Nget Kong hides his habit from his wife and children, sneaking off to dog meat restaurants at least once a week.
“I’m not addicted to it. I just get hungry for it,” said Nget Kong, 37, as he finished a quick bite Thursday at a dog meat restaurant.
“I would never tell my family. They are dog lovers. When our dog died, they buried her with a ceremony, like a human.”
A day before Cambodians ushered in the new year, dog meat vendors and buyers said they had no qualms about eating the mascot of the next 12 months.
And they dismissed warnings Thursday from Non Nget, director of Botum pagoda and a chief monk, who said eating dog meat was dangerous this year, despite a strong tradition in China to eat dog whenever the Year of the Dog arrives.
“Dogs are friends to people. They help people guard their homes and keep them company,” Non Nget said. “This Year of the Dog, people need to be careful.”
But those at the small dog meat restaurants along Street 374 in Chamkar Mon district’s Toul Svay Prey II commune said dog meat is only remarkable because it tastes good and costs little.
“It’s not bad luck. It’s an animal to eat, like pork,” Nget Kong said.
Tending shop next to a pair of roasted dog heads, the owner, who identified herself only as Thoeun, said she does landslide business selling dog curry, sour dog soup, fried dog and roast dog, and estimated that she sells about 10 kg a day.
At his restaurant next door, dog meat vendor Chhor Vann, 37, said he too does a good business, selling about 200 plates of dog a day.
He added that dog meat has brought him nothing but good fortune.
“So many people buy it, and it’s so cheap to prepare, it must be good luck,” he said.