Cover 2.jpg (original size)Illustration by Reshween Maan

Asia is a must on anyone's holiday bucket list, with a seemingly endless list of gorgeous sights and sounds to discover across many beautiful countries.

One of the best things about visiting a new country and surrounding yourself in a culture foreign to you is the opportunity to expand your culinary repertoire.

Also read: 5 new restaurants to consider this month

Local snacks are a fantastic way to bring back a slice of what the people love to eat when you're travelling.

To help you sift out the contless number of snacks in Asia, we decided to introduce a mini guide on food items that we think are a must buy.

Six of us here on the Tatler team chose one Asian snack each, giving you the lowdown on why you have to buy these snacks back when you visit these amazing countries.

Kathlyn D'Souza, Polvoron, Philippines

Polvoron.jpg (original size)Illustration by Reshween Maan

Why this snack?
It’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Filipino snacks as it’s so heavily imbued in their culture. "Polvo" is Spanish for powder or dust and as such polvoron is a heavy-yet-soft shortbread made of flour, sugar, milk and nuts. 

Tell us your experience with the snack.
My mother used to bring back a whole stack of polvorons from the Philippines, all wrapped in different bright-coloured cellophane wrappers. You cannot eat this without leaving evidence behind, I learned, because it crumbles. 

Why do you think others should buy it as a souvenir/gift?
Polvoron sweets are always associated with celebrations, so naturally it would be the first "happy" thing that Filipinos think about when asked what to buy from the country. And they don’t only come in one generic flavour, it’s like a surprise each time.

Tien Chew, Thai Toffee, Thailand

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Illustration by Reshween Maan

Why this snack?
Thai toffee is different to that of traditional toffee, infusing local fruits to give it an edge that makes it unique, fun and exotic.

Tell us your experience with the snack.
I was perusing a Thai supermarket when I encountered these sweets by chance. Intrigued and an adventurous eater, I bought a packet of each flavour as souvenirs and it was a hit with family and friends back home.

Why do you think others should buy it as a souvenir/gift?
It's toffee with fruits! It's playfully chewy, not too sweet and slightly tangy. It's relatively affordable and a packet comes with more than handful, making it easy to share with anyone.

Dian Kaur, Fried Crickets, Cambodia

Fried-Crickets.jpg (original size)Illustration by Reshween Maan

Why this snack?
My recommendation would be getting the steeped in insect protein (crickets, beetles, spider, scorpions) when in Cambodia. These snacks are perfect for playing truth or dare during happy hours with your colleagues upon your return. 

Tell us your experience with the snack.
I was dared into snacking on these creepy crawlies and all I remembered was the loud crunch and an explosion of seasoning creating a ruckus in my head before I found my voice to scream for water. Over dramatisation; it wasn’t that bad.

Why do you think others should buy it as a souvenir/gift?
This snack isn’t for everyone, only the brave need apply. It will not only add some cheer (or tear) into the lives your family and friends back home, it also has a long history in Khmer cuisine, dating as far back as the 10th century. 

Jean Goon, Irvins Salted Egg Snacks, Singapore
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Illustration by Reshween Maan 

Why this snack?
It's downright delicious! I'm a big fan of salted egg yolk dishes and I find that this tastes like the real deal. 

Tell us your experience with the snack.
Received this as a souvenir and the novelty factor was pretty high. You can't help but be curious when confronted with a big bag of chips labelled salted egg yolk. 

Why do you think others should buy it as a souvenir/gift?
Salted egg yolk chips have been done before but I find this has been the best attempt so far. There's also salted egg yolk fish skin if you're after a bigger crunch, though I find that the potato chips have a more pronounced flavour. If you've ever ordered salted egg yolk sotong while at dinner with friends, get this for them! 

Jessica Liew, Kuih Cincin, Sabah/Brunei

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Illustration by Reshween Maan

Why this snack?
This snack of Brunei-Malay origin is also a common delicacy in neighbouring Sabah (my hometown). Migration brought the recipe into the state and today, the floral-shaped ‘ring cake’ is solidly integrated as a Sabahan signature food. 

Tell us your experience with the snack. 
My best memories of kuih cincin is at Raya open houses when different varieties find their way to my sugar-smeared mouth. The crunchy exterior that gives way to a smoky and sweet filling, melting playfully on the tongue is pure nostalgia.  

Why do you think others should buy it as a souvenir/gift?
Besides it being suitable for both lovers of savoury and sweet, kuih cincin is a powerful example of food as a multi-cultural heritage, using raw sugars known to East Malaysia. It’s durable for long, bumpy flights, and has a relatively long shelf life too. 

Nafisa Akil, Calbee Honey Butter Chips,
Korea

Honey-Butter-Chip.jpg (original size)Illustration by Reshween Maan

Why this snack?
Unlike other Korean snacks, which are either sea-weed flavoured or come with traces of kimchi, shell fish and gochujang, this is one is a refreshing delight. Although they look ordinary, the potato chips are doused with French butter and honey and are extremely addictive. 

Tell us your experience with the snack.
Although these chips came out in 2014, I was only introduced to it last year. Despite the demand waning down by then, it was still very difficult to buy a packet. One rainy day, when I craved the chips, I had to drive nearly two hours out of the city to a remote 7-11 to some! 

Why do you think others should buy it as a souvenir/gift?
Simply because they are delicious! Your family and friends wouldn’t expect a Korean snack to be devoid of spices and strong flavours, since the chips are mild flavoured they work for every palette and not too greasy to consume. Make sure you are buying the original Calbee chips and be beware of fakes.

Wondering why Japan wasn't featured on the list? Stay tuned for our special Japanese souvenir snack guide coming soon.

Looking for amazing food films? Read our interview with Malaysian filmmaker Andrew Gooi who was nominated for a prestigious award

Tags: Asian snacks, snacks, Malaysia Tatler, Tatler guide, Irvins salted egg, Thai toffee, fried crickets, kuih cincin, calbee honey butter chips, polvoron, souvenir, gifts