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Product Review: Tako Chips & Ramen Crackers


Nongshim Tako Chips (Seoul, Korea)

There’s been an increasingly wide selection of imported asian snack chips now filling our local supermarkets and big boxes. Many of which use the likes of seafood and soy sauce as their focal flavoring component, in comparison to popular American snack chips that are typically focused more on cheese, barbecue, hot chiles and/or herb flavors.

Looking at the actual product of this here Nongshim brand Tako Chips, hailing out of Seoul, Korea, their fishy shape might remind you of Pepperidge Farms Goldfish snack crackers. Which while those are Cheddar Cheese flavored,  these here taste strikingly like, well, Tako (Octopus) that’s been seasoned with soy sauce and perhaps a little sugar. In an artificial way of course, yet “close” for what it’s worth.

It’s like they took the Shrimp Chip concept (a.k.a. krupuk) and boosted its seafood flavor profile up a few notches to make it taste more like octopus than shrimp. Turns out it’s made with a fish popular in Korea and most other asian countries called Yellow Corvina.

They’re pretty much like Japanese Senbei-meet-shrimp chip in a very Tako-flavored way. And they’re really ono! Addicting actually! Savory (meaty), kinda’ fishy (in a good way), while not being too salty nor sweet, along with a pleasantly airy-light ‘n crispy crunch. Good stuff. Recommended (3 SPAM Musubi), especially if you’re a fan of Senbei, as well as Shrimp chips.


GGE Soy Sauce and Original Ramen Ramen snack “crackers” (Taiwanese product)

Next up we have GGE Soy Sauce Ramen and Original Ramen Wheat Crackers, manufactured by Weh Li Food Industrial Co., Ltd. out of Changhua, Taiwan, distributed by Nishimoto Trading Company out of California.


GGE Soy Sauce and Original Ramen Ramen snack “crackers” (Taiwanese product)

I’m a huge fan of Discovery Science Channel’s TV series How It’s Made. That show cracks me up with the variety of products they introduce that will be showcased in each episode. The narrator will start the show with, “Today in How It’s Made: Decorative Soap Flowers, Rubber Gloves, Paper Clips, and Digital Cooking Timers”. LOL! Products – many of which are mundane – that have barely any correlation to each other.

On How Its Made, sometimes they’ll go slightly into the research of the product, such as the case with these here Ramen “Crackers”, gauging for instance what would be the ideal SHAPE of the cracker. Which would appeal more to you? The one on the left that looks sort of like a noodle/chip? Or the one on the right that looks simply like dried noodles?


GGE Soy Sauce and Original Ramen Ramen snack “crackers” (Taiwanese product)

If you didn’t tell me what these were, only saying they were “snack crackers”, I’d immediately go for the one on the left, only because it makes a more viable finger food. The broken dried noodle shaped “crackers” on the right obviously look more like, say a topping for Chinese Chicken Salad, not a snack “cracker”.

And that’s exactly what the Original Ramen Noodle “Crackers” on the right come across as: a topping for Oriental (Chinese) Chicken Salad. Albeit a quite delicious one at that! They’re really ono, sort of reminding me of Maebo’s One-Ton Chips in a different shape. Well, not quite THAT good (I LOVE Maebo’s One-Ton Chips), but close, especially considering the far cheaper price per ounce for the Ramen Crackers. Then again, it’s much more processed, which negates the cheap price, as always.

The Soy Sauce Ramen Noodle Crackers on the left are delicious as well, and would be equally welcome on a Oriental Chicken Salad (for me, sans the chicken). Its more savory soy-based flavor, plus the more tangible wide shape made them the pick of the two for me, as far being a snack chip, or “cracker”.

Overall, I give GGE’s Ramen “Crackers” 2 SPAM Musubi as snack “crackers”, and 3 SPAM Musubi as a topping as a potential substitute to crispy wonton strips for Oriental Chicken Salad.


Diner A demonstrates the “Waimea Bay Saimin Surf Snack”

Really, the reason why I posted this product review is, looking at the ramen-based snack “crackers”, I bet those of you who surfed and/or went to the beach a lot growing up in Hawaii are reminded by this product from those old school days eating raw packaged saimin before hitting the waves.

Specifically, taking a package of Top Ramen noodles (or Maruchan, or whatever brand you had), breaking it up UNCOOKED right in the package, then adding the powdered broth packet to the broken-up, semi-hard raw ramen noodles (we’d call it “saimin”), shaking it in the package until evenly “seasoned”, then whacking that as a beach snack. Remember doing that?


“Saimin Surf Snack” (uncooked ramen noodles and broth packet for seasoning)

Sounds pretty funky, yet that was our “small keed” (like around 8 to 12  years old, no older) beach bum days, desperado way to get some cheap, convenient ‘n quick calories and salt in our system for electrolytes and energy before “going in”. I myself did this on occasion only, as it wasn’t really my bag (pun intended). Yet many of my friends growing up when we were young boys really enjoyed eating uncooked “saimin” and dry broth for seasoning as surf-bound energy & replenishment snacks. Especially and ONLY at the beach. Classic.


“Bound” at Diamond Head Beach

6 thoughts on “Product Review: Tako Chips & Ramen Crackers

  • May 8, 2014 at 7:10 am
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    When I was in MaeMae School all kids brought ramin package to school and have it as lunch snack. I like spicy soup mix with mine.

    Reply
    • May 8, 2014 at 7:48 am
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      Amy,

      I don’t recall seeing any kids doing the packaged raw ramen thing at my school back in the day. Strictly at the beach. It was one of those “when you’re REALLY HUNGRY” things, that sun, salt water and surf will do to you. Total energy drainer. That’s why I nicknamed it “Saimin Surf Snack”.

      Reply
  • May 8, 2014 at 10:14 am
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    Hi Pomai, the GGE Snack in the seaweed flavor is my favorite. It is pressed into cubes so it’s easy to eat, and the flavor has a nice salty-sweet-furikake umami-ness that is better than the regular shoyu I think. spending time in Singapore when I was young, we had a snack called Mamee – which is just like taking regular ramen and seasoning it with the packet and eating it straight out from the bag – except that it was specially made for snacking just like this, and the noodles are not actually meant to be cooked. :)

    Reply
  • May 8, 2014 at 11:29 am
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    When I was young my mom told me that I would get worms if I ate the raw saimin. Not sure how that urban myth started but I’ve heard other people say their parents told them the same thing or some variation. They probably just didn’t want us eating all that sodium.

    Reply
    • May 9, 2014 at 8:43 am
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      Filipino parents used to tell the same thing. You get worms eating raw saimin.

      Reply
  • May 8, 2014 at 5:27 pm
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    @ Jill – Remember when they said Tofu caused brain aging? That REALLY impacted Hawaii’s Tofu’s manufacturers, causing up to 40% in annual lost revenue at the time. :-(

    @ Su-Lynn – Mahalo for sharing your knowledge on the GGE brand of products. That “Mamee” product sounds pretty much like the one featured here, where it’s designed to be consumed in what seems “raw”, yet it’s not. Mainly because it’s more airy, and not so dense in texture. All I know is Furikake makes just about anything taste good. ;-)

    PB?

    Reply

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