Butod, or sago larvae, is a traditional delicacy in Sabah’s rural community in Malaysia. It is gaining popularity outside of its usual community after a restaurant owner came up with innovative ways to prepare the dish.
D’Place Kinabalu, one of the few eateries that serve Butod, is now offering a variety of grub dishes to suit even the most discerning palates, reports Free Malaysia Today.
Normally consumed by the Kadazandusun Murut community as an appetizer at social gatherings, the larvae are a good source of protein, according to D’Place Kinabalu owner, Sandra Paut.
“We are known as one of the places that supply and serve Butod daily. Our customers comprise mainly tourists, although more locals are now also looking for this kind of food,” she said.
She noted that the demand for Butod has picked up and attracted new customers since she started experimenting with its preparation.
“We buy 500 Butod from Kuala Penyu every week and about 450 are sold weekly before the worms die,” she added.
Butod, which hatch from the eggs of the snout beetle, can only live between five to seven days after they are taken out of their natural environment.
They are usually found in the decaying trunks of the sago palm tree or fallen trunks of coconut trees. As larvae, they survive by feeding on the starch contents of the tree trunks.
Paut said she was forced to come up with creative ways to attract new customers as she understood that most people are not too keen on the idea of eating bugs.
“In order for you to maintain your business edge, you need to come up with something new,” she explained. “I was eating sushi one day when I thought of Butod sushi. It’s simple as it just needs to be the right bite-size and easy to eat. Not many people dare to eat the live worms so this is acceptable. Now it is our signature dish and we are famous for it.”
Aside from Butod sushi, the Butod pizza has also become a favorite dish among customers at D’Place Kinabalu. For the adventurous ones, there is also an option to eat them while they are still alive and squiggling.
“We normally introduce three levels, with the live ones being the extreme,” Paut shared, noting that Korean and Chinese tourists are typically the ones who consume the live worms.
D’Place Kinabalu, which serves other local Kadazan Dusun and Malaysian dishes, can be found on the 2nd floor of Plaza Shell in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.
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