Kimchi chips

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Another week, another potato chip review. This time around with a Korean twist, kimchi chips. If the kimchi crackers I tried before were anything to go on, then these chips were going to be next to tasteless. Going in with low expectations, I opened the box and was pleasantly surprised that I could smell kimchi. There is just no denying that sour, slightly off, yet spicy fragrance. My expectation level just rose a few bars.

Low and behold, the taste was there too. Yes, I could detect a hint of spice, and I could definitely distinguish that fermented flavor. Neither of those tastes were very strong, but they were there and that’s what counts. At least this chip lives up to its name. I was going to leave some for tomorrow, but I ended up finishing the whole thing. Take that as a good sign.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7

Green tea & chocolate cookies

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I think this will mark my final thoughts on green tea, as I have tried a handful of different matcha desserts, and have written just as many blog entries about it. It was unusual at first bite, but it has steadily become normal, and I’m even starting to like it.

Recently I bought a green tea and chocolate cookie that turned out to be a sandwich of two matcha cookies with white chocolate in the middle. The cookies were super soft and crumbly with just a hint of the green tea, and the white chocolate gave it that added bit of sweetness. There was enough matcha powder used to let you taste the tea, but not too much so that it tastes grassy. This was by far the best green tea item I’ve yet tried.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 9  

Lemon cheesecake Oreo thins

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Besides different flavors of potato chips and pretzel sticks, we also have quite a few different Oreos here in China. One of the extra thin Oreos comes with a spread of lemon cheesecake filling. There was indeed a touch of creaminess that one associates with cheesecake, though that’s simply down to the filling being a cream. There was also a tartness that comes from the lemon. It did vaguely remind me of a lemon cheesecake, though it wasn’t exactly in your face.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7

Red bean wafer rolls

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Red bean desserts have never been my favorite items on the menu, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try it in wafer form. I figured it’s usually the texture of the beans that kind of grosses me out, and not so much the flavor. Well, it turns out I was wrong.

These crispy wafer rolls had none of the texture of beans. They were simply crunchy like any other wafer. All the best snacks are crunchy – think potato chips – and so I was perfectly fine with the texture. Still I didn’t really like these particular wafers. Usually red bean desserts are just sweet, you can’t really taste beans, but not these ones. You really tasted earthy, savory beans with only a hint of sugar. No more for me please.

Fear Factor – 3 / Taste Test – 5

Green tea Oreos

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After trying out several green tea dishes, I’ve started to grow accustomed to it. If the taste is not too strong, I can actually enjoy it. There was one green tea item that I’ve been meaning to try, and that’s the green tea Oreo. Oreo’s were my favorite cookies as a teenager, so I wanted to see how they would hold up with a green tea stuffing.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I like matcha when used in moderation. I also found that it works quite well with chocolate, be it white or dark. The green tea oreo gave me both these things. Because it wasn’t just green tea, but also that delicious chocolate cookie, the matcha was indeed not overpowering. The chocolate and tea were perfectly balanced. I guess I’ve been converted.

Fear Factor – 1 – Taste Test – 8

Durian cookies

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One of the great aspects of working as a teacher, especially in China, is that kids occasionally give you a present or a snack. At one point in my class a student said he was hungry, to which I said “me too.” One of the other students then offered us both a little snack. At first I was going to say no, because I always feel students should keep their money, but then I noticed it was a durian cookie, and my blog writing instincts kicked in.

One of my first blog entries was on durian, and to this day I still regard it as the most horrible thing I’ve ever eaten. I found it to resemble putrefied onions, though I firmly believe I could actually enjoy it if I tried a better variety as suggested by one of my followers. I can tell you that experience left me hesitant, cautious and suspicious of any durian item that followed.

The first thing I did was sniff the cookie to check for any bad smells. They weren’t there, so I braved up and took a nibble. That strong sweet yet rotten taste was also absent, and so I went ahead and took a whole bite. I could taste the flavor of durian, a little like kimchi, but it had lost its power as if diluted in water. And so I continued and polished off the whole thing. Durian 2 – Me 2. Waiting for the tie breaker.

Fear Factor – 8 – Taste Test – 6

Waxberries

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Waxberries are a Chinese berry type that’s also known as yangmei or bayberry. It’s shaped like an orb with lots of pointy bumps all over its dark red skin. I can’t help but make a comparison with a golf ball, if golf balls were red. I mostly see these berries dried or soaked in alcohol, but a few months in a year you can find them fresh.

I picked up a bunch at the supermarket and as always mixed them in my yogurt. I didn’t realize they had a big pit inside. I always thought berries didn’t have a big pit. Perhaps it’s a stone fruit after all. The taste reminded me of blackberries, a little sweet, a little sour and a touch of earthiness. Personally I enjoyed them more with a sprinkle of sugar.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7

Purple potato wafer rolls

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Dutch people are raised on potatoes. It’s our staple food. Coming to China has opened me up to an even higher intake of potato. There are sweet potatoes, purple potatoes and many other tubers such as taro and yams.

I found a box of purple potato wafer rolls at the supermarket and wasn’t quite sure if it would be savory or sweet. It turns out to be a sweet crispy roll with a thing later of chocolate on the inside for an added creaminess. I couldn’t make out any potato in here. Instead it was just a regular wafer that looked a little purple. It tasted nice, but it could have been anything.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 7

Beijing duck pizza

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One of the most famous dishes to come out of China is Beijing duck. It’s no surprise then that this iconic dish has served as inspiration for various other dishes. One of those is a Beijing duck pizza that was recently on sale at Pizza Hut here in Lanzhou. It’s topped with roasted duck, cucumber and hoisin sauce, just like the original.

Unfortunately I found the duck a bit limp and tasteless. It also misses the crispy skin that Beijing duck is so famous for. The other negative was that there wasn’t enough hoisin sauce on there to give it that tang and sweetness it needs. The parts with the sauce though tasted pretty good, and the cucumber gave the dish a nice crunch. All in all not bad, but I still prefer the original.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6

Wasabi corn chips

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I’ve written a lot about different potato chips, but there are some corn chips out there too. At an import store I ran across a bag of wasabi flavored corn chips that immediately caught my eye. Wasabi can be a great addition to a dish when handled correctly. It’s quite similar to horseradish, and also similarly strong.

These chips were incredibly strong. In that respect it hits the brief. It delivers in taste what it says on the packaging. Unfortunately I found it aggressively strong. There’s a difference in adding a punch to your sushi and accidentally overdoing it and setting your head on fire. The chips definitely fall in the latter category. I usually complain about the taste of chips wearing off too quickly, and now I found myself wishing it did just that.

Fear Factor – 4 / Taste Test – 4