13 Exotic Foods that Look Weird but Taste Great

If you’ve seen Ugly Delicious on Netflix, you’ll understand what award-winning chef David Chang means when he says that sometimes, the ugliest food often tastes the best.

lychee photo
Photo by greissdesign (Pixabay)

It’s okay to admit that you’re a little biased when it comes to how your food looks. From picking produce at the grocery store to plates of food at a restaurant, we’re more tempted to try pretty food than something weird-looking. Right?

So, to encourage you to eat more ugly delicious food, we’re exploring some exotic dishes that look weird but taste great. Dig in — it’s time to expand your culinary horizons!

Chicken Feet

Might as well hit the ground running with our first weird looking food to make the list. Chicken feet look exactly how you might expect and it definitely puts a lot of people off. 

But, when cooked well, chicken feet are a favorite in many places around the world including East Asia, South Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. Would you try them?

Dragon Fruit

With the popularity of acai bowls filled with exotic fruits, dragon fruit has become more mainstream in recent years. But that doesn’t mean its strange exterior doesn’t make people think twice. Plus, its name does give off a sense that this fruit is intense!

However, the seedy inside is mild and yummy, similar to that of a melon. It adds just the right amount of sweetness to fruit salads and smoothie bowls, so go ahead — give it a try.

Jellyfish Jelly

Although jellyfish in the wild are extremely poisonous, once their tentacles are removed, the Chinese eat them as a delicacy. Who would’ve known that this weird-looking sea creature would have a sweet and savory taste.

It’s a must-eat item during your Chinese vacation. But if you’d rather stay home, ask if they have jellyfish jelly on the menu at your local Chinese restaurant. You might be surprised!

Jackfruit

Jackfruit is a large, heavy fruit native to India but can now be found throughout Brazil. Due to its shreddable flesh, it has become popular among vegans to replace the texture of pulled meat in their many recipes.

Jackfruit also often comes canned and it’s worth a try, even if you’re unsure about its strange consistency. Fruit as a meat replacement? Now that’s something you’ve got to try!

Black rice

Black rice is only found in Southeast Asia and the Northeastern parts of India. In North America, we’re used to brown rice or white rice — but black rice? It looks pretty weird to me!

However, black rice is incredibly popular in other regions and it offers a ton of health benefits. It gets its dark color from a high anthocyanin content, making it rich in amino acids, iron, zinc, and B vitamins. 

Lychee

Lychee is a strange-looking fruit that’s prickly on the outside with an odd, almost see-through flesh. This Japanese sweet treat can sometimes be found at frozen yogurt bars and infused in cocktails. It’s jelly-like and absolutely delicious. Give it a try the next time you see one.

Pulasan

If you love the sweetness of lychee, then pulasan is a fruit you must try. Pulasan is a small fruit that gets twisted open. In fact, its name means “to twist” in Malaysian

With its red, spiky skin, pulasan is sweeter than lychee and will satisfy your dessert craving, regardless of how weird it might look.

Escargots

You’ve likely heard of escargot. But is it too weird-looking for you to try? Originating in France, escargots are snails usually cooked in a white wine sauce and served with melted butter. 

Similar to oysters or clams, escargot is served in its shell and can be quite chewy. Still, most agree, they’re also totally delicious. 

Buddha’s Hand

Buddha’s hand is a Japanese citrus fruit, but it definitely looks weirder than your average lemon. 

Interestingly, Buddha’s hands don’t produce juice or have pulp. But they do give off a strong, citrusy aroma and are mostly used in perfumes. In food, Buddha’s hand is zested to give your dish a flavor boost. So, although it looks super strange, it’ll help your meals taste amazing.

Kimchi

Kimchi is a fermented Korean condiment that looks pretty weird, but tastes incredible. It combines sour, spicy, and umami notes by fermenting vegetables like cabbage and radishes with garlic, ginger, and chili.

If you’re not used to Korean food, you might find kimchi to be spicier and sourer than you’re used to, but it’s worth a try. It’s like Asian sauerkraut, if you will.

Mangosteen

Mangosteen (which is a rather weird name, too) looks like a mini pumpkin. But, it’s actually a fruit with funny-looking white flesh on the inside. 

However, there’s nothing weird about its sweet, delectable taste. As of now, mangosteen isn’t easily available outside of Malaysia. So, if you’re in Southeast Asia, make sure to try some while you can.

Kangaroo

Here’s a food that might look normal, but could still seem pretty weird once you realize what you’re eating. Down under, indigenous Australians have been eating kangaroo meat for centuries, and even today you’ll find kangaroo on many Aussie menus.

It’s extremely lean meat and some say hunting kangaroo is better for the Australian environment than cattle farming, for example. Prepared as a steak, burger, sausage, or jerky, kangaroo meat has a distinct, somewhat gamey taste. 

It’s definitely a weird food you should try when visiting Australia.

Durian

Finally, we end with durian, which not only looks weird with its prickly exterior, but also smells absolutely awful. That’s right, the odor emanating off this Malaysian fruit is so bad that these fruits have been banned from hotels, restaurants, and public transportation.

Still, many people love what’s inside its stinky exterior. Described as a creamy, custard-like flesh that tastes of almonds, eating durian while traveling in Southeast Asia is sure to be memorable.
Ready to take a food tour of the weirdest-looking meals you can find? Book a trip, store your luggage, and make your way through those exotic restaurants and street markets. A whole new world of ugly delicious food has just been opened up. Go explore it!

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