Lemon and herb marinated grill-seared shrimp, garlic encrusted, buttery delicate soft-shell crab, caramelized lightly fried sizzling calamari... Mmm, sounds like top notch cuisine! Many restaurants in the U.S. offer these exquisite dishes at prices averaging $50 USD for an entrée for one. Most five-star restaurants also provide a chef’s tasting menu of their finest items in small portions of a variety of succulent meaty seafood for a minimum of $105 for one.
Fortunately, you can have the same deliciousness at the fringe of your taste buds for a fraction of that! Seriously, for just $2 USD you can have the finest seafood cuisine packed in a potato chip form! Still sounds delicious, right? Are you the adventurous type to try squid-flavored potato chips? How about crunchy shrimp-seasoned crackers? Many in East Asia wouldn’t even have to think about the answer, it’s a resounding yes! Although crab-flavored chips are also popular in some states in the U.S., when exploring the Asian food aisle, you’ll always find treasured snacks that are 100 times more daring and creative.
Many of us live on the sweet, safe side of life. We’d rather have our seafood live and fried. If that describes you, have no fear, Nongshim is here! Nongshim is a billion-dollar household name in Korea, gaining international attention for its ramyun line of over thirty unique flavors. Inspired by Korean dishes, the noodles have sparked the curiosity of people across the globe. Although they are best known for their Black Shin ramyun claiming stardom in YouTube spicy noodle challenges, try cooling down your taste buds with a bag of their delicious, melt-in-your-mouth, airy, banana lusciousness. In a world full of spicy-peppery shrimp crackers, be a sweet, fresh, opulent Banana Kick!
Although savory seafood-flavored snacks usually dominate the Korean snack scene, there is a world of undiscovered snacks on a sugar high that have yet to be devoured. One of the best is Nongshim’s Banana Kick. In 1978, the name “banana kick” was interestingly coined due to the snack’s shape being similar to the front ball kick in soccer (hence the adorable mascot), a favored sport among the nation of Korea. Banana Kicks, in short, are caramelized corn puffs that are crunchy yet fluffy with a soft,welcoming scent, and packed full of dainty banana flavor. As you take one bite, it will melt in your mouth like delectable cotton candy! Some have even likened it to the fresh softness of a snack for babies.
These tiny powerhouses of sweetness are so delicious, its addictiveness will sneak up on you when you find yourself scraping the bottom of the bag wondering where they all went! They come in other yummy specialty flavors like strawberry, chocolate, and green tea. If you have a sweet tooth for banana milk like Jungkook of BTS, Nongshim also has a nectarous milk version. Even chefs with expert level taste that are trained to critique hidden notes of flavor have fallen prey to banana kicks. Junghyun Park, executive chef of Atoboy (a restaurant that takes Korean flavors and adds a surprising French-inspired twist), says in an interview with The Strategist, “Out of all of those, my favorite has always been Banana Kick. The sweet aromas of sugared banana combined with the unique texture — crispy at first and softens as you eat. It has always been my go-to snack since childhood.”
The fear of the unknown can hold us back from experiencing some of the best moments in life, especially when it comes to food, and no one wants to miss out a delicious opportunity! Next time you go grocery shopping, take yourself on a culinary journey in the Asian food aisles, and peer into the world of colorful, bright packaging and hidden, delicious gems. Once you love a Korean snack there’s no going back.
After you put down your third bag of Banana Kicks, why not venture out to try more lip-smacking goodness? Try some of our personally-rated favorite snacks, you’ll be surprised at how good it tastes to be adventurous!
Written by Serena Jackson