I am back to share the rest of my Daiso snack haul and taste test with you. If you missed Part 1 of this little experiment, click the link to read more about what Daiso is and see the sweet stuff that I picked up. Part 2 will focus on the savory snacks that Tim and I chose to try. To varying degrees, we both enjoyed pretty much everything we purchased from Daiso, sweet and savory alike, with one glaring exception. I’m going to start with our one big fail to get it out of the way.
So, I don’t know what I was expecting when I chose to try these Peeled Roasted Chestnuts. Tim and I both like nuts and I eat them in both roasted and raw form, often unsalted. I was pretty excited to try chestnuts because I had never had them before, but I imagined people roasted them over an open fire all the time at Christmas while Jack Frost nipped at their noses. Perhaps the fact that I had never actually seen anyone eat a chestnut in all this time should have given me pause. It didn’t, so I dove into this bag with enthusiasm. The chestnuts felt a bit rubbery between my fingers, which surprised me. But I like water chestnuts, so how bad could these be? I made the mistake of sticking my nose in the bag and taking a big whiff, expecting that slightly sweet nutty smell that other nuts have. Nope. They smelled like meat, almost like roasted turkey. I was really starting to doubt my life choices by this point, but I soldiered on and popped one into my mouth. I’m not sure that I can accurately describe how emotionally scarring the experience of eating a chestnut was for me other than to say that, even though I spit it out within seconds, the horror lingered for several days after as the memory would hit me out of nowhere. I’ve never had food give me flashbacks before. The chestnuts had a horrible, smushy texture like a cross between a meaty mushroom and beans. They tasted like fake meat with a hint of bean paste. It was disgusting. There is a reason why there hasn’t been a song mentioning chestnuts since 1945. Tim had a similar experience with them. He had to spit his out too and promptly threw the bag away with the look of divorce in his eyes for dragging him into this in the first place. I strongly recommend avoiding the chestnuts. I’ve heard that they get better if you heat them up and taste less like meat, but that isn’t strong enough to tempt me to try them again. I mean, the same can be said of Spam, but I’m not going to eat that either. Luckily, the rest of our snacks were much better.
I really wanted to give these snow pea crisps a try. I’ve seen similar pea snacks before, but have never tasted them. The ingredient list wasn’t too bad consisting of only peas, vegetable oil, rice, salt, calcium carbonate, and vitamin C. They are a slightly healthier option than a traditional chip with less fat and sodium. The peas have the texture of a Cheeto with a nice crunch. The flavor is very mild and they mean it when they say lightly salted. If you like crunchy rice snacks, then you might like these because they are a pretty straightforward rice snack with pea powder. I thought that they were okay but they have a “healthy snack” taste, if you know what I mean. Tim was not a fan, so we probably wouldn’t get them again, but I’m glad that I tried them.
Okay, I need to pause this haul right here for a little story time. (Yay, a story!) Many many moons ago, way back in 2004, I went to England to spend some time with one of my best friends. She was studying at Oxford. While shopping for groceries one day toward the beginning of my visit we discovered shrimp crisps, which neither of us had heard of before. Both of us are a little adventurous with food, so we decided to give them a try. We grabbed a bag of the crisps and a bottle of sweet chili sauce to dip them in, and went on our merry way. It turned out that the shrimp crisps were fantastic, especially with the sauce, and we devoured the bag the same day. We must have gone through at least six bags throughout my month long visit. We just couldn’t get enough of them. When I got back stateside I tried to find something similar, but I had no luck. I found other shrimp-type chips, but they never tasted the same. Eventually I gave up hope that I would ever be able to recreate my shrimp crisp experience from Oxford and stopped trying. That is until I saw how many varieties of shrimp-type chips Daiso had on their shelves. Tim wasn’t really interested, but I was determined and figured the time had come to try one last time. It’s the Battle of the Shrimp Chips 2017. Three snacks enter, but which one (if any) will come out victorious? Let’s find out.
First up we have these Potato Crackers with Shrimp. These were my least favorite of the three. The crackers have a chewy potato wafer texture, and I thought that they tasted more like Crab than shrimp. The flavor is very mild and gets overwhelmed by the sauce (the dipping sauce is an important part of this experiment). They aren’t bad, but my biggest complaint is that they have seaweed baked onto them and I don’t like seaweed. I can handle it with sushi, but I hate seaweed snacks. I don’t know why I didn’t realize that seaweed would be a component, but when I saw the picture on the package, I thought that it was some kind of herb. I thought that they were fancy. I should have put two and two together. So, while these crackers might be great for someone else, they are definitely not for me and I won’t get them again.
Our second entrant for the battle is Calbee Shrimp Chips, Original flavor. These are pretty good. They are twisty puffed wheat snacks, basically shrimp flavored Cheetos except that they are wheat and not corn. They are crunchy, salty, and great for easy mindless snacking. The flavor doesn’t get overwhelmed by the sauce, but the stick form is hard to dip. Shrimp Chips come in a ton of flavors, so it might be fun to try more varieties. They do not taste like the original shrimp crisps that I had in Oxford, but they are tasty and I’d get them again.
The final item that we picked up from Daiso were these Prawn Crackers. You guys, I found them! I actually found the flavor I’ve been missing for the last 13 years. Of the three, these crackers definitely had the best flavor. They have a more robust flavor, which may be the difference between prawn and shrimp. The chips are not chewy and have a good crunchy texture with just a hint of the potato flavor. They are not too salty, which I like. The crackers are a large size and stand up to dipping really well. The flavor holds up and does not get overwhelmed by the sauce. The only complaint I have is that I just wish that there were more in the bag. I am so excited, and I will definitely be going back to Daiso to pick up more of these Prawn Crackers. These are great.
That brings me to the end of my huge Daiso haul. I hope that you enjoyed it. The selection was just as overwhelming for savory picks as it was for sweet. Even though Tim and I got ten things in total for this haul, it didn’t scratch the surface of what Daiso has to offer. We are definitely going to have to go back and do some more exploring. If you have a Daiso nearby, I encourage you to do the same.
A couple of months ago I learned about Daiso, a 100 Yen store chock full of Japanese products from house-wear to makeup, toys and nick-nacks. It’s like a Japanese Dollar Store where most products are 100 yen ($1.50) unless otherwise marked. I had a great time perusing the shelves, but what I was most interested in was to discover some new snacks that I had never tried before. Daiso stocks a variety of both savory and sweet snacks, not just from Japan, but also China, Thailand, and a host of other countries. Tim and I scooped up quite the haul and got straight to taste testing. We got five sweet snacks and five savory, so I am going to break this taste test up into two parts. Today. let’s talk about the sweet stuff.
I really didn’t know where to start when it came to what snacks to pick. Daiso had so much to choose from, and it was a little overwhelming. I did my best to try to guess what the products actually were when the packaging didn’t have any English writing to help me. I ended up getting a decent variety, so let’s jump in.
First up is this assorted box of Caplico Sticks, or at least I think that’s what they are called. Caplico Sticks are mini ice cream cones with a whipped, creamy filling. I am a sucker for wafer cones, so I had to try them. The assorted box contains three each of the strawberry, chocolate and vanilla flavors. The cone is a normal ice cream cone flavor and texture. The filling is sort of like a cross between frosting and pudding. It’s whipped and a little spongy, but not loose or runny in any way. Tim says the filling reminds him of the kind of filling you find inside of sandwich wafers. Each cone, no matter the flavor has the chocolate filling at the very bottom. Funny story, Tim told a coworker of his about this haul. He is from China, and he laughingly told Tim that these were what his mother always gave him when he was sick as a child. Luckily, I don’t associate them with illness, so I liked the Caplico Sticks and would get them again.
The second item we tried was a Baum Roll. There is no English on this packaging, so this is one of the items that I had to guess at. I thought that they would be cream filled cakes, but I wasn’t exactly right about that. To me, the Baum Rolls taste like lemon shortbread dough. They have a very creamy texture and a buttery, mild lemon flavor, but I would have liked them much better if they had some filling. Tim enjoyed them a lot and thought they tasted like frosting. He would get them again, but I think that I would pass.
I was surprised by how many gummy snacks Daiso had to offer. Though there were cute novelty gummies aplenty (gummy hamburgers anyone?) I chose to go for a more grown-up looking version. These Blueberry Gummy candies are a soft gelatin with a mild flavor. They are not overly sweet, and they are not tart. They are a generically sweet gummy with a subtle blueberry flavor that is great for an adult. I liked these a lot and would definitely get them again. I actually want to go back and try more of the flavors.
I was super excited to try these Strawberry Milk Chocolate candies because by the picture I thought that they might be strawberry cordials, like the strawberry version of those Queen Anne cherries. Unfortunately for me, the inside is a strawberry jelly and not the soft cordial filling I had hoped it would be. It took me a minute to get over my disappointment, but once I went back to them I did end up liking them. The quality of the chocolate is only so-so, better than Nestlé but not as good as Dove or Lint. It’s about on par with Hershey or Mars. The flavor combination of the strawberry and chocolate is well balanced, and the strawberry jelly is really good. Overall, despite my initial disappointment, these were a win. I would get them again.
The final sweet item that I got at Daiso were these Hello Panda Cookies. I am actually a little mad at myself for not looking closer at the box before I bought them because these were made in the USA. Oh well, at least the other four items were all products of Japan. These cookies have adorable pictures of pandas in various states of activity. They are filled with chocolate and these bite sized cookies are great for snacking. Flavor-wise, frankly, they taste like Chips Ahoy to me, with a nice crunch. They are not bad, but they are not great either. I liked them, but I would probably choose to buy something more unique next time.
And that does it for the sweet portion of my Daiso haul. Stay tuned for part 2 where I talk about the savory snacks that I chose, as well as the Battle of the Shrimp Chips 2017. I hope you enjoyed this haul. Daiso was a fun store to explore. There were so many great finds of both the edible and non-edible varieties. If you have a Daiso in your area, I definitely think it is worth a visit.