Chicken Asshole Restaurant

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Tim Leonard sent in this photograph of a sign for a Korean restaurant:

I could scarcely believe my eyes when I beheld the English name against that grandly calligraphic Hangul script.

The sign was posted on reddit by user kevingrabb. Comments on reddit claim it’s an infelicitous but accurate translation of gizzard, which in Korean is ttongmun 똥문, literally, "shit home” — or so they say.

Although I am grateful to kevingrabb for calling this spectacular blooper to our attention, there's so much wrong with the explanations on reddit that I'm tempted to say they're full of it.  The remarks about chicken anatomy are totally confused — a gizzard is in no way the same thing as a butt hole or colon.  It’s the lower stomach of the beast.

First of all, ttongmun 똥문 (i.e., mun 문 門 as in hangmun 항문 肛門 [respectable / medical term for "anus"]) doesn't mean "shit home"; it means "shit door / gate".   From a quick Google search, it seems that ttongmun 똥문 is now a (new? and) popular word on the internet (not in dictionaries).  One guy even seems to have a blog with that name.  And another blog lists the word ttongmun 똥문 as an equivalent of bunmun 분문 糞門 ("dung gate", i.e., "anus").

While ttongmun 똥문 is a slang expression for anus, one which many Korean speakers whom I consulted had never heard of, it is not used for the dish, so far as I'm aware.  But the Korean on the sign doesn't read ttongmun 똥문 anyway.  Rather, it is ttongkko 똥꼬, which is a slang term for "shithole".  No one seems to be sure of the exact etymology of this word, and many of my Korean-speaking friends had never heard of ttongkko 똥꼬 (another vulgar colloquialism for "asshole" not listed in dictionaries), but apparently it's a synonym of the native and vulgar ttonggumeong 똥구멍 ("shithole"), a slang term for anus which is pronounced as if written ttongkkumeong 똥꾸멍 . So it could be a shortening of that plus a vowel change, but this is pure speculation.  That's if we're translating ttong 똥 as "shit", but it seems to be a lot milder in Korean than "shit" is in English and is acceptable to use when referring to feces, though the Sino-Korean daebyeon 대변 大便  is preferred in polite contexts.

In any event, ttongkko 똥꼬 ("shithole; poophole") is certainly not a popular name for restaurants in Korea!

The actual name for the dish is dakttongjip 닭똥집  ("chicken-shit-house").  Now, ttongjip 똥집  ("shit-house", or the "shit-home" that the reddit user was thinking of) is a rare slang term for either the large intestines or even the stomach. So it refers to a different part of the anatomy from ttongkko 똥꼬, ttonggumeong 똥구멍, or ttongmun 똥문.   And in the case of the dish, yes, it may actually refer to the gizzard, which is normally called moraejumeoni 모래주머니 ("sand pouch / pocket") in Korean.  That's a pretty far cry from ttongmun 똥문 "shit gate".

Ttongjip 똥집  is rare enough for its meaning to be obscure to many Korean speakers, who might think this is another word for anus.  Hence the confusion here, and many Koreans who enjoy chicken gizzards are probably not entirely aware of which part of the bird they are consuming. Whether whoever chose ttongkko 똥꼬 as the name of the restaurant knew about this isn't clear (though they may have done this as a kind of joke), but it is certainly not a case of unintentional mistranslation in English — the name in Korean is just as slangy and offensive.

Referring to animal feces as ttong 똥 is acceptable even in polite contexts.  It's when using ttong 똥 to refer to human excrement that you have to be slightly careful.

As explained in this article, "5 Korean Foods for Adventurous Eaters," apart from chicken gizzards, another popular dish made from an obscure lower part of the chicken's g-i tract is "chicken rectum".  Alas, it also goes by the name dakttongjip 닭똥집 ("chicken-shit-house").

One of my Korean graduate students told me that, when he was a college and university student back home, he often ate dakttongjip 닭똥집 at pojangmacha 포장마차 ("stalls; street vendors"), because it was cheap, nutritious (for the protein), and fairly tasty, especially when covered with lots of garlic and slathered with hot sauces.  He knows English well, and he declares that what he ate was chicken gizzards, not chicken rectums.

A number of Koreans have told me that dakttongjip 닭똥집 ("chicken-shit-house") goes well with soju. Judging from all of the terminological confusion over the gastrointestinal anatomy of the chicken, it's probably best that one consume quite a bit of shoju while eating these delicacies, so as not to be overly conscious of what parts they actually are made of.

At one point in the long gestation of this post, I had thought that I might help to clear things up by making reference to the hindmost portion of the fowl, which my Mom used to call the pope's nose, though others call it a parson's nose or sultan's nose.  We may refer to it more daintily as the uropygium.  Since I am not aware that it is favored in any cuisine, and I know that it was shunned by all the members of my family, I had better abandon that idea.

Having written so much about chicken gizzards in Korean cooking, it reminds me of the very special words for this obscure, humble part of the chicken in Chinese topolects.  I'll write about that after I get back from a quick jaunt to Italy, where I hope to find a delicious chicken gizzard dish during my brief stay, but I think that I'll pass on the chicken rectums.

[Thanks to Bill Hannas, Jongseong Park, Bob Ramsey, Daniel Sou, and Haewon Cho, who had a hard time discussing chicken parts because she is prone to ornithophobia]


  1. Dick Margulis said,

    January 3, 2015 @ 6:20 pm

    My mother called the hind end of a chicken (what your mom called the pope's nose) "the part that went over the fence the last."* She was always glad to eat it, along with the wings, feigning self-sacrifice so no one else at the table would deign to taste these parts. She finally copped to her stratagem when I was well into middle age.

    * Although this is reminiscent of "throw the cow over the fence some hay," no part of my mother's family ever lived in Pennsylvania. She was born in Springfield, Missouri, and she lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa from ages two to seven, when she moved to Manhattan.

  2. Ben Zimmer said,

    January 3, 2015 @ 7:03 pm

    The DARE survey of the late '60s included this question: "What names do you have for the rump of a cooked chicken?" Here are the most common responses:

    part that went over the fence last (292)
    tail (86)
    pope's nose (83)
    piece that went over the fence last (37)
    back (35)
    rump (15)
    tail end (15)
    parson's nose (13)
    part that goes over the fence last (13)
    preacher's nose (13)
    tail piece (12)
    bishop's nose (10)
    last piece over the fence (10)

    Here are regional distribution maps for "pope's nose," "parson's nose," and "preacher's nose":

    But I think my favorite is "north end of a chicken flying south":

  3. TheStrawMan said,

    January 3, 2015 @ 7:57 pm

    In Japan this part is called "ponjiri" or "bonjiri" and is a very popular food.
    My dictionary translates it as "pope's nose, parson's nose, meat from around the coccyx of a chicken"

  4. Jongseong Park said,

    January 3, 2015 @ 10:55 pm

    Is the English-language article "5 Korean Foods for Adventurous Eaters" your only source on "chicken rectum" being another popular snack in Korea, coincidentally with the same name 닭똥집 dakttongjip? This is the first time I've heard of "chicken rectum" being consumed in Korean, let alone being referred to by the same name as chicken gizzards. What is more, the photo that the article uses to illustrate "chicken rectum" looks suspiciously like that of the usual chicken gizzard dish.

    I searched for more information on 닭똥집 dakttongjip in Korean, but found nothing to indicate that the name referred to anything other than chicken gizzards. Unless you have another source, I would conclude that the author of that article is mistaken. Strangely, at one point the article concedes that "it's really just chicken gizzards", but it seems hopelessly confused as to what that actually means, because it then describes it as "the muscle that keeps the asshole closed". Um, Not quite.

    Following TheStrawMan's comment, I looked up 본지리 bonjiri and it is glossed as 닭엉덩이살 dageongdeongisal "chicken rump meat". This particular meat seems also to be referred to as (닭)엉치살 (dag)eongchisal or (닭)엉치육 (dag)eongchiyuk, 엉치 eongchi being a dialectal term for 엉덩이 eongdeongi "rump". Although I suspect that most Koreans have not heard about it, it seems to be available as yakitori street snacks. But nowhere is there a confusion between this and 닭똥집 dakttongjip.

  5. Brett said,

    January 4, 2015 @ 10:04 am

    A couple of years ago, my two brothers and I went to a very authentic Korean restaurant in New York City. All being adventurous eaters, we decided to order the barbecued colon for three. I had never before seen "colon" on a menu; I wish I'd remembered to get a picture of what the Korean word for the dish was.

  6. Ron said,

    January 4, 2015 @ 2:21 pm

    Hope this isn't too off topic, but I just cooked this last week when I ended up with a ton of gizzards and my original plan to make gizzard skewers wasn't going so well. Here's a good Korean gizzard recipe if this article made anyone hungry.

    It's worth noting that the author refers to the gizzard dish as 닭똥집.

    A further thought: maybe "Chicken Sphincter" would be a more accurate translation?

  7. Jongseong Park said,

    January 4, 2015 @ 2:39 pm

    @Brett, might have been something like 막창구이 makchang gui.

  8. michael farris said,

    January 4, 2015 @ 4:18 pm

    My first reaction was that "Chicken asshole restaurant" sounds either self-abasing about the propietors or unnecessarily hostile toward the clientele, probably the latter.

  9. julie lee said,

    January 4, 2015 @ 9:35 pm


    I am curious as to whether you found the dish of colon delicious. I think "big intestines" is seen in some Chinese menus. I've never dared taste it though I enjoy dishes of pig (or pork ) tripe, or beef tripe, which I understand is the stomache. Chinese dishes of tripe are delicious. Gizzards are too. I find it a shame that at Whole Foods markets, the gizzard is removed from a whole chicken. The liver and heart are there, but the gizzard has disappeared. Where has it gone?

  10. Brett said,

    January 4, 2015 @ 10:46 pm

    @julie lee: The pork colon was pretty good, although the flavor wasn't that distinctive. If you like tripe, you ought to enjoy the intestine as well. However, the dish was one of the most expensive on the menu, and in my opinion nothing except the novelty would really justify the price.

  11. Phil Bowler said,

    January 5, 2015 @ 12:12 am

    "We may refer to it more daintily as the uropygium. Since I am not aware that it is favored in any cuisine, and I know that it was shunned by all the members of my family, I had better abandon that idea.”
    Ask Filipinos about it. I had a Filipino friend who loved the “parson’s nose” (as I knew it from England). You could commonly buy them barbecued at night markets in Brunei, where we lived. It seemed to me to be mostly fat, but tasty enough.

  12. Victor Mair said,

    January 5, 2015 @ 12:25 am

    From a Chinese colleague:

    Chicken asshole (鸡屁股)is considered a delicacy item (美味)in traditional Chinese folk cuisine, not haute cuisine. It is very popular among chicken diners, just as fish head is among seafood diners. So it is nothing surprising that they open such a motif restaurant specializing in chicken asshole that caters to not-so-dainty diners.

  13. JQ said,

    January 5, 2015 @ 4:06 pm

    I'm curious about 똥 being inoffensive in (some) contexts in Korean. It has been translated as "shit" throughout this post. Is there a Korean word which more closely corresponds to "poo"?

  14. Victor Mair said,

    January 5, 2015 @ 6:57 pm

    The website mentioned by Ron has lots of pictures illustrating how the dish is made and what it looks like when finished.

  15. Alex said,

    January 5, 2015 @ 9:29 pm

    Just one curious thing I noticed. Near where I live, there are tire stores named "Casa de Gomas". According to Wiktionary, "gomas" means I many rubber/gum things, but tires are not listed. In English, similar things are called rubber, and we do have expressions like "burning rubber" and the horror movie Rubber, but I would not think tires would be on sale at the "House of Rubber" . I'm just interested in how rubber came to mean things made of rubber.

  16. KWillets said,

    January 5, 2015 @ 9:47 pm

    @JQ I would put 똥 somewhere closer to poo on the pejorative spectrum. Both of my kids learned 똥 in their toddler years, since it's the term for diaper deposits, and there are humorous children's books about it. But it can also be used for, eg, stray dogs ( 똥개 — "shit dog").

    This is, honestly, not even the first Korean foodstuff to use 똥 in the name. 똥돼지 is pork fed with human excrement, and 똥술 is or was a rice wine made with a child's excrement.

  17. julie lee said,

    January 5, 2015 @ 11:15 pm

    Thanks Brett.

  18. Jongseong Park said,

    January 6, 2015 @ 12:26 am

    The bonjiri from Japanese cuisine or the jipigu from Chinese cuisine mentioned above refer to what is variously described as the chicken's butt or tail, or the pope's/parson's nose. When I searched for 닭꽁지 dakkkongji "chicken tail", the only results seemed to be about how you should remove the part when you prepare chicken dishes like 삼계탕 samgyetang or 닭백숙 dakbaeksuk because it is too fatty.

    This is emphatically not what 닭똥집 dakttongjip is made from. It is made from chicken gizzards. It is just that when people who don't know where the dish comes from just look at the name, and not being familiar that the rare term 똥집 ttongjip can refer to a range of things in the digestive system, often mistakenly assume that it must be the anus.

    There is no second dish also called 닭똥집 dakttongjip that is made from the meat around the anus. I wish the blog post would be corrected so as to avoid propagating the misunderstanding.

  19. Rodger C said,

    January 6, 2015 @ 7:57 am

    I'm most interested in the fact that so many Americans no longer know what a gizzard is. Is this simply because most people don't dismantle their own chickens anymore, or also because chickens in today's America are often dismantled by people who don't speak English?

  20. Brett said,

    January 6, 2015 @ 10:46 am

    @Rodger C: It doesn't seem like ignorance of gizzards requires any explanation beyond the fact that most Americans don't encounter them any more. What is more interesting to me is why we don't encounter them. I remember that when I was a child in the 1980s, store-bought birds often (although not always) had the gizzard inside, along with the heart, neck, and possibly even other organs. Now I never see gizzards any more. I suspect this has nothing to do with the gizzard specifically, just with a general move away from organ/variety meats. Sometimes even the reliably muscular neck and heart are absent from birds I buy these days.

  21. michaelyus said,

    January 7, 2015 @ 11:02 am

    This is the first time I've heard of "rectum" and "anus" being applied to an avian species! Seeing as it's not just the end of the gastro-intestinal tract, but also of the urinary tract and the reproductive tract (for most birds anyway), the opening is usually called the "vent" in English, with the internal tract common to all these systems called the "cloaca".

    Also, as 똥 is commonly used in Korean translations of the Bible, the English "dung" would be a suitably simple, blunt equivalent without being offensive (although "dung" is not often heard from Anglophone children nowadays, at least not in inner-city London!).

  22. AG said,

    January 7, 2015 @ 11:59 am

    @alex Interesting question, both for its incredible randomness and self-explanatory absurdity. Most people would easily understand how an item entirely made of a particular substance might lend the substance's name to a store which sells such an item. Do you have a special need which precludes such understanding?

  23. Chris Barts said,

    January 8, 2015 @ 10:44 am

    Interesting bit about the bird bit. In my family, we refer to it as the "polkey", which I just now invented a spelling for. ("Polkie" might work too, or "polkee".) I'm interested in the fact that doesn't appear anywhere else, apparently.

  24. Joyce Melton said,

    January 9, 2015 @ 3:13 am

    The gizzard is where stones and grit swallowed by the bird do the job done by teeth in mammals, grinding the food into smaller particles for digestion. Dinosaurs also had gizzards and the gizzard stones found with fossils are called gastroliths. Crocodiles and alligators have gizzards, too.

    Undigested food in the stomach is passed to the gizzard for grinding then back to the stomach for more digestion.

    Chicken gizzard is very muscular and even tough and has a flavor not unlike heart or liver. In my family, it along with the heart, liver, and neck were used to make chicken stock for soups and dressings. In some southern-style cooking, chicken hearts, livers and gizzards are often breaded and fried. Collectively, these organ meats are called giblets.

    If you are going to eat gizzard, you need to clean it to get the sand and grit out and that takes some doing which is why, I suspect, that whole chickens bought in supermarkets no longer contain gizzards. Much easier to just throw them in the industrial stockpot to make flavoring for soups, and filter the grit out later.

  25. Michael Moszczynski said,

    January 12, 2015 @ 5:33 am

    There's a gate in Jerusalem called Dung Gate – can't help but wonder what that is in Korean? I'm sure there's some sort of euphemism…

  26. Victor Mair said,

    January 14, 2015 @ 10:46 pm

    From a former student:

    I had much fun reading the post about 똥꼬 or Shit gate. As an interesting side note, per Korean medical law, Korean clinics are – that is of course with the exception of optometry and dentistry, as they are considered specialty disciplines to begin with – forbidden to put the names of body parts on their titles, lest they attract patients under the false pretense of expertise on the said body parts. To bypass this marketing problem, Korean doctors use the terms that sound very much similar to the body parts they specialize in, but are vastly different in terms of meaning.

    For example, Let's posit for a moment that there is a Korean proctologist wanting to open a new private clinic. Since he is prohibited by law to use the term 항문肛門 (MR: hangmun) or anus for the title of his clinic, he has to come up with a substitute term that sounds just about the same as 항문, but different enough in meaning that it could stand against legal scrutiny. So what does he do?

    One very popular term used by Korean proctologists in such a situation is to use the term 학문 instead. 학문 in MR is hangmun, identical to the MR romanization of 항문. At the same time, 학문, or learning, elicits just enough elegance to spruce up the title of a proctology clinic while being plenty indicative of the clinic's specialty.

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