uniquely asian: the potato chip saga

A while back I had remarked about the weird flavors of potato chips on offer in Shanghai. Well, I thought I’d take things a step further. So here’s my review of Wasabi Shrimp and Spicy Green Peppercorn Fish. Ah Lay’s, I know you’re trying to cater to the very-lucrative Asian market, but … slow your roll.


First of all, I have to admit that I’ve never liked wasabi. The worst thing that could happen to me when eating sushi would be that the fish or roll would run into that glob of green nastiness. So in a way that potato chip flavor was successful, because the wasabi taste was definitely present – but I had to chuck the bag because I couldn’t get beyond three chips. I could taste a hint of the shrimp, but it was pretty much all wasabi to me. Spicy Green Peppercorn Fish, on the other hand, I finished. It was reminiscent of the dish – all pepper and not fishy – but not too spicy or numbing, so my palate could cope. It wasn’t particularly great and definitely won’t make my list of favorites or go-tos, but it was interesting in an entirely tolerable sort of way.

Verdict: Avoid Wasabi Shrimp (unless you happen to really like wasabi) but give Spicy Green Peppercorn Fish a try … it’s definitely Chinese-y.

every flavor known/unknown to man


Chinese people have some weird different tastes. Buying potato chips in China can be a minefield. There are some really odd flavors out there. Sure you can buy the imported versions that offer ‘normal’ flavors, but who’s going to pay that much just for junk food?

My recommendation? Stick with the original, a.k.a. American Classic. And at all costs avoid the ‘refreshing’ flavors like Cucumber. I know some expats who like ’em, but to me they’re just … wrong. Tomato flavor? Icks.¬†Lemon Tea flavor? Absolutely disgusting. Some things should not be potato chips. Especially healthy foods – their flavors don’t belong on heart-clogging goodness. Who wants to eat potato chips that taste vaguely like cucumbers? Apparently quite a few people. The mind boggles. The meat ones (Italian Red Meat, Barbecue, et cetera) are decent enough, but only in a pinch. I saw a Cheese Lobster flavor once, but I was too chicken to try it and haven’t seen it since. Sometimes I can find Sour Cream and Onion, but what I would kill for Cheddar and Sour Cream ….

Photo is from Wal-Mart, on the edge of Shanghai. Ah, craziness.

unchanged tastes

China is a huge country with a long history, a distinct culture, and a notable cuisine. Unfortunately, that cuisine ain’t always to my liking. Sure, I will eat the Chinese food and I’ll try all the weirdness, but at the end of the day, I will probably always prefer a hamburger. Against chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes, no amount of mooncakes or pan-fried dumplings could compete.

The other day I had a ham and cheese sandwich on ciabatta bread. Fantastic. Unfortunately, still lactose intolerant, so I felt sick for the rest of the day. But in my opinion, a few hours of feeling absolutely queasy were worth it. Last night, made spaghetti with meat sauce. Again, fantastic. Well, not fantastic because the pasta was slightly overcooked and the sauce came from a can (that same can from a few posts before), but still good. This evening, I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich. FANTASTIC. Granted, it was cheddar cheese instead of my usual colby jack and I didn’t use as much butter as I usually do because it’s so expensive, but wow … I’ve missed that. And now, due to my lack of overcoming lactose intolerance, I will probably be queasy for the rest of the night.

See the attached picture below. Those are potato chips that are lemon tea flavored. Does that sound good, disgusting, or simply interesting to you? I had seen commercials for ’em, so I was fairly intrigued. Bought ’em, tried ’em, and … I would say “tossed ’em” but I’m too cheap for that. They’re just weird, but I will brave through it and finish ’em. I don’t think one’s tastes can really be changed. I might become more accustomed to certain foods, but I’m still going to like what I like. And lemon tea-flavored potato chips will never make it on my list.