I’m back with part 4 of the What to eat in Korea Series. Check out part 3 about Korean BBQ here if you missed it last week.
Back home, I’m an absolute snacker. I am a strong believer that chips are meant to be salty and savory. My favorite flavor is salty and the US of A has so many tasty, salty snacks to satisfy my unhealthy cravings. Doritos, tortilla chips and salsa, Flaming Hot Cheetos, salt and vinegar chips, Funyuns….writing this list alone makes me want to cry. I miss my precious snacks so much. Side note: I promise I’m not THAT unhealthy……….jk, maybe I am. At least in America. Fortunately or unfortunately, Korea doesn’t offer as many delightfully salty treats as the US does – good for my body, bad for my taste buds. This has led me to snacking a LOT less, but I have found a couple of things in average grocery and convenience stores that slightly satisfy my cravings. However, I’ve found a lot more things that have betrayed me.
Please imagine my excitement when I walked inside of a Korean convenience store and saw that they sold Doritos and Cheetos. I was on Cloud 9 (I’m very easy to please). But I beg of you, take it from me, it’s all a LIE.
If you’re expecting salty, stay away from these:
The packaging may look the same, but the flavors certainly are not. This particular one admits its sweetness as it’s Honey Chili flavored, but other Doritos flavors are much more deceiving. Mexican Taco flavored Doritos sounded promising, but are sweet. Nacho Cheese Doritos are also sweet. Anyways, don’t get your hopes up like I did.
Extremely deceiving packaging, I was convinced that these would taste like home. Take a peek at the flavor, though: 스모키 바베큐맛, ie. Smokey Barbecue. I wasn’t sure how BBQ flavored Cheetos would work but I gave them a go. 1/10, do not recommend. Just sweet and weird. All Korean Cheetos flavors are sweet and weird and make me sad.
I’d like to thank this brand of chips for being upfront from the get-go. These were so popular amongst Koreans that they sold out for weeks when they first came out. It’s interesting to me that many of my Korean peers and co-workers say they don’t like sweet stuff but like 85-90% of Korean snacks are sweet…I don’t get it.
As stated above, most chips/snacks you’ll find in Korea are sweet. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re in snack-food heaven. Key words such as chili, barbecue, taco, chicken, cheese, etc., tend to all mean sweet Honestly, just assume that all chips are sweet except for the ones that I’m mentioning below. Check out these Korean brands that have passed my flavor test.
Suitable for the average American palate:
I keep trying to make my fellow Western expat friends hip to these chips. The most similar thing to Lay’s, Poca Chips are my go-to when I’m looking for something salty. They come in Original, Onion, and Cheese (which resemble Sour Cream and Cheddar chips back home) flavors and shouldn’t disappoint. Sure, they don’t taste exactly like home, but they do the trick.
Anyone remember Bugles? The cone-shaped chips that you would put on your fingertips to look like a witch? These are Korean Bugles! Ggoggalkon would be the best way to Romanize them, I guess. There are two flavors, the one pictured above, which is a kind of nutty flavor, and 군옥수수맛 or grilled corn flavor, which comes in a brown bag and are my favorite.
The most nontraditional item on this list, these are Shrimp Chips or seh-oo-ggang/새우깡. But wait, don’t go anywhere, they’re good! They’re satisfyingly crunchy, salty, and have a nice flavor that does not taste like the sea. The smell may get you at first, but move past that and give them a try. They’re addicting, not sweet, and a true Korean snack that you can enjoy. FYI, they also have a spicy version.
Now I’m craving shrimp chips, great. By the way, I didn’t mean to sound extremely bitter about Korean snacks, because the sweet stuff like cookies, cakes, etc. are quite good! But now you know how I feel about Korean chips and whatnot.
Any Korean snacks that you enjoy that I missed out on? Or is there anything on my avoid list that you actually like?
Stay beautiful and happy snacking,