Japanese Snack Food Review: Calbee Shrimp Flavored Chips

CalbeeShrimpFChips.jpg

Hello Japanese Snack Food enthusiasts! It’s good to be back from that unexpected hiatus, which can only mean that I have purchased some more snack foodage. Whooo. This is indeed the case and I’ve also lined up a theme for the August JSFR blogaversary. In honor of it being the ugliest, nastiest, hottest, stickiest July in recent memory and the fact that around here August is ten times worse, we’re going to an all liquid review for the muggy month of August. Yum!

So, to dust off the JSFR, here’s an odd duck of a snack. I mentioned that I had purchased some snack foodage a while back (when the hiatus would have been merely temporary) only to discover that none of it was Japanese. That’s a bummer because occasionally I do feel for you junkies and I didn’t want to re-start the review with something not from the old country. See, sometimes I really do look out for your interests. Thus, I had to initially disqualify today’s entry on account of it being an American snack

CalbeeAmerica.jpg

(see? Says so right there. Calbee America, Inc. Torrance CA. Torrance, in case you are wondering, is in the southern part of California near Long Beach, Lynwood and that other small town in the area – L.A. It’s not even remotely close to San Francisco so I can’t even “Chinatown” it in as an Asian thing. Also, if you are wondering about the whole “distributed by” thing and thinking this might just be an affiliate, the right side of the back has “Product of U.S.A.” boldly emblazoned on it. A-mercan)

CalbeeSFCJapHors.jpg

That did, however, explain the slightly weird “Wasabi – Japanese Horseradish” splashed on the package. It was just a little too clear and forthcoming to be nicely Engrish and besides, wouldn’t the Japanese know from Wasabi? Do we put things like “American Hot Pepper” on our cayenne chips? Japanese Horseradish seemed a little out of place for a Japanese snack food but if it’s an American Japanese snack food then everything’s good.

However! The company name was bothering me. When you have done enough of these reviews and shopped for a lot of snacks, some things tend to stick in your plork. For me, eventually I get to recognizing company names and Calbee was ringing a little familiar bell in my head. So I looked Calbee up on the net and lo! Japanese. And a fine purveyor of sackable snacks they are. Then I sifted through the Review and lo! Calbee has visited before in the form of Grill-a-corn . Mostly, however, I think I recognize the name from shopping and I’m pretty sure most of the Calbee things I’ve seen have been Japanese.

And thus why Shrimp Flavored Crackers are back in the review: The Asian snack invasion has garnered a foothold in Torrance CA! You go you little snack food company you!

So, chips. And shrimp. Shrimp chips. Yeeeeeeahhhh, that’s probably not going to be a mainstream American flavor for a while until something is done about the smell. My lovely packaged Shrimp Chips smell like processed fish food flakes. Mind you, there is also a sort of low end, deep fried fish joint smell to them behind the fish flake smell, but is that really a rallying point? A one star Long John Silver’s waft might not be the thing you want to advertise about your snack. It does beat “flaked fish food stench” by quite a lot but still. By the way, the mix of those two smells is quite strange. I’m sort of hungry and revolted at the same time.

Next up…chips. As a representative American, since I happen to be one and I’m feeling like representing, chips evoke a feeling of flatness. Something platter shaped and crispy can be a chip. Something fry shaped and crispy isn’t. Maybe a stick (stix works as well) or a doodle but not a chip. However, for any of you Brits out there, Shrimp Flavored Chips should look more familiar to you with respect to the whole chip thing. If you are going to start your snack invasion, you might want to get the culture right. I’m just sayin.

I do rather like the nubbly fry shape though. They’ve cut ridges into their shrimp crisp to make them look like crinkle cut fries. Heh!

As for taste, Shrimp Flavored Chips deliver nicely on the wasabi promise. My tongue is tingly! They have a very nice crunch to them; a nice light crispity crunch like a lighter, airier Utz cheese ball or maybe a Funyon. Good stuff there. The shrimp flavor is…not as pronounced as the smell might lead you to think but it is there and it is, unfortunately, a bit stale. It tastes more seaweed-y than shrimp-y which I’m going to have to deduct pea points for. If you are going to sell me shrimp, then do it. Otherwise call your crisp Nori flavored Chips and get more peas for staying in flavor. On the other hand, the ingredients actually list shrimp so maybe my olfactory call of a greasy spoon fish joint is more spot on than I first thought. If there are real shrimp in these crackers then they must have used almost expired but still sellable to the suckers that don’t know from shrimp kind of shrimp. They’d have been better off going with seaweed; it’s cheaper and tastes better.

I’m fonder of Calbee’s Shrimp Flavored Crackers than I thought I was going to be but I am disappointed in the old fish shrimp taste. And also, it’s not a chip if it’s round and fry shaped. Unless you are a Brit, in which case it is, but the company isn’t Calbee United Kingdom, it’s Calbee America.

Alright, enough chatter. Lets add some pea points and subtract some pea points (and look up my rating system since it’s been a while) and lo! I find Calbee Shrimp Flavored Chips to be a textbook example of a

2 Wasabi Pea rating out of a possible 5.

Comments are closed.