Rum raisin pretzel sticks

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smartcapture

Every once and a while I try out a new flavour of pretzel sticks or bread sticks such as the famous Japanese Pocky. In China they have recently added a rum raisin variety, which used to be my favorite ice cream flavor as a kid. An alcoholic in the making, perhaps. These sticks were somewhat reminiscent of that ice cream I remember so well, but the taste was not very intense. It was nice, but is nice ever really good enough?

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6

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Salmon and wasabi chips

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Salmon and wasabi is a now classic combination, bur in potato chips it’s a pretty new concoction. The question is: “Does is work?”. The answer, I would say, is no, not really. There was just the feintest trace of fishiness to these chips, hardly enough to label them as salmon flavored. There was some wasabi, however, and not too much to make your head hurt, so at least they got that part right. If they had named these chips wasabi flavored ones, rather than salmon and wasabi, I would probably have given them a higher score, but as it stands I don’t think they quite hit the mark.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 5

Durian filled chocolate

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smartcapture

Durian has been my nemesis since day one on this blog. I tried it in Bali and found it taste as awful as it smells. It really does remind me of rotting onions, even though I have never tried those. Over the two years of writing my blog I have tried a variety of durian flavored products. There has been the odd occasion where I didn’t mind the durian so much, such as a durian tart served during high tea in Bangkok. This is not one of those occasions.

Dove in China has recently released a set of filled chocolates ranging from rose flavored ones to wasabi. Amongst them was also a durian filled white chocolate. Chocolate usually pairs well with just about everything. Durian, however, is the exception. It only took me one careful nibble to realise I was defeated by the king of fruits once again. Needless to say I did not enjoy it and did not finish the rest of the package. The mighty durian reigns triumphant once again.

Fear Factor – 6 / Taste Test – 0

Hot pot pretzel sticks

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Every once and a while I try out a new flavor of pretzel sticks. They are usually sweet with flavors such as chocolate, green tea and strawberry, but are often also savory. In the past I’ve tried shark fin soup flavored ones for instance. The flavor of the month this time was hot pot. Hot pot is China’s favorite dish consisting of a large bowl of spice soup that you then cook your raw ingredients in. The pretzel sticks were not nearly as spicy as I had imagined with only a trace of spice to tingle your taste buds. It could have been a great flavor, but unfortunately this one was just too mild in taste.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 5

Bitter melon

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There are lots of different fruits and vegetables around in China that would go very well on my blog, but none sounds as unappetizing as the so-called bitter melon. The bitter melon, in the same family as cucumbers, pumpkins and zucchini, comes originally from India, but is now found all over Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. It is shaped like a cucumber, but with lots of bumps all over the skin almost as if it has some kind of disease. Now that sounds promising.

I had never tried it, because it just doesn’t sound appealing, but not so long ago it appeared on the buffet line of the teacher’s cafeteria at my school and I had no reason not to try. It was served cold as a salad and cut into strips. It appears only the skin was used, so I’m not sure if these guys are hollow or not. I’ve eaten some terrible things such as whale bacon and of course durian, but I never expected a vegetable to rank among the worst things I have eaten. Now, I know better. I took one bite and a massive wave of bitterness washed over me – hence the name of course. I spat it right out and didn’t even bother giving it a second chance, good for you or not.

Fear Factor – 5 / Taste Test – 1

Yam yogurt

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I often have a bit of fruit with some yogurt and muesli for lunch, though I’ve never had it mixed with vegetables before. Which is why I was a bit surprised to see a blueberry and yam yogurt in the shops. When I say yam, I am referring to Chinese yams, which are root vegetables that are similar in taste and texture to a potato. I couldn’t see how that would work in yogurt, but I was willing to give it a try.

I think the yam might have been grated in raw, or finely diced, as I would pick up a texture of raw apple every once and a while. There was no discerning flavor to it though, which made the whole experience rather normal. If it hadn’t been for the odd crunchy bit I would never have known there was any yam in it at all.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 7

Lobster chips

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I always like finding new flavors of potato chips in the supermarket. It’s a little like Russian roulette. Sometimes you get something amazing, but usually it’s just a big disappointment. This time around I found what looks like lobster flavored chips. At least I think it is by the look of the picture.

I was prepared for a fishy seafood taste, something which I don’t enjoy all that much, but I soon found out there wasn’t any. Not a single shred of evidence to convince me that this was lobster flavor. The potato chips themselves were just fine, but still it was a huge disappointment. I can’t wait for the next one to arrive.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 5

Spicy duck neck

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People in Lanzhou sure seem to like duck. There is a little duck shop in almost every street selling spicy roasted duck. Now I’m not talking about a whole one like in Beijing, but about odd ends like tongues, heads and necks. Surprisingly nobody seems to care about the breasts. One of my student’s moms gave me a bag of spicy duck necks. It’s almost as if she’d read my blog.

I was quite apprehensive I must admit. Not because I don’t like duck, I do, but because I knew it was going to be all bones, and I don’t enjoy gnawing for meat. Does that make me a picky eater, or is it the opposite? Low and behold, there were a lot of bones. Something’s got to hold up old duckface after all. However, it was actually quite easy to get a bit of meat off of it, and plenty of it. The meat had a nice chewy texture, but was still soft and the spice gave it just the right amount of kick.

Fear Factor: 3 – Taste Test – 8

Chicken feet

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One of the first things I noticed in the supermarkets and restaurants in China was the astonishing amount of chicken feet for sale. At the time it grossed me out completely, but now seven years on I was ready to bite the bullet. The things I do for my blog.

I always knew I wasn’t going to like it, simply because I don’t enjoy eating meat on the bone and these chicken feet are pretty much all bone and no meat. That’s why I was happy to see a bowl of chicken feet coming round to my table on a conveyor belt hot pot restaurant. At least I could take just one instead of having to pay for an entire plate.

Once it was cooked I took hold and started to nibble. That soon stopped. There wasn’t really anything to nibble on. I was merely scraping of limp skin or cartilage of the bones with my teeth. Now I do enjoy some chicken skin when it’s crispy, but this flaccid thing just made me shudder.

Fear Factor – 7 / Taste Test – 1

Crispy broad bean snack

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I have written before about crispy peas that are a popular snack here in China, especially in bars. Well now, say hello to the crispy pea’s bigger brother the crisp broad bean. They are sold in a variety of flavors at the supermarket and today I went for a beefy one.

These crispy broad beans make for just as much of a great snack as their baby brothers. They’re crunchy to the core, which is ideal for munching, and they’re big enough to eat one by one making one bag stretch a bit longer. There isn’t really any taste of beans, in case you don’t like beans. Instead there is a lingering salty beefy flavor that one might mistake for a bouillon cube. I mean that in the nicest way.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 8