Asia boasts a vast array of snacks, each offering a unique history and taste experience. From sweet delights to savoury bites, the best Asian snacks offer something for every palate.
For those new to Asian treats or anyone looking for the best recommendations, try these 30 legendary Asian snacks now and don't miss out! The list includes several of my favourite Asian snacks.
#1 Pineapple Cakes
Pineapple cakes are a yummy rectangular shortbread with sweet pineapple filling encased in a delicious buttery, crumbly crust. Originating from Taiwan, it’s a popular delicacy with locals and also amongst travellers bringing home gifts, as the meaning of the word pineapple (‘ong lai’ in the Hokkien dialect) heralds the arrival of luck. Pineapple cakes can be devoured in a few bites and are usually individually wrapped, making them great for teatime snacks. Pineapples are one of my all time favourite snacks, the only trouble is that I can never stop craving more!
#2 Kit Kat
Everyone knows that when you have a break, you have a Kit Kat! The original chocolate wafer goodness may have been created in the UK but in Japan it became an obsession. More than 300 regional and limited edition flavours of Kit Kat have been invented in Japan including green tea, sake, cherry blossom and crème brûlée. For the adventurous, you can even try a soy sauce flavoured Kit Kat bar. I strongly recommend sampling a green tea Kit Kat if you are unsure where to start.
#3 Hello Panda
If you have a soft spot for giant pandas and a craving for crunchy cookie shells with sweet crème fillings, Hello Panda is the snack for you. The crème fillings come in a selection of flavours including chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and coconut. This bite-sized cookie also features giant pandas doing different sports on them which makes them fun for children, but don’t forget to sneak in a few packets for yourself!
#4 Wasabi Green Peas
These roasted green peas coated with wasabi will fire up your taste buds in a jiffy. Wasabi is made from the root of the Japanese horseradish plant and is typically added to sushi to give it that distinct hit of heat. Instead of mushy peas, try wasabi green peas instead. Once you start crunching on these spicy, addictive peas, you’re unlikely to stop!
#5 Hi-Chew Candy
Hi-Chew is all about the chew! A cross between chewing gum and fruity-flavoured candies, Hi-Chew prides itself for its soft chewiness and ability to reproduce real fresh fruit flavours. Made in Japan since the 1970s as an alternative to chewing gum (where it’s culturally taboo to take food out of your mouth), Hi-Chew currently comes in 50 different flavours. Mango, grape, watermelon - you name it, Hi-Chew has it.
#6 Seasoned Crispy Seaweed
When you think of seaweed, you might think of them wrapped around sushi. But did you know you could also eat seaweed in soups, stir-fries or even as a standalone snack? Dried Korean and Japanese seaweed have a crispy texture and slightly salty flavour that hints at the taste of the ocean. Seasoned crispy seaweed is a great alternative to potato chips and even comes in unique flavours such as kimchi and wasabi. I love eating seaweed snacks when I'm watching my weight or craving something healthy.
#7 Pocky Sticks
Pocky gives you the best of both worlds - a crunchy biscuit stick dipped in high quality creamy chocolate. And the best part is Pocky sticks are designed so you don’t have to get your fingers sticky. While Pocky in chocolate is a classic, it also comes in a variety of flavours such as cookies and cream, blueberry and banana. Fun fact: November 11 is celebrated worldwide as International Pocky Day because of Pocky’s close resemblance to the number 1.
#8 Dried Beancurd
Beancurd or tofu is made with soybeans and it’s often used for cooking in Asian dishes or as meat alternatives in vegan dishes. Dried beancurd is the snackable version of tofu and is essentially baked tofu seasoned with spices such as Chinese five spice, BBQ or chilli. High in protein and wrapped in individual packages, you can pop them in your bag and easily snack on-the-go.
#9 Koala March Cookies
March the Koala brings you his delicious crispy cookies available in a variety of fillings such as chocolate, cocoa vanilla and strawberry. First released in Japan in the 80s, there are more than 200 different koala characters you can spot on the biscuits. Koala March has supported the Australian Koala Foundation conservation group since 1994 so you can do your part for conservation while keeping your bellies happy.
#10 Tarami Fruit Jellies
For a lighter, fresher taste for dessert, Tarami Fruit Jellies boast chunks of real, premium fruits mixed with a delectable clear jelly. You can choose from fruits such as mandarin orange, white peach, grapes, or melon. If icarbt’s too hard to choose, there’s even an option for a fruit jelly mix! These refreshing fruit jellies will go great in the summer or when you fancy a smooth and easy dessert to conclude your meals.
#11 Dried Mango
Dried mangoes are truly a tropical treat. To enable people to have their mango fix without waiting for mango season to come around, mangoes are carefully dried to preserve its taste and flavour. This sweet, chewy treat can be eaten as-is or added to your cereal, yoghurt or trail mix for a burst of tropical goodness.
#12 Japanese Rice Crackers
Japanese rice crackers or senbei are one of the most common snacks found in Japanese households and are often served with green tea. This snack is made from rice, moulded into circular shapes and brushed with mirin or soy sauce before being baked or grilled over an open fire. The resulting taste is one that is both savoury and lightly sweet. Popular Japanese rice crackers brands include Kamedaseika and Amanoya.
#13 Fettuccine Grape Candy
These gummy strips were inspired not only by the shape of the fettuccine pasta but also the bouncy texture of fettuccine when cooked ‘al dente’. Bursting with a sweet grape flavour, these gummies are then finished off with a coating of sour powder to create the perfect balance of sweet and tangy flavours.
#14 Yan Yan Biscuit Dips
Yan Yan is one of the most famous and best Japanese snacks. It comes in a tall cup with two compartments, one for its crunchy biscuit sticks and the other for its sweet, creamy dips. Swirl your biscuit stick in the dip to get a perfect bite. The dips come in many different flavours including chocolate, strawberry, hazelnut and more! Yan Yan even comes with double dip cups for those of us who can’t settle on one flavour.
Coffee lovers, addicts and enthusiasts - this one goes out to you. Kopiko candy is made from high quality Java coffee beans, giving it a deep aroma and real taste of coffee. No brewing necessary here! Originating from Indonesia, Kopiko sweets are available in over 80 countries and have even been consumed by astronauts at the International Space Station.
#16 Japanese Ramen
Ah ramen, what would my late night snacks look like without you? Instant ramen was invented in post-war Japan as an affordable way to deal with food shortages. But these days, instant ramen is a worldwide phenomenon, with millions of people slurping up bowls of this delicious noodles in a hot, flavourful soup. It’s common for different regions to have their own ramen flavours but fan favourites include ramen from Nongshim and Samyang.
#17 Crispy Ramen Snacks
Don’t have two minutes to cook instant ramen? Meet the crispy ramen snack – ramen with zero cooking required. Just pop open the bag and you’re good for a snack. Crispy ramen is a deep-fried noodle snack that is packed with umami and a crunch in every bite. Flavours you can choose from include garlic, spicy, tonkotsu and chicken flavours.
#18 DIY Candy
Growing up we’re probably told not to play with our food, but with DIY Candy that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do. DIY Candy is literally known as ‘intellectual training candy’ or ‘chiiku-gashi’ in Japanese and was created to encourage creativity in children. Kids could make shapes and blend colours using flavoured powder and water to make visually appealing candy in the shape of sushi, burgers, ice-cream or even a bonsai tree.
#19 Boy Bawang Cornick
Cornicks is a deep-fried crunchy corn nut snack from the Philippines. Typically seasoned with salt and toasted garlic, cornicks made by Boy Bawang also come in Chilli Cheese, Barbecue, Salt & Vinegar as well as flavours inspired by Filipino recipes such as Adobo and Lechon Manok. These crispy snacks have a lighter crunch than typical corn nuts and are perfect for unwinding at home with a drink or shared with friends.
#20 Shrimp Crackers
Shrimp crackers are one of the most popular Korean snacks because of its crispy texture and seafood flavour. Made with ground shrimps and flour, shrimp crackers are said to be like crunchy French fries. Shrimp crackers have been one of the most beloved snacks in South Korea for decades. With its bold shrimpy flavour, these crackers are perfect for both snack lovers and seafood lovers alike.
#21 Fried Fish and Peanuts
This snack is a combination of dried anchovies stir-fried with peanuts, green onions, sesame, and hot chilli powder. Each bite of this savoury snack will set off an explosion of salty, sweet, nutty, and spicy flavours in your mouth. This crunchy snack can also be commonly found as an appetiser in noodle and dumpling shops across Taiwan.
Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made from mochigome or short grain glutinous rice. The rice is steamed and then pounded before being moulded into its signature round shape. Mochi cake is famous for its signature chewy, stretchy texture and in its original form, tastes a little like marshmallows. It’s customary in Japan to have mochi in the New Year!
#23 Chen Pi Mei Plum Candy
If you’re in the mood for sweet and sour flavours, this preserved plum candy with hints of mandarin orange peel is the one for you. This candy’s sweet-sour taste works great to perk up your taste buds and keep you awake if you’re stuck in long meetings or lectures. Although this sweet plum candy is one of the most popular Chinese snacks on its own merit, it is also commonly eaten with Chinese herbal concoctions to mask the bitter taste of the medicine.
#24 Haw Flakes
Haw Flakes are Chinese sweets made from the berries of the hawthorn tree. Haw Flakes come in little dark pink discs and are packaged like a roll of coins. Each disc is chewy and jammy and people have likened the sweet and tangy taste of Haw Flakes to guava or apricot. You can choose to peel each disc and eat it piece by piece or pop them into your mouth in multiples! The bright pink packaging of Haw Flakes is eye-catching and reminiscent of Chinese fireworks.
#25 Tam Tam
Tam Tams are a family favourite choice of snack in its country of origin, Malaysia. This crunchy pillow-shaped snack is flavoured with addictive crab seasoning which makes it relatively unique in the snack market and a reason for its popularity. Though they come in small packets to make for easy on-the-go snacking, one packet is never enough!
#26 Irvins Salted Egg Chips
Salted egg flavour chips have taken the South East Asian snack world by storm over the past few years. And pioneering this craze is Irvins from Singapore and their salted egg chips. These crispy potato chips are made with salted duck egg yolk, bird’s eye chilli and aromatic curry leaves. The salty, buttery, umami flavour of the salted egg chips have continued growing in popularity worldwide with even Cardi B being a fan of Irvins!
#27 Dried Squid
Dried squid is a staple in Asian dishes to add flavour to soups and stews. But it wasn’t until Hong Kong in the 1970s that packaged dried squid became popular. Packaged dried squid come in long, rectangular pieces or shredded strips. Its chewy texture can be compared to a lighter version of beef jerky but with the flavour of the ocean combined with a tinge of sugar and a hint of spice from chilli pepper.
#28 White Rabbit
White Rabbit is a creamy, milky sweet originating from Shanghai, China that is, you guessed it, white in colour. To prevent it from melting, the candy is wrapped in an edible rice paper that dissolves in your mouth. Pro-tip: leave it in your mouth for a minute or two to soften for optimal chewing texture. White Rabbit has also inspired popular ice cream, boba tea and even lip balm flavours. For many Asian people including myself, White Rabbit brings back nostalgia from childhood and Chinese New Year celebrations.
#29 Bak Kwa Jerky
Bakkwa is ‘dried meat’ in Hokkien (a Chinese dialect) and is a traditional Asian snack that is essentially barbequed pork jerky made in thin, square slices. As one of my favourite Asian snacks, they are salty and sweet in flavour. When cooked over charcoal, it lends a wonderful, smoky flavour to the meat. Though bakkwa can be found year-round, they are most popular during the festive seasons, which can be traced back to a time when meat was a luxury and only reserved for special occasions.
#30 Spicy Rice Crackers
Spicy rice crackers are made from rice flour and seasoned with soy sauce and chilli pepper. A popular spicy rice cracker from Japan is known as ‘kaki no tane’, which means persimmon seed, for its small crescent shape and orange hue. Its crackly crunch and tasty flavour makes ‘kaki no tane’ a great companion with a beer or two. In fact, ‘kaki no tane’ mixed with peanuts has become a mainstay at Japanese bars.
So how many of these 30 top Asian snacks have you tried?
No matter who you are, this range of flavourful and iconic Asian snacks is guaranteed to get your taste buds tingling as much as it does mine!