Dr Chung’s Food Snow Chocolate

Owing to a recent illness, I’ve been debating whether I’ve been eating too many sugary snacks. Or maybe it’s the opposite; that I’m not eating enough…

Anyway, this is my first drink review in what is hopefully a long line to come. A fairly small carton, like the fruit juices we normally have here in the U.K, Snow Chocolate (스노우 쇼콜라, literally ‘snow chocolat’), put out by the Dr Chung’s Food brand, fails to disappoint. Or should that be chocolat, as the French spell it? Let’s move on.

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If the pictures didn’t already give it away, Snow Chocolate is effectively chocolate milkshake. But it isn’t just chocolate milkshake – at least how people in the U.K might know it. Here, for those who aren’t familiar with our domestic brands, milkshakes of any flavour fall ostensibly into two categories: the milky kind (that is, the ‘thin-tasting’ ones), and the thicker, more gloopy varieties like Mars, Galaxy, etc – the latter being the drinkable versions of the chocolate bars.

Snow Chocolate seems to dodge those two distinctions quite well, and while boasting quite a few similarities to the typical fare, manages to rise above the rest quite unexpectedly. I’ve given a few other products on here this compliment before, but Snow Chocolate has a very genuine, much more relatable flavour than your average product. The chocolate manages to give the impression of chocolate, but doesn’t overpower the senses. The milky aspect on the other hand is still present, though it isn’t disappointingly watery, thin, and unsatisfying. If I had to name a closest comparison, it’d likely be the Galaxy chocolate milkshake, though not as off-putting with its gross richness.

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I’d say one advantage of the brand is that it’s very small in size, much like the small fruit juice boxes one takes on road trips, or to pack into lunchboxes. Smaller is better you say? In this case, absolutely. Whilst Snow Chocolate skirts the border between rich and weak in taste, it also works out perfectly in terms of portion size. Once you’ve slowly sipped all the contents, you feel just about content. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought a regular bottle of milkshake, only to feel that uncomfortable bloating and fullness after finishing it. You don’t get none of that here, folks.

As the saying goes, good things do indeed come in small packages!

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Ajumma Republic Roasted Seaweed Snack

I imagine most people, upon being confronted with the idea of eating seaweed (in any form), would recoil their heads in disgust and declaim any of us who do enjoy it are barking mad. Well, that’s nonsense; but it does seem to be a common attitude. Not to a Korean, of course – but to those of us who enjoy this delightful food on western shores.

From Ajumma Republic (an ajumma, or 아줌마 in the native tongue, is a middle-aged woman, loosely analogous to the French madame or German frau) comes this delicious roasted seaweed snack. My research tells me Koreans call this 김구이, or ‘gim gu-i’ (gim being seaweed) though that may very well be wrong. Like I said, I’m not an expert at this.

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For those who have never tried seaweed before, I’m going to do my best to not only provide a decent description of what I feel it is, how it tastes, etc; but also encourage people to give it a go. You won’t regret (really).

Once opening the pack, you’ll see a flimsy plastic tray with the seaweed contained within. I didn’t count how many sheets you get, though there are quite a lot. Enough to share, or enough to snack on for multiple sittings. Each sheet is very thin, and approximately the size of a credit card. There’s no special way to eat them. It’s simply a case of grabbing a sheet (or doubling up, even tripling up, as is very tasty!), and stuffing it into your mouth. I prefer eating them in one bite, as the seaweed has a tendency to flake off and get everywhere. Better to contain it and save yourself the mess.

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There’s a certain ‘melting’ quality once it comes into contact with your tongue, a quality not really comparable to any western food. It’s simultaneously flaky, but also very soft and manageable. It’s a ‘quiet’ food, put it that way. As you can imagine, there is a salty taste going on – it being a product of the sea after all. Salty as it may be, it isn’t extreme, and those shaking their heads right now shouldn’t be put off. However those who do like a little extra salt in their diet will definitely have their fancy tickled (that’s not a rude remark, honest).

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Like many Korean snacks, these are terribly moreish. Owing to their being quite insubstantial (they’re effectively nothing when compared to a cookie, or small cake), you’ll need quite a few of these to feel sated. It’s not uncommon for me to dispatch with the whole carton in one sitting, though I am a food killer, as my girlfriend says…

Bonus points? Once the entire carton is empty, you’ll find a little ‘clean pack’ underneath. For freshness and… stuff. But really, don’t eat it. It’s completely useless after you’re finished, though to western eyes it’s certainly a novelty to find in snack food.

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Go ahead, get some gim in your life.

Lotte Strawberry Pie

I dare say the Choco pie is one of the more accessible varieties of Korean snack – at least in the U.K. Though many flavours exist, and are subsequently exported all over the world, we only get a humble selection of this famed snack. That said, it’s still pretty decent.

Of the Choco Pie family, I’ve decided to start with the strawberry flavour.

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So what’s Choco Pie in Korean? You might think it essentially sounds English – and you’d be perfectly correct in thinking so. Choco pie, said in the Korean tongue, just sounds like a slightly funnily-spoken version of the English. It’s also rendered as such:

쵸코 (lit. ‘chyo-ko’, or choco), and 파이 (lit. pa-i, or pie). The Choco pie is one of the many Korean snacks produced by Orion Confectionary Co, Ltd. (주식회사 오리온). This one however, a simulacrum shall we say, is produced by Lotte Food Co Ltd. (롯데). It is one of many creations, never mind snacks, to be blessed with that glorious, and at times, comic, concept known as ‘Konglish’ – a strange amalgam of Korean and English. There’s plenty more where that came from.

Choco pies come in several different sizes. There are likely more varieties and packaging in Korea, though in England I’ve seen two different kinds – the six pack, and the larger twelve pack. Both are quite inexpensive, and both contain pies that come individually wrapped for freshness. Because nobody likes a stale pie, unless they’re the devil.

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Now, onto the pie.

Choco pies are soft. I mean really soft. Imagine those weird flying saucer ‘dissolving’ candies you get at theme parks, crossed over with your bog-standard, run-of-the-mill marshmallow, and you’ll arrive in the vicinity of what a Choco pie feels like when you’re eating it. It’s definitely a unique experience.

The strawberry flavour isn’t fantastic, I must admit. The flavour suffers from that sense of artificiality common to many packaged snacks of this kind. I mean, one must make concessions when they’re going away from fresh confections, but it can at times be a little vexing when you’re met with a sort of faux-flavour after expecting something much more exact. It’s still pretty clear however that it’s strawberry. I’d compare the after taste quite closely to that of the strawberry sauce you get from ice cream vans, albeit a little drier.

The outer ‘buns’ are as described above. The middle, or centre however is slightly softer. Not quite like fresh cream, so much so that it gets on your hands and can make things quite messy; but not as solid as, say, a harder filling from a pre-packaged cake. It’s in the middle somewhere. Needless to say, you can eat these when out and about without having to worry about slopping the filling all over yourself. For me at least, I can scoff the entire thing in two bites. But that’s just me…

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Choco pies are very sweet, though not to the point where your teeth feel like they’re melting. I’d be lying however if I said that they were a little rich – the strawberry flavour at least. But that’s just my opinion. I certainly couldn’t eat a second pie in one sitting, much less make my steadily through the entire box. I’m sure some can, but not this guy.

More Choco pies will be featured soon. Which one? I cannot say!

Calbee Baked Onion

For my first review on Snack World, I thought I’d go with something which most people are familiar with – at least in some form or other: onion rings. Before I get down to the review itself, I’ll do a little explaining for those completely unacquainted with Korean. So what exactly is구운 양파?

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구운 양파, or ‘gu-woon yang-pa’ (literally, ‘baked onion’), are baked onion rings. I was a little confused with this product, as Calbee (カルビ) is a Japanese snacks manufacturer – and yet the product is obviously in Korean, and marketed as such. I’ve simply decided to treat it as a Korean snack.

To get right into things, let me say that this the best bag of onion rings I’ve ever had, and that’s no exaggeration. In the U.K we have several different brands, though none of them compare. Not even close.

Oftentimes, and this isn’t exclusive to onion flavoured crisps, the taste smacks of the artificial. You can tell it’s supposed to be onion, though the delivery isn’t what you expect. As a result, the experience is nothing more than an ‘ehhhh, they’re alright’, rather than the response they ought to elicit, which is more like ‘I NEED MORE, NOW’.

The taste here is as genuine as eating the real deal. Flavoursome, strong (but not overpowering), and is characteristic enough of what it’s supposed to be that you really enjoy eating them.

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The texture, too, contributes to the experience. As any foodie will tell you, texture is an equally important facet of the eating experience, as well as flavour, temperature, and a myriad of other qualities. These onion rings don’t have the typically hard, ‘sharp’ texture that most baked crisps do; they’re softer, and produce less of that ear-splitting crunch when eating. It lessens that experience of ‘I can’t hear anything but my own crunching’ – which I’m sure everyone will agree is quite annoying, especially if you’re trying to watch a movie, or some television at the same time.

What about portion size? These are bigger than your average bag of Walkers, or McCoys, but smaller than what you might call a ‘family bag’ of say, Sensations, or Kettle Chips. I’m not a small guy, and these were certainly enough for me. You can be fat and eat them in one sitting, or split them into a few portions throughout the day. There aren’t so few that you feel as though you’ve been cheated (I’m looking at you, Walkers); but there aren’t so many that you feel obligated to finish the bag, having already gnashed through two-thirds of its contents. Then the bloat sets in. My god, the bloat. Thankfully, there isn’t any of that.

A solid addition to any daily lunch or mid-movie snack.

Why Snack World?

Hello all!

I started this blog for two chief reasons: one, I love to eat; and two, because I love eating Korean food – snacks especially.

After eating so many delicious snacks, I naturally wanted to recommend them to my friends. In every case they ended up loving them too. I figured why not do it a large scale? This way I can eat more (with a little impunity, at least), and hopefully convince a few others to expand their snacking horizon.

So why Snack World? Pretty simply, really. I wanted something that works in Korean as well as English. Given my Korean is terrible, I was stuck with a relatively narrow lexicon to choose from. I knew the word ‘snack’ (gan-shik, or 간식), and the word ‘world’ (seh-sang, or 세상) – thus, Snack World was born.

Does that mean I can speak Korean? A little. I’ve been studying on and off, whenever I’m not busy, for the past year or so. I can read okay (even if I don’t always know what I’m reading), and my pronunciation, by all accounts, is pretty good. Still, my understanding of grammar leaves much to be desired. Vocabulary, too.

That being said, my aim with this blog is to make frequent updates on any Korean snack food I can get my hands on. That will include anything from jellied sweets and hard candies, all the way to savoury snacks and bottled drinks. As the name entails, I will only be reviewing snacks, and no main dishes. I feel there are a number of better, more equipped people out there than myself to review the myriad of Korean dishes – and that’s how I’d prefer to keep it.

I expect the style will change in the coming months, years even; so any comments and suggestions you might have, don’t hesitate to send me some mail!

– An English snack lover