Category Archives: Snacks

It Came From H Mart: Tako Chips

Junichi the Hexapus says mmmm, Tako Chips

Jiro the Cannibal Hexapus?

There are many things to like about Octopus Flavored Tako Chips, made by our friends at Nongshim (“Taste NONGSHIM, Feel the Difference”) and available at H Mart.  Most of those things involve the adorable anthropomorphic octopus on the bag:

  • He is pink and cute;
  • He has an open-ended cylindrical nose like Q*Bert;
  • He has only six visible legs, making him a hexapus? He would not be the first;
  • He is wearing a mask and snorkel, which is supercute but raises a few questions, like (a) why does a hexapus need a snorkel, and (b) why does anyone need a snorkel underwater,* and (c) what does the hexapus think of octopus-shaped,** octopus-flavored snack foods?  Is he offended? Honored? Nonplussed? Is he a cannibal? Can’t tell from the bag, the snorkel and mask hide his expression and true intentions.

* bubbles are emerging from the snorkel, around the corner of the bag not pictured here, so we know we are down in the depths, rolling in the deep, with our friendly (?) pink hexapus

** the chips look more like Clyde, the orange ghost from Pac-Man, if he were wearing a girdle, slouching, and his mom accidentally bleached his sheet

not your mother's goldfish crackers

not your mother’s goldfish crackers

Tako chips do not appear to be made from actual octopus (or from tacos)*; they are wheat-based.  “Octopus flavor” is a listed ingredient, just behind whey powder and before paprika; I don’t know you get octopus flavor without extruding some octopus, but we get no details.  Yellow corvina, a fish, is also an ingredient.  I don’t think corvina tastes like octopus though.  So many questions.

* “tako” is the Japanese word for octopus and has nothing to do with the Mexican taco, although I bet somewhere around here someone is making delicious grilled octopus tacos, or should I say tako tacos.  Just to add to the confusion, there is an also-unrelated Peruvian dish called tacu tacu involving steak, rice, beans, plantain, and a fried egg, some fine examples of which can be obtained at multiple Wheaton Peruvian restaurants but none of which to my knowledge involve either tako or tacos.

What about the chips themselves?  It is my scientific duty to taste this stuff. There is a hint of octopus, or at least the sea (or the H Mart fish counter), in the nose, although if I weren’t already thinking about it I probably wouldn’t have been able to pinpoint it.  Mostly they just taste like bland, slightly salty wheat puffs. After an initial pleasing crunch they dissolve into nothing, like Pac-Man when he runs into Clyde. The tako chips might be a tolerable bar snack, paired with a crisp lager or pale ale.  I won’t be craving them.  But if I find out that Nongshim is giving away free plush pink snorkeling hexapi if you send them a dozen proofs-of-purchase, in that case, I would probably buy more bags.

This One’s For Carl

Does this blog thing still work? *poke* Hmmm.

My friend Carl sent me foil-packed Japanese snacky delicacies from Narita and the QBB Smoked Cheese (or should I say “Smoked” “Cheese”) has apparently reignited my blogging fires.  Or something.

Perfect for relaxation time

Perfect for relaxation time

The foil packet contained five little Vienna sausage-sized-and-shaped “smoked cheese” bites. Ingredients are written in hiragana/kanji-only so who knows what’s in there but I tried the cheeses anyway and they’re not bad.  They taste just like the smoked cheese I remember my parents serving at dinner parties when I was a kid.  A bit peppery.  The packet says “Rich taste of QBB’s smoked cheese is perfect for your relaxation time.” I do feel relaxed! – probably more than I should given what I am ingesting. “Rich” may be a little overboard. Texture is a little softer than a candy corn, but not much.  I will probably not eat all five (safety first) but I do not anticipate regretting eating between one and four.  Although the over/under is 1.5…

I also will not eat or microwave the “oxygen absorber” packet that I guess was helping keep the cheese “fresh” — it says “DO NOT EAT DO NOT MICROWAVE” and you don’t need to tell me stuff like that twice.  The allcaps were unnecessary.

Several other QBB “cheese” products are reviewed on the Japanese Snack Reviews blog.  I’ll see what H Mart’s QBB selection is next time I’m there (surely soon).  I wonder* if the soon-to-open Wheaton Safeway (!!!) will carry OBB products?

* I do not wonder

It Came from H Mart: Potato Flavored Snack

When potato chips are just too much potato, when you want that potato flavor without so much potato content…our Korean friends at Nong Shim rescue us with their Potato Flavored Snack, “fresh” from the snack food aisle at H Mart.

what could possibly go wrong?

Potato Flavored Snack

So many things I love about this product. No trans fat. Potato is the second ingredient, after wheat flour and just before wheat starch.  Given that, the disclaimer “Contains wheat, milk and soy” is unsurprising (milk due to whey powder and soy due to “non-fat soybean” I guess).  I also like the second disclaimer, “manufactured in a facility that processes egg and shrimp.” Also, ingredients are listed in Korean, English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese — but disclaimers are in English only.  Sucks to be egg-intolerant in Brazil or Western Europe!

Especially love the slightly anthropomorphic potato flavored snack guys on the package. Cuteness that must be eaten, and soon, since the expiry date is March 14, 2011 — seems an awfully short shelf life for this kind of product.  And they don’t make it easy: package is impossible to open without using a sharp object; there is a helpful “open here” arrow at the top right but you still need scissors or a knife to open there.

Thank goodness Mrs. Me allows me to have sharp objects. Once you get past the packaging, the Potato Flavored Snacks are like tiny, airy, corrugated french fries and after an intitial crunch practically melt on the tongue.  Not much flavor, potato or otherwise, though I can taste a little onion or garlic.  Maybe they should try transposing the potato and wheat flour percentages. Or maybe I should try normal potato chips. But what fun would that be?