As many C+M readers know, I love Asian snacks and chips—some more than others—and some less. There’s even a Chinese Lays potato chip taste-off on my food tours of Flushing Chinatown. We walk down the third snack aisle—yes there are three—of the vast Jmart Chinese supermarket until we hit the Lay’s lineup.
“Does that logo look familiar?” I ask as everyone’s eyes go wide with wonder over flavors like numb & spicy hot pot, pickled fish, spicy crayfish, and beef noodle soup.
Usually we’ll pick three or four to try, some savory and/or spicy and some downright strange, like the one I like to call “mystery fruit.” My friend Daniele and her husband, Christian who run Arthur Avenue Food Tours, know a thing or two about Italian food, so when they joined a recent adventure, I insisted they try the “Italian Red Meat Flavor,” .
“It tastes like barbecue sauce,” Daniele exclaimed after a few bites. Everybody really liked the Sichuan-inspired hotpot crisps, which sung with the signature ma la flavors of Sichuan peppercorn and chili. (For the record Sichuan peppercorn is listed on the ingredients, along with sesame and artificial flavors.)
“It tastes like bubblegum,” said another guest who gave a thumbs up to the mystery fruit, but I think he was just goofing around for the camera.
I’ve always suspected that the mysterious fruit was some type of berry. When I sent her a picture of it my Chinese speaking IG pal heyheyyuchen excitedly told me that it is yangmei or Chinese bayberry and that the packaging reads sheng jin yangmei or “mouth watering Chinese bayberry.”
Truth be told, these pink speckled treats are no more mouthwatering than other potato chip, perhaps even less so. I think they taste like Sweet Tarts, which I rather enjoyed as kid, but not so much in a chip. The only potato chip stranger than this one that I’ve tasted is Lay’s Do Us Flavor Cappuccino.
Case of the Mondays answers the question ‘What if the Take 5 Bar were a pie’?
For a food writer who doesn’t specialize in sweets, I I’ve been on a bit of a sugar kick lately. I blame a certain highfalutin candy bar from Michael Mignano. My latest indulgence was a slice of heaven called Case of the Mondays from Daly Pie.
Meghan Daly’s shop is located in the faraway land of Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, but luckily for me it has had a popup in Long Island City for the past few months. I passed by a week or so ago to check out the goods, from the traditional like butter milk coconut and apple crisp to the newfangled like salty lime and the aforementioned Case of the Mondays, which consists of peanut butter custard sandwiched between a pretzel crust, a layer of Nutella and chocolate ganache. In lieu of whipped cream, there are potato chips. (more…)
Super Bowl 50 is almost upon us, and as usual, I’m only just learning which teams will face off Sunday evening. Such is my interest, or lack thereof, in football. Despite my apathy for team sports, I do hope all who watch the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers have a great time. Thus as a public service C+M presents a list of global snacks and goodies all of which are available in in Queens and will give your Super Bowl party much more flavor than guacamole and onion dip.
1. Mee krob (Thai)
The name of this popular Thai snack literally translates to crispy noodles. It’s no mere salty indulgence, though. Like so many of my other favorite Southeast Asian snacks, the tangle of noodles and fried bits of egg is salty, sweet, spicy, and sour. Tamarind and chili combined with a chewy sweetness make mee krob eat like a Thai Rice Krispy treat. Find it at the counter at Elmhurst’s Sugar Club. Sugar Club, 81-18 Broadway, Elmhurst, 718-865-9018
2. Fried jeffrox fish (Filipino)
Find this pescatarian answer to potato chips at Phil-Am Market, a paradise of Filipino groceries and snacks located in Woodside’s Little Manila. The translucent sheets of fried dried fish are available on Thursday through Sunday. The crunchy critters come with a sidecar of seasoned vinegar and make for excellent, if somewhat odiferous, snacking. Phil-Am Market,40-03 70th St, Woodside 718-899-1797(more…)
Up until last night I’d little or no idea which teams were competing in Super Bowl XLIX. I had a vague sense some outift from New England was involved. As C+M readers are no doubt aware football is far less important to me than food, especially the amazing array of crunchy, sweet, salty snacks from all over the world to be found in Queens. I like conventional junk food—chips, pretzels, and cheezy poofs—as much as the next glutton, but why stop there? So as a public service to sports fans everywhere I devote this edition of The Seven to Super Bowl snacks that showcase some of the best—and strangest junk food—Queens has to offer.
Crunchy Japanese crabs are a great drinking snack!
1. Kanikko Like many Japanesedrinking snackskanikko combines salty, fishy and sweet flavors along with crunchiness. The difference is that kanikko are actually teeny weeny crabs coated in sesame seeds. Find them at most Japanese grocery stores. Family Mart, 29-15, Broadway, Astoria, (718) 956-7925; Sakura Ya, 73-05 Austin St, Forest Hills, 718-268-7220
Festive tangles of Thai taro.
2. Thai taro crunch Not only are these tangles of fried taro sweet and crunchy, they’re fun to look at. Noi Sila owner of Thai Thai Grocery imports them from her homeland along with all sorts of other ingredients and goodies. While you’re there pick up some awesome Thai beef jerky to gnaw on while watching the game. Thai Thai Grocery, 76-13 Woodside Ave., Elmhurst, 917-769-6168 (more…)
Best logo stamped fast-food breakfast sandwich ever.
“Do you eat fast food?” the physician’s assistant asked me yesterday during my annual checkup. For a moment I wondered whether cumin lamb skewers consumed on Queens street corners qualified and decided they did not fit the fast-food bill.
“About two or three times a year,” I responded. Most of those times are on road trips and the idea of the food—be it a Big Mac, Whopper, or Taco Bell Burrito Supreme—always far exceeds the end product. It’s as if I’m trying to capture some mystical childhood fast food experience. I’m convinced that if Hardee’s, which I recall as having magnificent char-grilled flavor, still existed in New York City I would be a happy man. Call it chasing the fast food dragon. (more…)
Thai potato chips by way of Billyburg and Great Britain.
I first came across the British potato chip brand Walkers at Butcher Block, the Irish grocer in Woodside. Actually to be more precise Walkers makes crisps as they are called in the U.K., in such flavors as roast chicken and prawn cocktail. So when I spotted the stylish black bag of Walkers Sensations Thai Sweet Chilli Crisps at Bedford Cheese Shop I immediately forked over $1.75 and took the Southeast Asian flavored potato chips back to Queens for a Taste Drive. (more…)
I suspect Lays Do Us A Flavor campaign potato chips are made with unicorn meat. For more than a month I have being scouring convenience store shelves searching in vain for the three flavor finalists: Cheesy Garlic Bread, Chicken & Waffles, and Sriracha. A few weeks ago I spied the Chicken & Waffles flavor at a convenience store, but didn’t buy them, partly because I wasn’t that hungry, but mostly because chicken and waffle chips don’t sound all that appealing. I had just about given up any hope of trying these crowd-sourced crisps, when I saw the Sriracha flavor in a Flushing convenience store. I immediately snatched up three packs for $1.50.
The first thing I noticed when I tore into them was that they seemed crunchier than normal Lays chips. The next thing I noticed was the distinctive chili and garlic flavor of Sriracha. I still prefer the chips from Lays Thailand that I tried a while back. Nevertheless I’m casting my vote for these spicy chips. I haven’t tried the other two flavors and I doubt that have chance to before this crowd-sourced potato chip campaign ends on May 4. So here’s what I’d like to know, have you tried Lays Sriracha potato chips yet? Moreover how do you feel about this most American of Asian hot sauces? And how do you pronounce it? I have grown accustomed to pronouncing it shree-RATCH-AH. Tell me in the comments or hit me on the Twitter, @JoeDiStefano.
At $17 a box these chocolate-covered potato chips aren’t cheap.
A couple of weeks ago after a visit to The Marrow I found myself on a block of Bleecker St. that I like to think of as the West Village’s dessert district. I wandered into Royce’, a Japanese chocolatier, which for some reason uses a superfluous apostrophe. Inside I found something that I haven’t seen in some time, chocolate-covered potato chips or as the Royce’ copywriters put it, “Potatochip Chocolate.”
After sampling one—crunchy, slightly salty, and coated with milk chocolate—I gamely forked over $17 for a box. That’s right $17. Yes, they’re imported from Hokkaido “where the climate and the clean air are ideal for making confection,” but they’re not $17 good. I know this because a week later I still have most of the original box.
I suppose if you really must have $17 chocolate chips Royce’ will gladly take your money and give you a boutiquey little shopping bag to carry home your precious cargo. Here’s what you should do instead, sample a chip or two. Then go the newstand and buy 15 or so Take 5 bars with the $17 you would have spent at Royce’. The pretzel, peanut, caramel, peanut butter, chocolate bar is the tastiest and cheapest way I know to slake a thirst for sweet-salty snacks.
Lobster, squid, and crab—the sour cream and onion and BBQ of Thailand.
A while back I participated in Lay’s Do Us A Flavor, a social media campaign to create bold new flavors for the most American of snacks, the potato chip. My flavors were “Banging Bánh Mì,” and “Ghostface Killah,” the former modeled after a classic Vietnamese sandwich and the latter filled with fiery goodness of the bhut jolokia, or ghost pepper. Sadly these two creations did not make the cut. They were edged out by Cheesy Garlic Bread, Chicken & Waffles, and Sriracha.
I haven’t been able to find the Do Us A Flavor finalists out my way yet, but I found something even cooler at Thai Thai Grocery: a trio of spicy seafood-flavored chips from Lay’s Thailand. I handed over $7.50 and was soon in possession of the Hot Chili Squid, Lobster Hot Plate, and Hot and Spicy Crab flavors.