Seaweed chips

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I’ve tried dozens of different kinds of potato chips over the past few months, but luckily the guys at Lays keep on pumping out new flavors. This time around it’s that good old Asian staple, seaweed. Now, back in Holland I would only eat seaweed when it involved sushi, but here it’s often eaten on its own as a snack, or even as a chocolate bar and I’ve grown quite accustomed to the taste.

Usually my potato chips review go one of either two ways. Or I can’t taste the advertised flavor at all, or it’s only there in the first bite or so. These ones spun my review writing skills round and round, as the flavor only kicked in right at the end. It was nice to see flecks of seaweed scattered all over the chips, but I couldn’t really taste anything but plain chips until that last bite or so, when that familiar umami flavor popped up. Perhaps I should have shaken the bag before use.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 7

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Kung pao chicken chips

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I haven’t written much about potato chips lately, so I thought it was about time. The flavor of the months is “Kung Pao Chicken”. Kung pao chicken is one of the few Chinese dishes you can find in American Chinese restaurants that you can actually also have right here in the mother land. It is a Sichuan chicken dish made with lots of chilies and peanuts, and should be quite spicy.

The potato chips were, and this should come as no surprise, not spicy at all, nor did they taste like chicken. I found they were once again lacking in flavor, and were pretty much just a regular old potato chip. I have had a few really good potato chips over time though, so I’m quite determined to continue my quest.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test 5

Pesto chips

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Travelling is my other big passion besides food. Of course a combination of the two is the ultimate pleasure. I love going to local markets and trying out some street food, or going to a fancy restaurant for a more luxury experience, but sometimes I just can’t be bothered and simply walk into the nearest supermarket for a quick snack.

In Italy I picked up a bag of pesto flavored potato chips, something I never saw anywhere else. I always have a jar of pesto lying about in case I want to make a quick pasta. I guess it would taste nice on some fried potatoes too, but I didn’t get that from these chips. The chips themselves were really nice, made from real sliced potatoes, but there was no taste of pesto. I could see some specks of green scattered on the chips, but that was just a visual impulse as it didn’t translate to an added flavor.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 5

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

Fromage frais chips

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I think I’ve eaten my way through all the crazy flavors of potato chips in China, but there will always come a time to travel and therefore new opportunities for the potato chip aficionado. On a recent trip to Poland I bought a bag of fresh cheese flavored ones.

When I think of fromage frais or fresh cheese, I think of a creamy cheese that’s slightly acidic, perhaps with an additional touch of green herbs. Although I did find that these chips were different from their usual salted counterpart, I missed that tang and herbiness.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 5

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

Honey chips

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You’ve heard me say before that many chips don’t deliver on flavor. This is one of those cases. These potato chips are advertised as honey flavored, but there isn’t the faintest trace of honey in there. Granted, there is a slight level of sweetness that one doesn’t usually associate with potato chips, but that’s as far as it goes. What’s worse is that these chips have a terrible texture. You can definitely tell it’s not made of sliced fresh potatoes, but rather some powdery substance. Another dollar wasted.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 5

Lime chips

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I’ve tasted a lot of different kinds of potato chips over the past few months, and seldom do I really like one. These lime flavored chips have quickly become one of my favorites though. The saltiness of the chips combine perfectly with the sourness of the lime. It’s like having a shot of tequila, but without the alcohol.

Luckily the flavor doesn’t die instantly, so you can feast on limey goodness for a long while. At least until the bag is empty.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 9

Grilled squid chips

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I’m not the biggest sea food fan out there, but I do enjoy a nicely cooked piece of squid. I wasn’t overly excited about roast squid chips, but I wasn’t exactly afraid of it either. Turns out there was nothing to worry about at all.

There was not the slightest trace of fishiness to these chips. Instead there was a deep smoky barbecue flavor, with a hint of paprika. Now that’s something a lot of so-called barbecue flavored chips could only aspire to.

Fear Factor – 3 / Taste Test – 7

Hot pot chips

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Potato chip producer Lays came up with a few local flavors here in China. One of these is a hot pot flavored chip. Hot pot is the Chinese version of fondue where people cook meat, fish and vegetables in a big pot of soup. It’s typically very spicy and flavored with Sichuan peppercorns that have a numbing effect. No wonder these chips are labelled “spicy and numbing”.

I’m not usually a big fan of Sichuan pepper, as the numbing effect is just too overpowering for me. These potato chips, however, benefit from just the right amount of seasoning. The spiciness is there, and not just in the background. It hits you, and it hits good. It doesn’t numb your tongue though, and you can easily get through a whole bag without losing a drop of sweat. Where other potato chips have tried to impart a strong flavor, Lays numb and spicy had come out victorious.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 10

You can still choose my next dish here.