‘Singapore Flavour’ Potato Chips

‘Singapore Flavour’ Potato Chips

And why not? Browse the potato chip section of your local convenience store and you will find a whole range of unusual and often downright bizarre flavours. Salted egg flavour, anyone? Salmon wasabi? Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding??

Not being able to resist most of these temptations, even if I only try them the once, there was no way I was not going to sample these Singapore Laksa and Hainanese Chicken Rice potato chips.

They are actually the brainchild of local company F.EAST (this stands for Flavours of the East) who were inspired to create chips based on hawker stall favourites, and apparently have a bunch of other Asian favourites in the pipeline.

I was planning to blind taste these to see if I could tell the flavours apart, but the smell and colour were an instant giveaway – for the laksa version at least. These are reddish coloured and give off a strong aroma of coconut and spice. As for the chicken rice version, although there is a hint of ginger and sesame, unfortunately these paled in comparison.

That said, I enjoyed both of these and will probably buy them again, if only to amuse visitors.


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.


Transparent Tea

This has to be one of the more disconcerting drinks I have sampled. It looks like water and yet… it is actually sweet, milky tea.

Now if I actually ever drank my tea sweet and milky, I would probably have enjoyed this very much. But I don’t, so let’s just say I was delighted and amused by the look of it and intrigued to know how Suntory had managed to produce a liquid that looks and tastes like this.

Luckily, it doesn’t seem to be a trade secret. Apparently the steam from boiling water is passed through tea leaves and becomes infused with their flavour. The steam is then condensed back into water that tastes of tea but is still clear.

The milk is a different story, but if you separate out and remove the milk fats and proteins, what you have left is the lactose and minerals which are transparent but still taste of milk. Put them together with the tea scented water and there you have it – Premium Morning Tea, a snip at $2.50.


Calbee Chocolate Sticks

I do not know where to start describing these, except to say I hated them.

Calbee is a Japanese firm famous for crispy potato snacks, many varieties of which are sold in small pouches or tubs like this. I rather like the ‘normal’ chipsticks, which are salty and crunchy, speckled with bits of vegetable so you could almost imagine they are good for you.

These are another story, however, and from the artwork on the tub may well be a Valentine’s Day special for this year. Although I am not quite sure what I was expecting, it certainly wasn’t this – they have a strong chocolatey taste and smell, but still manage to be salty and potatoey at the same time.

It is a disconcerting combination, and for someone who does not like mixing sweet and savoury, not at all pleasant. But I have Asian friends who think nothing of alternating bites of cake and curry, so presumably they are the sort of customers that Calbee hope will be wolfing down these treats.

I shall just chalk them down to experience and never buy them again!


Pikachu Deco Latte

Coffee has been a decorative art form for quite a while now. It is pretty routine for your barista to hand over a latte skilfully topped with a heart, leaf or (if s/he’s an expert) bear or swan. Track down the right café and it is perfectly possible to have a 3D foam kitten nestling into your mocha, or your photo spray painted in edible ink onto the cream topping your frappuccino.

All these treats require a professional hand, or even an expensive piece of technology, so it is nice to see a cute and amusing alternative which you can easily create at home.

Fresh from the Mega Pokémon Centre in Tokyo, here are Pikachu Deco Latte toppers for hot drinks (although I don’t see why they wouldn’t work just as well with cold). They come in packets of five different designs, and there are four different packets to choose from, all featuring your favourite pocket monster. At Y540 a packet, these are incredibly cheap for the entertainment value.

Just open up one of the individually wrapped sachets inside and – using the special lift up tab – carefully position the design of your choice onto your coffee. The discs are made primarily of gelatine and will dissolve into your drink if you leave them long enough, but mine lasted perfectly well for as long as it took me to finish my coffee.

These make a great souvenir, or gift for the Pokémon Go fan in your life!

 


Arabic Chips

Category : Food

I do love a quick spin round the supermarket when I’m on my travels – for one thing, I always wonder if I’d like to live there, and seeing what the grocery shopping is like is a good gauge. For another, I love to discover (and taste) local variations on popular products.

So here, fresh from a short hop to the UAE, are 3 sorts of chips which took my eye.

Lays is obviously an international brand, American in origin and around since the 1930s, but it does come up with a fascinating range of local flavours. The 2 here are produced in Saudi Arabia for regional consumption, and do a great job of capturing a distinctive Arabic taste.

Both have labneh, or yoghurt, as their main flavouring, which is pretty similar to the sour cream flavour you find elsewhere. But one includes mint and the other the ‘zatar’ blend of herbs which turns up as a dip or sprinkles in many local dishes. I liked them both, especially the ‘Lebanese mix’, and was interested to see that both included what are described as ‘natural and nature identical’ flavourings on their ingredient lists.

The Chips Oman were exactly that, and actually were manufactured in Oman. Looking at the shape of the tub, I was expecting the contents to be something very like ‘Pringles’ , but in fact the illustration is pretty exact and these chips, whilst a similar texture, are short flat strips liberally dusted with chilli powder and paprika. Of the three, these were my favourite, and I wish I’d bought more.


Fairy Puff Ice Cream Toastie

The main draw here is the machine which makes this treat possible – a sort of toasted sandwich maker but with a domed lid. Somehow it manages to toast and seal 2 halves of a bread bun whilst NOT melting the ice cream that forms the filling.

Everything else is window dressing and here there was some serious ‘unicorn’ going on.

The bread was a riot of colourful swirls, the ice cream was bright blue, and the decoration was multi-coloured sprinkles.

In days gone by (and sometimes still today if you are lucky enough to find a traditional ‘ice cream uncle’) a scoop of ice cream in Singapore came folded inside a slice of pink and green coloured bread.

As a modern update, this rainbow ‘fairy puff’ manages perfectly both to hark back to the old ways and appeal to the inexplicable current trend for all things cute and fairy-tale. The S$8 price tag was a shocker, though.

And don’t ask me what it actually tasted like…


Sweetcorn Soda

Category : Food

Only in Asia, where it is perfectly normal for something Westerners see just as a vegetable to turn up as dessert.

I have tried sweetcorn flavoured ice cream, toyed with sweetcorn (and red beans) sprinkled over sundaes, but absolutely could not face drinking this sweetcorn soda, which is a new taste sensation on offer in Singapore.

Sorry…but there are limits!


Chocolate ‘Chip’ Ice Cream

Chocolate chip ice cream, but not as you know it!

The ‘chips’ are actually bits of crinkle cut potato crisp, mixed with the molten chocolate into which the soft serve cone is dipped.

Chocolate covered potato chips are increasingly common – a lot of Asian confectionary companies are now producing them in a variety of different of different forms and flavours – so I suppose this is a logical next step.

There are 2 versions here, so you can choose either milk chocolate on vanilla ice cream or white chocolate on frozen yoghurt. A serving costs just 18 baht, from KFC in Thailand.

The ice cream is pretty horrible, of course (what would you expect at that price?) and it had a disconcerting way of forcing itself out in shiny beads through the chocolate coating. The crispy bits in the chocolate are surprisingly palatable, however. Eating this was rather like eating one of those ice creams with bits of crushed nut in the chocolate coating, except these crunchy bits left a potato rather than an almond aftertaste. It’s obviously very popular, and honestly, not half as bad as I was expecting.


Nasi Lemak Sushi

I’ve featured nasi lemak before – it’s a favourite local dish, of Malay origin, made with coconut rice, fish, egg, cucumber and a spicy sauce.

Often it comes packaged in a banana leaf for lunch, although I have also seen it deconstructed and layered so it looks very much like a slice of lasagne. Either way, it is very tasty.

This, however, was a completely new take on the classic, nasi lemak served as sushi. The egg – slices of omelette rather than fried – and the cucumber were rolled up with the rice into a maki, with the crispy fish and the sambal sauce dabbed on top of each slice. It was delicious and here, unlike the banana leaf version, you could actually eat the (nori) wrapping.

At S$8 for a serving of 8 pieces, it is slightly more expensive than ‘real’ sushi, but for novelty value it was worth even cent.


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