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Thinking Outside the Flavour Box returns with the thrilling conclusion of Gill and the Brothers Nitro sampling the bizarre eats available at the T&T Supermarket! When we last saw our heroes, they had just finished consuming a jelly-filled soft drink, and were gearing up to try a bag of garlic-flavoured crispy chicken skin chips – a snack that Gill has been eagerly anticipating. But will the chicken skin chips live up to their potential? Read on to find out!
I was pretty excited about trying these chicken skin chips after spotting a similar product from a different brand way back when I made my trip to the Divisoria ethnic food store. The anticipation was killing me as we opened the bag and I pulled out the first lumpy piece of poultry.
Vince: I ate one of these whole chips, and that’s probably the only one I will ever eat. They’re not terrible, they don’t make me sick to my stomach or anything, but they’re just not very good. They’re not even crispy – the grease just makes them moist and chewy, but not in a good way.
Chicken: These are the most upsetting things we’ve eaten so far because they showed the most potential, but they just suck.
Schnapps: I agree. Extremely disappointing, it just tastes like chicken fat.
Gill: Tastes like dried, day-old KFC chicken skin. Way too greasy, not very flavourful, bland, you can’t even taste the garlic.
Chicken: Chicken skin goes best with salt. This stuff isn’t salty at all.
It was unfortunate, to say the least. We decided to move on to something that at least showed promise in the flavour department: tamarind confit treats.
Gill: Isn’t a tamarin a kind of monkey?
Vince: Dude, if I find out after the fact that these are monkey chunks, I’m going to be so happy.
As it turns out, tamarins really are small, squirrel-sized monkeys, which makes the fact that these are simultaneously labelled as “Preserved Tamarind” (tamarinds being a kind of Indian date) and “Tamarin Confit” (presumably meaning monkey bits that have been soaked in something) a bit unnerving. Though not quite as unnerving as the fact that they look like sugared monkey balls.
Thankfully (or maybe not), they turned out to be the preserved Indian dates, rolled in sugar, salt and chili powder. Those are literally the only ingredients: tamarind, sugar, salt, chili. As far as snacks go, you could do worse.
Vince: A bit like a dried apricot rolled in sugar, salt and chili spice. Tough, but chewable. I don’t mind it. I’ll finish this one right now.
Chicken: Too spicy for no reason. It sucks.
Schnapps: It’s fine. Sugary and spicy, but not offensive.
Gill: The tamarind is tangy, which doesn’t clash with the chili flavour. The one thing I find the most offputting is the texture – you have to bite down really hard to chew on them. Other than that, not bad.
Between the spiciness of the tamarind and the greasiness of the chicken skin chips, we were all starting to feel thirsty again. Time to crack open the second beverage that we had purchased: the pennywort drink!
None of us had ever even heard of pennywort before, and beyond that picture of green leaves on the front of the can, the manufacturers of the drink weren’t giving us any clues. What’s even more alarming is that, according to Wikipedia, pennywort can refer to any number of completely different plants from around the world! So we really were flying blind on this one. I’m betting, though, that the drink was made from Asiatic Pennywort.
Pouring the drink out into glasses did nothing to ease our trepidation, as the more we poured out, the browner the drink appeared.
Schnapps wound up with the brownest glass, so he drank first. Here’s our assessment:
It really did taste like green tea and dirt. Green tea on the way down, with a dirty, dirty aftertaste. Pouring out the dregs into the sink revealed that the drink contained, as Vince put it, “pockets of brownness.” I can’t imagine drinking this for any reason short of being completely parched after a long crawl through the desert.
We were down to the last two snacks, and we decided to leave the most daunting one for last, which meant that next up was the “Kuai Kuai Peacock Snack”.
A closer inspection of the bag revealed that Peacock was the name of the manufacturer of this snack, which was a bit disappointing as we were all hoping that it would turn out to be chunks of peacock. With the “peacock” part of the snack name out of the equation, we were left with nothing to indicate what was in the bag besides what appeared to be an Asian motocross racer, Max from Where the Wild Things Are and the words “non-fried.” We opened the bag to find…
…Asian goldfish crackers! They’re not cheesy, and they’re made out of rice, but they’re definitely goldfish-style crackers.
Vince: Vaguely fishy taste to it, got a good crunch. It’s fine. It has a little bit of a finish like the seaweed wrap on sushi.
Schnapps: Crunchy, fishy. Not bad.
Gill: It has the texture of corn pops and the flavour of soy sauce.
It was nowhere near the most exciting thing we had tasted. But that left the title for weirdest treat open for the spiced squid jerky.
This bag of Jane-Jane brand “hot” shredded squid made me nervous. I like squid just fine in Asian cuisine, but the presentation here made me pretty wary. The smell didn’t help any, either.
Schnapps: It smells like fish mixed with a freshly painted wall. It has a real fresh paint smell to it.
Chicken: I think it smells like an unclean woman.
Vince: I’m with Chicken on this one. It smells like an unclean woman.
Gill: I think it’s a combination of both: it smells like an unclean woman who’s just been painting.
The taste was less interesting. It was chewy and fishy, vaguely spicy and ultimately exactly what I thought it would taste like. But the awful odour it emitted was difficult to ignore, and made the stuff almost inedible.
Vince: You only get the spice at the very end. It’s really, really chewy and fishy. It’s just bad, not revolting.
Chicken: Better than expected.
Schnapps: No way! I expected it to be hot and it totally wasn’t.
Gill: Not hot in the slightest. Exactly how I expected dried squid jerky to taste.
And so concluded our taste-testing. After all the stuff that assaulted our taste buds, the Brothers Nitro and I quickly got our hands on good, old-fashioned pizza and beer and promptly washed all remnants of awfulness out of our mouths. I probably wouldn’t buy any of the foods or drinks we tasted again, but if I had to pick one, it’d be the fishy peacock snack or the okonomiyaki chips. I could eat a whole bag of either without suffering any stomach-churning effects.
I can solidly say, though, that this will not be the last time we go to T&T. There’s just too much weird food there to ignore, and you can bet that in the near future, Thinking Outside the Flavour Box will return with another bag of strangeness from T&T.