texture is chewy and slightly slimy with a crunch similar to jellyfish or cooked chicken cartilage.
The Story: Because octopi have a non-centralized nervous system, their tentacles continue to wiggle even when they’re cut off. In South Korea, sannakji is commonly served at restaurants specializing in sliced raw fish, or even as a bar snack along with some soju. Soju Sarang displays tanks with live lobsters, flounder, and other sea creatures that make their way onto the sashimi-centered menu, but the live octopus, imported from Korea, is the only one that moves on the plate. The dish is only available on Fridays.
How To Eat It: Dip the octopus in the accompanying salt-sprinkled sesame oil, then pop a piece in your mouth while it’s still writhing. Chew carefully, because the octopus’ suction cups not only stick to the plate, they can also stick to your mouth and throat, making them a potential choking hazard.