On a recent trip to Seoul for IEM Gyeonggi, I had the pleasure of sampling a bounty of South Korean 7-Eleven snacks — from the delicious, to the strange, to the stuff Customs wouldn't let into the country.
Here are my thoughts!
Genuinely delicious. Purely savoury with not pretence of sweetness, it had a depth of flavour and meatiness I wasn't expecting.
As someone who makes her own stock, this should have been less surprising than it was. It's in the name after all. Perhaps I have learnt to expect less from alleged meat flavours because "chicken chips" have been lying to me all my life.
I need to learn how to trust again.
I would absolutely buy these if they were available in Oz.
Ice Cream Oreos
I'm an Oreos fiend, so I was super excited for these.
I think I was expecting something in a subtle strawberry vein, but what I got was overly sweet raspberry.
It tasted like someone had sandwiched a Redskin between two chocolate biscuits. This may sound like heaven to you, in which case I hope you follow your bliss and find them.
They weren't bad, it was just a bit much for me.
Sweet Mayo Cheese Pringles
Alex hard-passed on these after I force fed him one on Christmas day. But you know what, I dug them.
They were vaguely reminiscent of both cheese and onion flavour and, for those of us old enough to remember, the limited edition Full Monty chips Smiths released a million years ago.
Peanut Butter Squid
I saw this around Seoul a lot, and I was genuinely keen to try it with an open mind.
That was a mistake.
Strangely, I didn't have a problem with the flavour clash. Neither the peanut butter nor the fishy flavour were overly powerful.
It was the texture. Both rubbery and dry, I felt like I was eating boot straps that had been seasoned with flour. Chewing was awful. I threw the packet out after three pieces.
I'm pissed that border security let these into the country but threw out my Korean jerky.
Butter Caramel Pringles
There was a lot going on here.
What I expected was the delightful duality that one gets from the likes of salted caramel. Instead, I was served with an overly busy mixture of flavours that didn't know how to play nicely together.
Nude Green Tea Lotte
Let's be real: I bought these because I'm incredibly immature and the name made me laugh.
These were fine — Reverse pocky that delivered on the flavour they promised. Good job.
The boy-band types on the packaging definitely weren't nude though. I declare false advertising.
Coffee In A Can And Bag
This was my first coffee in a can experience, and sadly I was a little disappointed.
Maybe it was the brand I chose, or because it was cold (I really want to try the hot variety), but I found it to be too sweet. I rarely take sugar in my coffee, so it was too much for me.
I certainly won't judge future tastings by this experience, but I'm feeling pretty 'meh' so far.
As for iced coffee in a bag — I'm a big fan.
When you purchase one of these in-store you're provided with a handy cup full of ice for your drinking pleasure.
There were a variety of choices, but I went for a straight up black coffee to match my cold dead heart.
The complete opposite to my can experience, this wasn't fucking around. It was strong, bitter and reminded me of my mortality.
Caramel and Cheese Popcorn
These bad boys nailed what the Butter Caramel Pringles couldn't. My world has been changed forever.
Alex barely got a look in as I shoved handful after handful into my face.
Not only this the sweet and savoury work together, the texture was perfection. It left me wanting more and I devoured the entire packet in a single sitting.
I fear that the only way I'll be able to replicate this simple culinary delight is by combining caramel popcorn with cheese and bacon balls.
Don't think I won't do it.
Vaguely Related Pro Tip — While at the movies, try combining Maltesers (I prefer dark chocolate) with the cinema popcorn. It will rock your world.
I didn't find these in 7-Eleven, but their existence is too great not to mention.
- Bling Bling Garlic Chicken: We were taken to a restaurant that was basically South Korean Sizzler and all fell in love with the glory that is Bling Bling Garlic Chicken. Perfectly combining sweet, savoury and the best name in human history, this became my everything. I've had dreams about it.
- Sweet Pumpkin Salad Cake: 'Salad' is a grossly incorrect word to use in this context. I can't tell you what this was, other than surprisingly delicious. If you're a fan of pumpkin pie that doesn't go overboard on the sugar, you would like it.
- Soju: And not any Soju (I had plenty of that on the trip), just whatever brand this is. I picked it up the airport because the bottle was pretty. As it turns out, it tastes exactly like Vegemite that had been forged in the fires of hell. For a second after my first shot, I was convinced I could see through time.
The author travelled to Seoul for IEM Gyeonggi as a guest of Intel.