The Royal Dragon Bird
The bizarre-looking breed, is called the Đông Tảo chicken or also known as dragon chicken and can be found in the Đông Tảo commune in Khoái Châu district, about 30km from Hà Nội in Việt Nam. And in the past Đông Tảo chicken was used as a delicacy offering to kings, and it has since become immensely popular during the Lunar New Year (Tết) as people sought them out for extravagant gifts and lavish banquet celebrations. In short, it’s a social status among the power elite in Hà Nội. This chicken is well-known for its awkward-looking, unusual massive bulky legs and is among the world’s most expensive poultry.
The vast majority of these birds are still being raised in Đông Tảo Village. Although the precise origins of the breed are unknown, it has existed for hundreds of years and is thought to have been bred for cockfighting due to its huge and robust legs. While many birds are sold for their high-value meat around the holidays, farmers frequently save the prized birds and enter them in beauty contests.
A pair of chickens can cost a staggering US$ 2000 as they are in very short supply as well as are difficult to breed. The birds’ bulbous legs are covered with reddish scales and can grow to be as thick as a person’s wrist. An adult male Đông Tảo rooster can weigh up to 6 kilograms. The hens have mostly white feathers, whereas the roosters have a variety of colours. Females can weigh up to 4.5 kilograms, with the leg weights of both males and females contributing to their massive size.
The birds, which favour food are crickets, are particularly sensitive to temperature changes and lay fewer eggs than regular chickens. Their large legs and feet also make hatching more challenging, necessitating greater attention from farmers in order to produce chicks. It takes eight months to one year for a newly hatched chick to grow into a marketable bird weighing three to five kilograms.
Chicken meat becomes firmer, crisper, and sweeter as they age. The flesh is a deep crimson colour, similar to that of beef, and unlike any chicken, we’ve ever seen. Many Vietnamese connoisseurs see the thick crispy skin and meaty feet as a delicacy. Demand for the unusual texture and flavour of Đông Tảo chicken has outstripped supply, resulting in astonishing high pricing.