Thursday, May 28, 2015

Tao Kae Noi Tempura Seaweed (Curry) - H-Mart: Cherry Hill, NJ

Tao Kae Noi Tempura Seaweed (Curry) - H-Mart: Cherry Hill, NJ
Finally! I bought this bag of curry flavored seaweed snacks months ago (I posted them on youtube sometime around Easter), and I've really been looking forward to this review. Not only is it a combination of curry and seaweed, two of my favorite foods, but it's also tempura-style! This is completely different from my normal seaweed snacks, so let's go ahead and get started!

A few weeks ago I reviewed the wasabi seaweed from the same company, and when I compare this packaging to that, I like this one a lot more. It has the same unforgiving texture, that shows every dent, scratch and bend, but the busy pattern hides the beat-up-ness really well. There's just so many visual textures that are all in focus, that it overwhelms the eye. I feel like some of the tempura-seaweed stuff should be slightly out of focus to give my eye a break, but it's not all that bad. The larger logo and the plate of curry give your eye a tiny oasis from all the textures. At the very least, the curry plate imagery is really appealing. (It makes me crave curry just looking at it.)

I opened the bag and I was instantly disappointed. There was barely any snacks inside! The bag was definitely over 50% air. I know that air needs to be included to act as a buffer to keep the seaweed snacks in tact, but this is ridiculous. I feel like I got ripped off! I poured a few of the snacks at the bottom of the bag onto a plate to get a better look.

Each little piece of seaweed is coated in a yellow-brown curry powder, and one side of each sheet has some kind of fried tempura batter on it. (How are they able to coat just one side of the seaweed?) Theses look very appealing and snack-able, kind of like seaweed-based pork-rinds, but they smell way sweeter than I expected. The aroma is that of a very sweet onion-based curry, which is okay, but I prefer my curry hot and savory. I'm really hoping this tastes more savory than it smells. (I had enough weird savory sweetness with those Black Been Cheetos.)

I picked up a little rectangle of fried seaweed and popped it into my mouth. My first bite tasted very batter-y and crisp, somewhat similar to a pork-rind, but a lot more dense in texture. It's almost like a pork-rind and a corn chip had a food-baby texture-wise. (Does that make sense?) The seaweed flavoring is overwhelmed by the doughy-ness of the tempura, and the curry flavoring is pretty sweet and onion-y. It tastes like the curry sauce blocks you can buy at the grocery store, but much sweeter than the Extra Hot version that I usually buy.

After my initial response I tried a few more, and the seasoning on these seems to be pretty inconsistent. Once and a while I'll get a piece that is coated with more powder than the others, so they have a strong curry flavoring with a tiny bit of spice to them. Those pieces are my favorites. It's not enough for me to say these are a spicy snack, but a little heat does build up slightly on the sides of your tongue.

These snacks were additively crispy, and the more heavily seasoned bits are really delicious, but you get so few in the bag that I don't know if I would recommend this product or not. The label says that there are 8 servings in this bag, which has to be some kind of mistranslation. There's just no way. I can easily eat this bag in a sitting, maybe two if I'm not in a snacking mood, but 8? That's just impossible unless you're only eating 2-3 crisps per serving. (And who the heck does that?) If you like sweet curry and seaweed snacks, these are something new and fun to try, but I feel like you can get more bang for your buck elsewhere.
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