Dong Tao Chicken, Food of Choice for Lunar New Year

    08 February 2024

    Dong Tao chicken has been a food of choice for generations in Vietnam for the Lunar New Year, or Tet.

    The rare bird is known for its strangely large feet. It is also known as a "dragon chicken." The chicken gets its name from the village of Dong Tao, about 30 kilometers southeast of Hanoi.

    Dong Tao chickens are believed to bring good luck and wealth to their owners. At one point, they were only bred to serve meat for the royal families and officials.

    Baby Dong Tao chickens, also known as Dragon Chicken, are seen at Dong Tao village, in Hung Yen province, Vietnam, on January 31, 2024. (REUTERS/Minh Nguyen)
    Baby Dong Tao chickens, also known as "Dragon Chicken," are seen at Dong Tao village, in Hung Yen province, Vietnam, on January 31, 2024. (REUTERS/Minh Nguyen)

    Today, demand for Dong Tao chicken in Vietnam has risen sharply. That demand comes from a growing number of wealthy people in one of Asia's fastest-growing economies.

    Le Trong Dung is a chicken farmer in the village of Dong Tao. He told Reuters that a fully-grown Dong Tao chicken at one year old sells for $200 and sometimes as much as $400.

    The demand for Dong Tao chicken is also fueled by its rich taste.

    Loc Duc Toan is a 25-year-old cook in Hanoi. Toan said a Dong Tao chicken has its best taste at the age of 13 to 15 months. "When steamed, the skin will be crispy with a fragrant aroma of its own and a sweeter meat compared to other normal chicken," Toan said.

    Nguyen Thi Hong Nhung is a chicken farmer, She said the most valuable parts of Dong Tao chickens are its legs.

    Their large legs make it difficult for them to hatch from their eggs. Sometimes, they can accidentally break their eggs.

    It takes about a year to raise a Dong Tao chicken, compared to three months for other kinds.

    The chickens are now also raised beyond the village of Dong Tao. That means more people may have the chance to buy a Dong Tao chicken. But Phan Van Hieu, a Dong Tao agriculture official, said chickens raised in the village and fed with its native rice and corn have the best taste.

    "Production hasn't met domestic demand yet," Hieu added. "I'm sure you won't find any Dong Tao chicken in any KFC restaurants in [the] foreseeable future."

    I'm Ashley Thompson.

    Hai Do adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on Reuters news report.


    Words in This Story

    fragrant - adj. having a pleasant and usually sweet smell

    aroma - n. an usually please smell

    domestic - adj. relating to your own country