Another day another whacky chip flavor in Shanghai. The latest is Calbee’s Eel Kabayaki Grill-a-Corn chips, corn chips flavored like eel Kabayaki, Japanese river eel (unagi) slathered in sweet soy and grilled. And while most ‘exotic’ chips taste like a compilation of additives, these actually have a very vivid grilled eel flavor.
We’re talking Willy Wonka’s 3-Course Meal Gum-level vivid. Somehow these knobby Cheeto-like crackers not only convey a dead-on sweet soy essence, but we swear we tasted the flaky butteriness of the fish itself, as well as a hint of char grill. Eat them while wearing wooden clogs and sipping sake and you won’t be able to tell the difference. Unfortunately, after a few munches, the illusion fades a bit and the starchy corn flavor bleeds through. They might’ve been better in potato chip format, but overall, this might be the most authentic chip interpretation yet. Even more-so than Lays’ Spicy and Numbing Hotpot Flavor.
And from what we gathered, grilled eel chips are already a big hit amongst Shanghainese who’s lifeblood is sweet soy, and who have their own special eel dish, huangsan. You can find these at most Family Marts for 6RMB.
Benjamin Cost is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news updates on Shanghai’s dining scene to [email protected].