5 Restaurants That May Be Trying To Kill You

Bad fish and blind dates notwithstanding, going out to eat is usually a safe affair. But that's no reason to get soft. At restaurants around the world, dangerous dishes challenge diners' courage and constitutions. From a Las Vegas landmark that prides itself on its death toll to a Korean octopus appetizer that literally strangles the eater, these are the world's five most life-threatening eateries. Don't say we didn't warn you.

  1. Sardinia: Mercato San Benedetto

The traditional sheep's milk cheese casu marvu is technically illegal on Sardinia, its island of origin. Still, the rebel without a cause is served in private homes and available from less law-abiding vendors at Mercato San Benedetto, a two-story, 43,000-square-foot covered market that dates back to the 1950s. Here's how the dairy danger works: a small wheel of cheese is deliberately injected with Piophila casei, a cousin to the fruit fly. The insect breeds maggots, which grow within the cheese. As a result, when daring Sardinians dig into the matured casu marvu, they are greeted by wriggling maggot larvae, known to jump up to six inches in the air. When eaten, the larvae pass through the system largely undigested, giving them ample opportunity for intestinal damage. Via Ottone Bacaredda, Cagliari, Sardinia

  • Las Vegas: Heart Attack Grill
  • The average size of an American quick service meal tends to be three times that of its European counterparts. Supersized burgers, giant quesadillas and even mega-croissants are common at chains across the country, as are controversially large sodas. While most fast food emporiums have taken pains to hype newly introduced, lower-calorie menu items, Las Vegas' aptly named Heart Attack Grill makes no such overtures. Burger sizes range from "single bypass" (one cheese-topped patty) to "quadruple bypass" (a breathtaking four patties with layers of cheese and as many toppings as possible for human consumption), and are accompanied by triple-fat milkshakes and fries cooked in pure lard. Meals are free for patrons weighing in at over 350 pounds. All diners are called "patients," and white-clad waitresses "nurses." In the timeless words of the Thompson Twins: Doctor! Doctor! 450 Fremont Street, Las Vegas

  • Tokyo: Ajiman
  • The world's best-known culinary hazard, fugu is a poisonous Japanese blowfish whose deadly sins have been profiled everywhere from BBC News to a 1991 episode of The Simpsons. A known menace to society since Captain James Cook's 1774 journey to the Pacific, contemporary fugu fans rely on chefs with superlative knife skills to separate the edible delicacy from the fatal tetrodotoxin, a poison with no known antidote. During fugu season, from October to early spring, Ajiman, a two-Michelin-star spot in Tokyo's Roppongi neighborhood, highlights fugu in multi-course omakase menus that start at around $450 per person. The family-run establishment books up early, so aim to make your date with death well in advance. 1F, 3 Chrome 8, Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo 106-0032

  • New York City: Brick Lane Curry House
  • India's northeastern Assam region is renowned for its widely exported tealeaves, but it's the indigenous bhut jolokia, or ghost chili, that gives hungry travelers pause. Ranked the spiciest chili in the world, bhut jolokia has over 1,000,000 Scoville units, the scientific measurement for spice. (By means of comparison, Tabasco sauce typically has between 2,500-5,000 Scoville units.) The ghost comes alive in phaal curry, a British-Indian fusion dish made with no fewer than 10 chilis. So hot that chefs typically wear protective facemasks to prepare it, phaal is the world's fieriest curry. At Brick Lane Curry House, an unassuming spot in Manhattan's East Village, managing partner Sati Sharma, formerly a chef in New Delhi, admitted that he can eat it just one teaspoon at a time. 306-308 East 6th Street, New York, NY

  • Seoul: Minimani
  • No strangers to the art of small plates and bar snacks, daring Korean cooks test diners' resolve with sannakji, a popular form of hoe (raw dish). Live nakji, or small octopus, is chopped into three-inch pieces while still squirming, and then tossed with sesame oil and crunchy seeds. Because the tentacles are so fresh, their suction cups are still active and can literally asphyxiate uninitiated diners. (Note to travelers: chew all food thoroughly.) When Korean-American restaurants in Queens, NY, began serving sannakji, they were met with PETA picket lines. But at Minimani, a barbecue restaurant in Seoul's Myeong-Dong district, the dangerous dish is served whenever fresh nakji is available. Adventurous diners can order sannakji off the menu, accompanied by considerably more peaceful banchan like kimchi and mayonnaise-topped cabbage. 199-44, Euljiro2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul

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