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cha chaan teng calbee crisps
Photograph: Courtesy Calbee

Quirky crisps and potato chip flavours in Hong Kong

Why have a chip on your shoulder when you can just eat it?

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Written by
Jenny Leung
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Step up your snack game and say goodbye to your boring cheese and onion-flavoured crisps. From cha chaan teng-inspired flavours to creations that will make you question which brilliant bozo came up with the idea, I've scoured the city high and low to find you some of the strangest and most creative potato chip flavours available and took on the brave task (you're welcome) of trying them all. Here are the results!

RECOMMENDED: Not impressed with the selection? How about these weirdly-flavoured cup noodles? Or, if you're just craving that one particular thing, check out these food specialty restaurants.

Sweet and salty
Photograph: Jenny Leung

Sweet and salty

  • 3 out of 5 stars

So, let's start off nice and easy – sweet and salty. To be honest, I'm not sure what I was expecting in the first place. Perhaps it was the pink sakura packaging that confused me, but the name itself should have been a clear enough indication that this tastes, well, sweet and salty with both flavours on one chip. It's nothing too exciting but it doesn't taste awful either, I just probably wouldn't dish out my own wallet to buy it again.

Green Sichuan peppercorn
Photograph: Courtesy Jack 'n Jill

Green Sichuan peppercorn

  • 4 out of 5 stars

If you can't handle spicy food very well, then you probably want to steer clear of this one. For the first few bites, there's a pleasant sweetness to it that will have you fooled, as the green Sichuan peppercorn will suddenly come out of nowhere and hit you in the throat. Having said that, there are a few more complex layers of spice and flavouring that we can't quite pinpoint, but together, they make these crisps highly addictive. The numbing heat lingers on your palate too, so eat at your own risk.

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Yuzushio beef
Photograph: Jenny Leung

Yuzushio beef

  • 4 out of 5 stars

To all yuzu lovers out there, this one's for you. You can smell the sweet aroma of yuzu as soon as you open the packet, and while the flavour of the beef is very much non-existent, the subtle hints of 'shio' (Japanese for salt) more than make up for it. All flavours are well balanced – so this one gets a big thumbs up from me!

TuFei chicken wings / mala pig's ears
Photograph: Courtesy TamJai SamGor Mixian/Tamjai Yunnan Mixian

TuFei chicken wings / mala pig's ears

  • 3 out of 5 stars

TamJai (譚仔雲南米線) and TamJai SamGor (譚仔三哥米線) have partnered up with Nissin for two special time-limited flavours – TuFei chicken wings, and mala pig's ears. Right off the bat, the chicken wing flavour was rather disappointing. It did not taste anything close to the actual dish and had an almost burnt taste to it. The mala pig's ear flavour, however, was pleasantly surprising. Everything was spot on – the spiciness, the slight acidity, the umami – and it even smelled like the real deal. Sorry SamGor, TamJai takes the win for this one.

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French beef in red wine
Photograph: Jenny Leung

French beef in red wine

  • 2 out of 5 stars

Beef and red wine – the perfect combination, right? Sure, but probably not when it comes to potato chips. The taste of beef is as expected – standard MSG meat flavour, but the supposed red wine flavour tastes more like stale Chinese medicine with a hint of what I can only guess is star anise. Basically, you're better off just buying a packet of beef-flavoured crisps and downing a glass of red wine with it – or what I sometimes like to call Friday night dinner. 

Cha chaan teng classics
Photograph: Courtesy Calbee

Cha chaan teng classics

  • 4 out of 5 stars

Cha chaan teng (CCT) classics and potato chips – why didn't anyone think of this earlier? This newly-released CCT series by Calbee features three flavours: Swiss wings, satay beef noodles, both of which come in paper-thin sliced potato style, and sweet and sour pork, in Grill-A-Corn style. To keep it simple, all three flavours were great and, in my opinion, tasted close to the real dishes. What makes them extra special, though, is the packaging, which has illustrations of iconic Hong Kong sceneries and 'Love Hong Kong' logos printed all over. All I'm waiting for now is to see what CCT classic they come up with next!

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Fermented bean curd pork knuckle
Photograph: Courtesy Jenny Leung

Fermented bean curd pork knuckle

  • 1 out of 5 stars

Why? Just why? If you're not a fan of intense flavours, then I urge you to stay away from this one. The taste of fermented bean curd and its rather pungent aroma is quite overpowering, and as for the pork knuckles – well, what pork knuckles? You can't taste anything besides fermented bean curd, so have a glass of water ready if you're brave enough to try this one.

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