If it’s your first time at an Asian market, here is a guide to seven snacks that you should try.
By Whitney Welbaum
College is a great time to get out of your comfort zone and add some new snacks to your dorm room stash. My favorite place to buy snacks is the Asia Food Market on Erie Boulevard where I’m able to find all of my essential childhood favorites. But if you don’t know what you’re looking for, the aisles at the market can be overwhelming.
Here are seven snacks you should buy if you’re a newbie to Asian food.
7. Shrimp Crackers
Shrimp Crackers may sound a little strange, but believe me, these chips are crunchy and satisfying. These are great even for those of you who aren’t seafood fans. Personally, I am not a big seafood person, but I don’t find the flavor to be overwhelmingly fishy. The chips themselves are not made from shrimp, the fish flavor comes from the seasoning. I would take shrimp chips over potato chips any day.
6. Want Want Rice Cracker
This sweet and salty snack always hits the spot when you can’t figure out what you’re craving. These traditional rice crackers are called “senbei” in Japan and are often paired with green tea and given as a visiting gift to house guests. Senbei come in all different shapes, sizes, and flavors, but my favorite type of senbei is the sweet version. This particular brand, Want Want, is Taiwanese. The satisfying crunch of the rice cracker coupled with the sweet glaze makes for a nice contrast. It’s a convenient snack to grab when you’re on the go.
5. White Rabbit Candy
An iconic candy from China that has an almost creamy taste. Its taffy-like texture is similar to a Laffy Taffy or a Now and Later. But the best part of these treats is you can pop the whole candy in your mouth — wrapper included. The wrapper is made out of melt-in-your-mouth rice paper which adds a great texture to this chewy candy. This snack is a favorite for many of my friends who have just recently begun to explore the Asian market with me. Definitely a must-try.
Calpico is my all-time favorite drink. I can down bottles of Calpico — I will literally never get sick of it. Calpico is a yogurt-based drink that has a really smooth taste. Calpico comes in a variety of flavors including original, mango, strawberry and lychee. And, if you’re 21 or over, Calpico makes a great mixer with Soju, a Korean liquor. I would recommend buying a small 16 fluid ounce bottle if it’s your first time trying it. But, after your first sip, I bet you’ll wish you had grabbed the 50 fluid ounce size.
Hi-Chews are fruity flavored candies. There is a wide variety of Hi-Chew flavors ranging from grape to strawberry, but my personal favorite is mango. Keep an eye out for new flavors like piña colada and cola. I would say that the texture is very similar to a Starburst.
2. Nissin Tonkotsu Flavor Instant Noodle
Once you try this ramen, you’ll never reach for Maruchan or Top Ramen again. The depth of flavor is something you won’t get in the instant ramens you find in typical American grocery stores. Tonkotsu is a pork-based broth that typically takes 10-12 hours to make. This tonkotsu ramen option that only takes minutes. This is great if you need to grab something quick for lunch, or if you get ramen cravings while studying at 2 a.m.
1. Japanese Waffle Ice cream
Japanese Waffle Ice Cream is possibly my favorite dessert ever created. I usually go for the matcha flavored ice cream, but they also offer vanilla and chocolate. This dessert is called “taiyaki” in Japan. Taiyaki is a waffle, usually in the shape of a fish, filled with creamy ice cream and red bean paste. Popular fillings include red bean, custard and ube (sweet potato). I was excited to find a frozen option because taiyaki is not widely available in the United States. This dessert always hits the spot when I’m craving something sweet.