As much as I love my Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (like, please make everything covered in Flamin’ Hot Cheeto dust — I want it) as my go-to snack, Asian snacks reign supreme. In fact, much of the joy derived from hauling my children back to Taiwan every summer was derived from all the snacks to be purchased and then crammed into my pie hole and washed down by a bevy of Asian beverages (Taiwan Beer for the win).
And because I’m a sharing sort (well, sharing online that is — good luck getting any if we’re in person), here are some of the best Asian snacks you need to try ASAP.
Are you team savory?
For those of us who prefer that pop of umami and maybe even a hint of spice, here are a few that might be up your alley.
1) Magi Planet Mala popcorn
Mala is a type of numbing spice commonly found in Sichuan cuisine and means “numbing and spicy” in Mandarin. It’s delicious in foods (especially hot pot) and with popcorn, it’s perfection. I tried the Magi Planet brand version and after I did, I begged a friend to ship me an entire BOX full of them. Be careful, though. It’s addictive!!
2) Jabsons Organic Roasted Chana Hing Jeera
Organic and vegetarian, Jabsons Organic Roasted Chana Hing Jeera are chickpeas covered in cumin and asafetida (also known as hing). This classic Indian snack hits the spot when you crave something savory, garlic-esque, crunchy, and with a hint of spice.
3) Turtle Chips
Reminiscent of the Bugles snacks, Korean Turtle Chips are shaped like (you guessed it) turtles and have four layers to bite through. They’re puffy and delicious and taste like sweet corn (a flavor Asians go wild for).
4) Kusagai Roasted Hot Green Peas
I remember eating these wasabi peas that my mom would bring back from Taiwan (or her trip to the Asian grocery store about an hour away). Kusagai Roasted Hot Green Peas are just the perfect mix of heat and crunch (there are a lot of crunchy things on this list) and it’s technically a vegetable so it’s good for you. I said what I said.
5) Irvin’s Salted Egg Potato Chips
This snack from Singapore is just so noms. I love salted duck eggs — and now to have entire categories of food smothered in its flavor like the Irvin’s Salted Egg Potato Chips? Yes, yes, and more yes. It’s creamy and salty and delivered on a potato chip and an absolute delight for your mouth.
Or are you a sugar fiend?
Alright, I suppose not everyone craves only savory snacks and there are folks with a sweet tooth. If you lean towards the sweet side, here are some Asian snacks that you’re bound to want all the time.
6) Hello Panda
Thank goodness Hello Panda cookies are now sold at Costco because otherwise, I would go broke supplying my children with these chocolate filled cookies. They come in other flavors but my kids unanimously agree the chocolate ones are the best and I try never to argue with my children (because they’re feral).
7) King ChocNut Peanut Milk Chocolate
King ChocNut Peanut Milk Chocolate is exactly as it sounds. It’s a candy made with roasted peanuts and milk chocolate and is an essential Filipino childhood snack. Be forewarned, it’s tasty and very crumbly so be prepared to put the whole thing in your mouth so as not to waste any.
8) Orion Choco Pie
These delicious snacks are a Korean staple and frankly, Orion Choco Pies are a better version of the moon pie. They’re crumbly. They’re chocolatey. They’re the best and so much fun to say.
9) Kasugai Gummy Candies
There are so many delicious fruity flavors (lychee, peach, grape, and apple to name a few) these Japanese gummies come in that one cannot just choose a favorite Kasugai gummy candy. That would be like choosing a favorite child. Okay, you’ve forced me to do it — the best flavor is peach. Fight me!
10) Parle-G Original Biscuits
Perfect for dipping in tea, Parle-G Original Biscuits don’t get soggy and are only slightly sweet so you don’t feel as if you’re indulging in something bad for you. They’re allegedly great for digestion and can be just the thing to eat before you have a proper meal.
11) Japanese KitKat bars
Why KitKats? I mean, after all, doesn’t the U.S. have KitKat bars? (And yes, they do and they are delicious.) But let’s be real. The Japanese KitKats have more than 50 flavors like matcha, strawberry, sakura, cheesecake, apple — even sake!
Why choose? Let’s be #TEAMBOTH.
I mean, you’re totally right. Let’s no longer ascribe to binary think. Let us embrace the “and” and not the “or.” Here are some notable sweet and savory Asian snacks to try!
12) Golden Sweet Corn
Golden Sweet Corn is a nostalgia-inducing Filipino snack that is basically a bunch of crunchy balls covered in creamy sweetcorn seasoning. They’re golden yellow, satisfying, and perfectly balanced between salty and sweet.
13) Rice crackers
I can go through entire bags of these individually packed rice crackers — regardless of which brand or flavor. They’re salty and sweet and I think my favorites are the frosted ones, but honestly, I don’t care. They’re so satisfying and just smothered in flavor and you know, it’s rice crackers. It’s healthy, right? (No.) Drink lots of water because if you finish the entire family pack, you’re going to be thirsty.
14) Paldo Crab Chips
Do you like shrimp chips? Well then, you’ll likely love these Paldo Crab Chips. While a bit sweeter than the iconic shrimp chips and taste like crab, you’ll love these crunchy chips and won’t be able to stop at just one. Buy the multi-packs. You’ll thank us.
I’m absolutely positive I missed out on countless favorite Asian snacks. After all, Asia spans over 48 countries and I’m not even counting the Pacific Islands. Consider this article as a starting place to explore new snacks and add to your flavor palate. Happy snacking!