If you grew up near an Asian supermarket like 99 Ranch or Lion Market store in your childhood, then you likely grew up eating a wide variety of Asian snacks. If you were not fortunate enough to have this experience, then here’s your chance to make up for it by discovering some of the best Asian snacks and treats available.
If you don’t have a local Asian store nearby, you can also order these items online at 99 Ranch, Weee!, or Asian Food Grocer, and these days many American markets also carry the most popular varieties in their international aisles.
This is the quintessential biscuit and thick chocolate dip snack (just throw those Nutella biscuit packs away because they do not compare). There are so many memories I have with Yan Yan, whether it’s the original chocolate flavor, strawberry, or the double flavor variety where you get both chocolate AND vanilla (what?!). I would call this one of the holy grails of Asian snacks and is now widely available in even American grocery stores (although you may only find the chocolate variety).
Pocky is another classic snack that’s a biscuit dipped in a coating. The original dipped flavor is chocolate, but there are many other flavors available. They were an easy snack to bring along and pop open wherever you went, and might I add an easy pop into the family grocery cart during a trip to 99 Ranch. Some of my favorite flavors of Pocky besides chocolate are almond, extra thin variety, and matcha flavor.
3. White rabbit
White rabbit is a milky and chewy candy that has the same consistency as a tootsie roll, but also has an edible wrapper that stumped me to this day (is it really edible? How does it just dissolve like that?).
This is definitely a Filipino household staple. Skyflakes are a less salty version of saltines and come in these blue and red tin boxes that seem never-ending in quantity. I just have fond memories of my dad sitting at the dining table, one foot on the seat, and chomping on these crackers while we hung out.
Choco-pie is every Asian kid’s original s’more. Even before camping trips with my family, these chocolate-coated cakes with marshmallows in between were some of my favorite desserts. While the term and variety come from South Korea, it was actually influenced by American moon pies that have a similar makeup of chocolate-coated cakes with a filling in the center.
6. Hello panda
Is it just me or does a lot of Asian snacks revolve around chocolate and biscuit flavored bites of goodness? Hello Panda is another classic Asian snack made by Meiji that is now widely available in many American groceries. These are super cute panda-shaped biscuits with a tasty chocolate center (you can also find them in strawberry flavor too). Meiji is also the same brand that gave us chocorooms!
Hi-Chew are what they sound like, chewy and fruity flavored candy from Japan. They come in a soft rectangular shape with a white outer layer and colored fruity layer in the center. Hi-Chews were originally created because it was taboo to eat chewing gum in Japan, so they made a very soft, but chewy candy. Some of my favorite Hi-Chew flavors are mango, green apple, and cherry.
8. Haw flakes
Haw flakes are pink, flat, and circular shaped candies made from Chinese hawthorn fruit. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized the packaging for Haw flakes resembled Chinese firecrackers, which makes sense with its sweet and tangy flavor. As a kid growing up in a Catholic household, my cousins and I would routinely use Haw flakes to pretend we were at mass and going through communion.
9. Lychee jelly
Did anyone else realize eating lychee jellies as a kid was practice for jello shots as an adult? Maybe it’s just me, but these juicy jello cups with lychee bits of goodness swimming around were the perfect summer treat. They would typically come in these huge plastic jars and peeling a lychee jelly open was so satisfying.
10. Daifuku (mochi)
Mochi is always one of my favorite desserts, especially daifuku because it’s still got that super soft and simple outer layer of mochi with a flavorful center like red bean, chocolate, sesame seeds, or more. You can find daifuku at many different Asian grocery stores like Mitsuwa or 99 Ranch.
11. Rice crackers
Rice crackers are savory soy sauce flavored crackers made from rice flour that are typically in a circular or oval shape. My favorite brand is Bin Bin Rice Crackers and I’ve been known to eat one whole package in one sitting–yes they’re super addicting. I love the powdered seasoning coating the extra crispy cracker underneath.
12. Dried squid
Plain and simple dried squid is dried or dehydrated cuttlefish that’s been seasoned with spices and is delicious even though it has a very strong aroma. It’s basically like seafood jerky. These snacks were popularized in the 1970s by Hong Kongers and expanded to the rest of Asia and the western world. While I love snacking on these little squids, they are a bit pricey so savor every bite!
13. Shrimp chips
Not to be confused with shrimp chips, these shrimp snacks are a different variety of shrimp-flavored crackers. They come in puffed-up chips made from tapioca flour and sometimes come in different colors. You might have also seen these chips when you order Peking duck at a Chinese restaurant, too. The aroma of these can be a bit strong for the unprepared, but they taste great.
14. Egg rolls
No these aren’t really egg rolls, but more like buttery baked biscuits in a rolled-up shape. I love the texture of these egg roll cookies because they are light and when you bite into them they’re so delicate and crunchy. These typically come in a simple buttery flavor, but you can also find sesame seed egg rolls.
15. Shrimp snacks
Shrimp snacks or crackers (or prawn crackers) are shrimp flavored chips (like shrimp chips) but are made a little differently because of how they look. These often come in a straw shape and are equally as delicious and addictive. They are also made with starch and flavored with shrimp. I bet you can’t eat just one.
16. Clover chips
Clover chips are a Filipino favorite. These corn-based chips come in curled petal shapes (that somewhat resemble one cloverleaf if you squint hard enough) and are known for their super cheesy flavors. My favorite is cheddar cheese, but they also come in BBQ and ham & cheese flavors that are equally as delicious.
Jack and Jill’s Chippy snacks are an all-time Filipino childhood snack. Unlike clover chips, these corn-based chips come in extra crunchy rectangular shapes and have a thicker texture similar to Fritos. One of the most popular flavors from this is the barbecue flavor that comes in the red bags. Chippy also comes in chili & cheese and garlic & vinegar flavors too.
18. Sweet corn
Regent golden sweet corn is one of those Filipino snacks that are as fun to eat as they are delicious. These come in the shape of little puffballs (think puffy Cheetos, but balls) and are coated in an ultra-tasty sweet corn seasoning. If you love corn and snacking, this is for you!
19. Salted egg chips
While salted egg chips (especially Irvin’s brand salted egg chips) didn’t come into my life until adulthood, I am now making up for lost time and buying a ridiculous amount of these chips every time I find them at the grocery store. They come in various flavors, but the original salted egg chips are potato chips coated in a famous seasoning of salted egg powder, chili leaves, and chili pepper powder. Other notable flavors that are just as good are salted egg salmon skin (made from fried salmon skin, yum) and salted egg cassava chips.
20. Kasugai roasted green peas
Kasugai roasted green peas are Japanese fried peas coated in a sweet starch (and are the cousin to those spicy wasabi peas). They’ve got this great crunch because they’ve been fried and sweetness from the white coating.
21. Pork jerky
Sweet (or spicy) pork jerky is an Asian favorite of mine and it differs from western jerky in that it’s got a slightly softer texture and is not as dry. Many times you can buy pork jerky at a local store that specializes in dried meats, seasonings, fruits, and other herbs. I like to pick up pork jerky at Champion Gourmet locally.
22. Nagaraya cracker nuts
Nagaraya cracker nuts are peanuts encased in a flour-based outer coating so when you take a bite into a nut, you get double the crunch. They come in a myriad of flavors and some of my favorites are adobo, garlic, and barbecue.
23. Asian flavored chips (lays, etc.)
Asian flavored chips are one of my newer favorite experiences. These days big brands like Lay’s will import new and interesting flavors from Asia like hot pot, spicy lobster, cucumber, and many more. While some of these are hit or miss, it’s always fun to try out new flavors.
24. Danish butter cookies
Is it an Asian household without a Danish butter cookie tin laying around? You’d be lucky to find actual cookies inside once you open up the lid–the ones I’ve seen at relatives’ homes usually have sewing supplies inside. But if you’re lucky enough, you’ll get multiple types of butter cookies. They come in different shapes and sizes and are even sprinkled in sugar. I loved eating these as a kid.
25. Petit beurre
Petit beurre are actually cookies from France, but as a kid, I ate them a lot because they were also available at the Asian grocery store. The little ridges on the edge made these fun to nibble at and they’re very lightly flavored so you could eat many of them in a sitting.