Lobster and Cheese! Melon! Lemon Tea! Chinese potato chips enter a mad world of flavors… but are they any good? I invited over a dozen wary friends, and put these crisps-of-amazement to the AsiaObscura taste test…
Oishi Melon Flavor Corn Curls
Baked, not fried! 14 minerals and vitamins! 0g Trans Fats! The box screams how healthy these chips are. The audience screamed, too. One taster actually vomited. Just a little. “God, that’s disgusting!” “It’s like a dry sponge from Lush Cosmetics!” Existing somewhere between perfume-flavored and watermelon bubble gum, these bizarre penne-shaped curls were unforgettably awful.
Ya!Tudou Roast Chicken and Pizza Flavor
Roast chicken and everything pizza sounds like a fantastic idea, and this was definitely one of the night’s winners. But it tasted nothing like chicken or pizza. It tasted like a large, warm bowl of ketchup. Light, and surprisingly refreshing, but ketchup. How can you resist that cheery chef, though?
Haoyouqu Korean Cabbage Flavor
It looks like kimchi! It smells like kimchi! And yet it tastes something like sweet potato soup doused in orange #5. “Maybe it’s pumpkin soup?” No spice, minimal flavor, but lots of fiery color. Overall, a pale imitation of the world’s finest dish, and a pale tribute to a great pair of nations.
Oishi First Class Snow Pea “Pea Snack” Flavor
The cutest chip of the night! Shaped like edamame, Pea Snack actually tastes just like mushy peas. “Peas cooked yesterday and eaten on the beach in Brighton,” said one nostalgic Londoner. Absolutely lovely.
Lay’s Cool & Refreshing Cucumber Flavor
Just opening the bag filled the room with the smell of fresh cucumber. Definitely cool, wonderfully refreshing, but also so very strange. “It’s like eating a facial,” one person chipped in, “but nice!” Surely the healthiest-tasting chips of the night, they’re even speckled with hints of green. Cucumber-plus!
Lay’s Crispy Long Rice Flavor
Ignore the promising hint of pig fat that hits you right off, and accept the yawn of corn that follows. “Yeah, that corn that’s been sitting around boiling all day,” said one. Unlike that rice-flavored ice cream from The Lick, there was no Uncle Ben wonder to this chip. Just old, waxed, and bland.
Lay’s Numb and Spicy Hot Pot Flavor
Don’t fall for Lay’s flawed promise, this chip is neither numb nor spicy. It’s a pretty decent stew of mixed-up meat flavors, almost Mexican flavors, but ain’t no 麻辣 at all. Take a handful of whole Sichuan peppers, a few hot red chilies, and chuck them in a hot dry skillet. When they’re reeeeal fragrant, throw them in the chip bag, shake it up, and then we’re talking!
Lay’s Intense & Stimulating Hot & Sour Fish Soup
Any bag of chips with a fish head poking out of the broth, and I’m sold. But this was no sweet bowl of awesomeness. It tasted like bait. Old sun-soaked bait. Nast.
Lay’s Finger-Licking Braised Pork Flavor
Finger-licking braised pork was Chairman Mao’s favorite dish, and I can’t imagine him putting up with this cardboard-tasting chip-tastrophe. But then again… when you think about it… cardboard is oft used in Chinese street food, to fill out the meat. So maybe this is a traditional recipe!
Lay’s Cool & Refreshing Lemon Tea Flavor
Like Lemon Pledge soap, this strange chip immediately floods your nasal passages with hints of urinal. Was it either cool, or refreshing? No. Just disgusting.
Lay’s Cheese Lobster Flavor
The package shows a scrumptious lobster, sitting atop a bed of green mush, drizzled in molten cheese. Yes! And yet…
“They’re like the taste of lobster and cheese created by an alien civilization relying entirely on written accounts of lobster and cheese,” said DK, perhaps drunk at this point. “Like a packet of synthetic cheese-flavored crisps stored in a fisherman’s unwashed sweater…”
“Sitting outside in a bucket for a couple of days,” laughed Zac.
I loved them. But I’m a Jew with a shellfish allergy, so what do I know anyway.
Afterwards, I felt a little sad that we’d razed our way through all of the neighborhood offerings in one night. But the next day, I flew to India. And this billboard is the first thing I saw.
Kudos to WooLand, Sof, Zac, DK, Nic, Tara, Jim, and Christy for indulging in strange chips. They said anything good above.