Having spent 14 years of my life living in Shanghai, China, I grew up with my childhood summers full of tasty treats unique to Asian culture. My memories smelled of the sweet yet refreshing whiffs of traditional Chinese desserts and tasted like a mixture of tropical fruits. I grew to love these flavors and came to miss them when I moved to the United States. Here are five Asian snacks from my childhood for you to try this summer so that you too can join me on my nostalgic journey.
- Shaved Ice
Shaved ice seems to be the lesser-known twin of ice cream, but it does not lose at all in its tastiness. There is a lot of room for creativity when it comes to flavors and toppings, and its texture and cold nature make it the perfect treat for summer. Brands such as Sul & Beans have brought Korean shaved ice into the mainstream in the United States, and its popularity is well-deserved.
This classic Japanese carbonated soft drink can be seen as the symbol of summertime in Japan. There are a variety of flavors including strawberry, peach, grape, melon, orange, and blueberry, but all of them have the same kind of refreshing taste that fits perfectly for summer.
- Salt-Flavored Popsicles
Now don’t look so startled and appalled— hear me out, because I’m not spouting blasphemy at all. These “salt-water popsicles” by Bright Dairy & Food may seem like an atrocious idea, but they sit at the core of every Shanghainese kid’s summer memories. They have this unique flavor that combines sweet with salty, and you won’t be able to forget it once you give it a try. It might be rare to find them at your local Chinese supermarket, but if you do, they’re definitely worth a shot.
- Boba Milk Tea
The popularity of boba milk tea has skyrocketed over the last few years, bringing further attention to Asian food culture. What better way to enjoy summer than to drink a sweet and refreshing fruit tea? Many stores have options such as strawberry jasmine tea and mango slush that make the perfect weapons against the relentless summer heat.
- Chinese Lay’s Chips
We see Lay’s chips in American supermarkets all the time, so what makes Chinese Lay’s chips any special? The answer lies in their variety of unique flavors. Here, we find a simple array of flavors like original, sour cream and onion, barbecue, and salt and vinegar, among some other variations. In China, there are innovative flavors such as tomato, cucumber, Italian meat sauce, baked oyster, spicy hot pot…the list goes on. Options such as tomato and cucumber may seem strange at first glance, but in reality, they offer the most refreshing summer flavors ever seen in chips, making them a must-buy.
It’s time that these Asian snacks of my childhood get their time in the limelight— that time is now.