Chipstar Chocolates

Chipstar Chocolates

Here’s another of those ‘only in Asia’ snacks which seem to defy logic. Maybe I am just too conservative in my tastes (although anyone who has been on a Julietours would probably dispute this…) but I find it very hard to enjoy snacks which combine sweet and savoury in the same mouthful.

But hey, I like Chipstar crisps, which are pretty much identical to Pringles and so dangerously addictive. And of course I cannot conceive of a world without chocolate. As I did not actively dislike some of the items I have previously tasted combining these 2 things, and I am unable to walk past bizarre new offerings like these when I spot them on a Japanese convenience store shelf, here they are…

What you get is exactly what you see in the picture on the packet – chocolate truffles coated in chocolate then rolled in crushed potato chips. Decidedly strange by Western standards, but not as ghastly as you might imagine. In fact, not that far removed from what the taste might be if you rolled these in crushed almonds or peanuts instead.

That said, these are not the nicest chocolate truffles underneath the chips, although no worse than you’d expect for the price. But having tried them once, I will be perfectly happy to leave them on the shelf next time.


Crazy Crisps

I admit, I cannot resist the temptation of some new and unusual flavour, however unlikely it may seem. Hence the taste test of these decidedly crazy crisps whilst daughters #1 and #2 were visiting.

Surprisingly, considering these came from either Thailand or China, they were far less challenging to our taste buds than some of my previous purchases have been.

I was most hopeful of the untranslateable packet, which seemed to promise the flavour of that amazing Thai snack where you parcel bits of onion, lime, garlic, peanut, chilli and dried shrimp into a leaf to eat as you are studying the menu. Sadly, those proved to be oddly sweet, and could have done with a lot more chilli if they were to resemble the real thing.

The scallop flavour was also a disappointment, with barely a sniff of actual scallop and unpleasantly buttery overtones.

The squid variety won universal approval, though – nicely spicy, just enough of a fishy flavour to make it tasty without being overpowering. We agreed we’d probably buy that one again.

As for the cucumber crisps, they were decidedly bizarre. Daughter #1 thought the cucumber taste was interesting, but felt they were too sweet, and might work better with sweet potato crisps. Daughter #2 found them “not unpleasant but a bit weird…” and suggested they might go well with a g+t as an aperitif snack. I really did not like them at all.

Still, you have to try these things!


Chocolate Covered Crisps

jaga-1 royce-4 royce

I’m really not sure what I think of this idea. I like crisps, I like chocolate, but together..?

But they seem to be very popular in Japan, where you can buy a range of different variations on the theme, from cheap snacks in little tubs from the convenience stores, to expensive boxes from upmarket brands, to actual takeout portions freshly prepared at stalls in trendy shopping districts.

At the bottom end of the scale are Jaga Choco chips in small pots with a peel-off lid. They could be worse, but the chocolate is very poor quality and there isn’t really very much of it so the taste is predominantly potato with just a hint of chocolate.

A more polished product comes from Royce, a Hokkaido based confectionary firm that has been operating since 1983 and now has branches in 18 countries outside Japan. They offer chocolate covered potato chips in regular, caramel, and cheese flavoured white chocolate variations, all of which seem to be best sellers. The tagline on these products reads: ‘by breaking down old customs and producing consistently original items, we are pursuing a new level in chocolate enjoyment’.

Well, Hokkaido is famous for both its potatoes and dairy products, so I guess it makes sense to try putting them together. In this case, the chocolate is top quality and thick enough to hold its own against the potato. It’s still a bit of an odd combination for a western palate, but these are not unpleasant.

The best place to buy them is at Sapporo’s New Chitose airport, where there is also a Royce Chocolate World mini factory and museum as well as ample opportunity to shop.

Back in Tokyo, in particular on teen haven Takeshita dori, you can satisfy your craving for chocolate chips at several stalls where the hot crisps come topped with molten chocolate sauce and ice cream  – but be prepared to queue!

Finally, also spotted in Japan (but left on the shelf…) not just crisps with a chocolate coating but shrimp flavoured potato sticks, from Calbee. This was simply a taste sensation too far!

choc-chip-2 royce-1 choc-prawn-1


Dragon Fruit Crisps

 

dragon fruit 1 dragon fruit 2 dragon fruit 3

Dragon fruit looks spectacular, with its bright pink body and green, ribbon-like, sprouting leaves. Cut it open, and the fruit inside is revealed to be white with black seeds, or a deep beetroot red. It is part of the cactus family, coming originally from Mexico, but grows well all over sub-tropical Asia where it is cheaply and easily available.

Sadly, it doesn’t really taste of anything much, which is presumably why it often comes with a sachet of sweet and sour dipping powder to liven it up a bit. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I rarely buy or eat it… however, I did give it one last chance when I spotted these dehydrated dragon fruit crisps in a Bangkok supermarket.

Let me report that dehydrated dragon fruit is no more exciting than the fresh variety, and the seeds gave these crisps a granulated texture which was a little off-putting. So all in all, a disappointing experience.


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