asian snacks photo by jonathan gayman

9 addictive Asian snacks and where to find them in St. Louis

In the early ’90s, many Asian provisions were hard to come by, particularly in my hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah. I do recall a small Japanese market that I would visit with my mother on rare occasions, but its inventory was sparse and expensive. I took comfort in knowing that every year on my birthday, my grandfather, “Ojichan” (the Japanese term for grandfather), would send a large box of my favorite Japanese snacks all the way from Hokkaido, Japan. He continued this tradition well into my teen years, always including old favorites and new discoveries. Upon moving to St. Louis 16 years ago, I was pleasantly surprised at the array of Asian markets in my new hometown, like Global Foods Market in Kirkwood and “Asia row,” the series of markets along Olive Boulevard. Walking into an Asian market can be an intimidating experience, but snacks are an easy and fun way to dip your toes in the water of another culture’s cuisine. More importantly, if you are an inexperienced Asian snack eater, you don’t know what you’re missing. Here are a few of my favorites.

Calbee Shrimp Chips
This is an excellent alternative to chips, with lots of umami flavor and crunch. Its shrimp flavor is subtle – think shrimp tempura but in snack form. They were one of my childhood favorites and remain so now that I’m an adult.
$2. Global Foods Market

Meiji Kinoko No Yama
Kinoko means “mushroom” and “yama” means mountain. This is one of my eldest child’s favorites, and it was one of my favorites growing up. They are adorable little chocolate and cookie mushrooms, with the head of the mushroom made up of smooth chocolate and the base made of a crunchy cookie. Not too sweet, and they are perfect little bite-size portions. 
$4. United Provisions

meiji yan yan // photo by jonathan gayman

Meiji Takenoko No Sato
This snack’s name translates to “bamboo village.” They’re also made by Meiji, the same chocolate company as Kinoko no Yama, and there is age-old debate on which of the two is better. You will often find them shelved together. This snack is slightly different, with more cookie and less chocolate. The cookie is softer and more graham cracker-like.
$3.50. United Provisions

Sanko Seika Sweet and Savoury Salad Rice Crackers
These rice crackers have the perfect balance of salty and sweet with a lot of crunch. Whenever I buy a package of these rice crackers, they are gone the next day. Once you try them, I guarantee you’ll head back to the market for more.
$5. East Seoul Oriental Store

Lotte Choco Pie
My children and I have varying opinions about any given thing, but one thing we seem to agree on is the Choco Pie by Lotte. These chocolate marshmallow sandwiches are not too rich, not too dry, and have a nutty flavor that offsets the sweetness of the chocolate and marshmallow.
$3. Global Foods Market

White Rabbit Creamy Candy
A rich, milk-flavored candy with a smooth, chewy texture. The candy itself comes wrapped in an edible rice wrapper.
$2. Global Foods Market

Shirakiku Prepared Shredded Squid
This may be the least approachable snack on the list, but that shouldn’t stop you. Without being too fishy, this dried squid snack is surprisingly sweet with an excellent texture. You will often be able to choose between the standard and spicy flavors. I recommend both.
$3. Global Foods Market

Morinaga Hi-Chew
My family believes Hi-Chew is the pinnacle of chewy candy texture. It is almost as chewy as gum but with a lot of flavor. Once you think it won’t dissolve, it does. Hi-Chew comes in many different flavors – our favorite is strawberry.
$2. Global Foods Market

Meiji Yan Yan
Does anyone remember Dunk-A-Roos from the ’90s? You’ll be able to throw back to that era but with perfectly textured chocolate and crunchy cookies. Choose your own adventure with this snack, or rather, choose how much chocolate you want in each bite.
$1. United Provisions

East Seoul Oriental Store, 8619 Olive Blvd., St. Louis, 314.432.5590, Facebook: East Seoul Grocery
Global Foods Market, 421 N. Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood, 314.835.1112,
Olive Supermarket, 8041 Olive Blvd., University City, 314.997.5168,
United Provisions, 6241 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314.833.5699,

Suzie Craft is director of marketing and co-owner at Niche Food Group.

Tags : Places, Shops