Chinese convenience stores can be strange and intimidating places for the uninitiated, full of unfamiliar sights and smells.But in among the oil-soaking fishballs and the vacuum-packed unrecognizable meats are some snacks worth savoring. Let us introduce you to them in our Guide to China’ Best Convenience Store Snacks.
You can always trust a baozi (steamed bun) to fill a hunger whole. While you won’t exactly see people queuing around the block for convenience store baozi, they’re pretty much always of an edible standard. That standard raises quickly to “delicious” if you’re drunk or hungover. Baozi are usually available in some kind of steaming contraption behind the counter, so employ your pointing skills and hope for the best if you don’t have the Chinese to ask the cashier what’s what.
In the same kind of area you’re likely to find tea eggs, whose rather alarming appearance is to be disregarded. The gaggle of eggs with cracked shells bubbling away in a sinister looking cauldron of brown liquid are not the fermented “Thousand Year Eggs” you might have heard of. They are in fact just normal eggs boiled in a broth of tea and spices. The shells are cracked to let in the flavor, so go for one that looks particularly battered. Tea eggs make for a great carb-free snack when you’re flagging mid-afternoon but don’t want to spoil your dinner.
For something a little more substantial but still relatively healthy feeling, hunt down a sushi triangle in the chilled section of your local convenience store. These prisms of sticky rice wrapped in dried seaweed come with a variety of fillings, including tuna, shrimp, pork and even salmon (posh as!). All definitely have a wisp of mayo in there too, but it’s not overwhelming and is in fact needed to loosen up what would otherwise be a very dry snack. Half of the fun with the Sushi Triangle is the unwrapping, which is explained in diagram form on the packet. Do it right and you’ll have a mess-free, easy to eat snack. Do it wrong and, well...
Photo: Mike Mozart
If you’re a compulsive machine-like snacker, you’re going to love Pocky. These skinny biscuit sticks come in a variety of flavors in Chinese convenience stores, from pizza, to green tea, to seaweed. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, however, you can’t go wrong with the classic chocolate flavor. There are plenty in a pack so they’re great for sharing, but the crunchy sticks are also light and airy enough for you to consume them all personally without too much post-snack self loathing.
Photo: Mike Mozart
Lay’s Stax are Asia’s answer to Pringles. They’re not quite as good, but they’re crispy, light, the right shape and, most importantly, come in a tube. You’ll find some pretty out-of-the-tube flavors in Chinese convenience stores too, including Cucumber, Braised Pork, Hot & Sour Fish Soup and even Blueberry. Obviously not all are to be recommended, but we don’t want to ruin that journey of discovery for you.
Taokaenoi Crispy Seaweed
Switch the Lay’s up for Taokaenoi Dried Seaweed snacks and you can feel a hell of a lot more virtuous about your between-meal meals. The crispy seaweed sheets come in various flavors (Wasabi and Hot & Spicy are the best), and are super addictive. Yes, they might leave you with a slightly fishy aftertaste that will repeat on you throughout the day, but it’ll be outweighed by the smugness you feel about the calories saved.
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Keywords: convenience store snacks china snacks
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