Delicious! 10 underrated snacks to try at a Korean-Japanese market near you

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MANILA, Philippines – Over the years, Korean-Japanese grocery stores have sprung up all over the Philippines. If there isn’t one near you (which is unlikely at this rate), there are sure to still be a variety of Korean-Japanese items within easy reach at your local supermarket. And they’re growing in popularity for good reason!

KJ-Marts are popular stops for k-drama and anime enthusiasts alike, where you can easily buy ingredients to make your own Samgyupsal or some kawaii Munchies for a whole night. Stepping into these small markets already feels like a mini trip to Korea and Japan’s 7/11. Every shelf is packed with interesting foods – from instant noodles and funky chips to microwaveable curries. There are even some as bizarre as Pocari sweat powder or Coke-flavored Pringles!

But we have to admit – most of us leave KJ markets with the same old choices, like the instant ramen you saw Hospital Playlist or the soju in IU’s new ad. Without a doubt, these foreign markets are still uncharted seas full of hidden treasures that Filipinos have yet to appreciate.

In the spirit of trying new things, we’ve tested some underrated sweet and savory treats from the more low-key aisles of KJ markets. Now you don’t have to be intimidated anymore Hangul or katakana on the box because we’ve got you covered with a review of each!

Seoju Yoghurt Ice Cream Bar (₱45)

On hot days we dive right into the cool boxes of the K-Marts. Instead of getting Melona or the “Fish Ice Cream” Samanco, grab a Seoju Yoghurt Ice Cream Bar!

Photo by Sydney Cañamo/Rappler

This popsicle is a sweet and rich sorbet with a yoghurt syrup surprise at its core. Although it tastes different than the popular Yakult, the packaging states that the frozen bar also contains 10 million probiotics. Eating not only refreshes us from the heat but also keeps our gut happy and healthy!

Nongshim Korea Italian Pizza Waffle Snack (₱79)

If you’re craving Italian margherita pizza, Nongshim Korea’s Waffle Snack might be a budget alternative. This bag of waffle snack combines Italian pizza and American barbecue flavors with the lingering aftertaste of basil.

Photo by Sydney Cañamo/Rappler

Each piece of potato (disguised as a fun waffle) is loudly crunchy on the first bite, but with a kropek-like texture that is pleasantly soft to chew on. Snack on it the next time you binge-watch your favorite TV series!

Suntory I love veggie juice (₱88)

We know “vegetable juice” sounds like a questionable choice. But before the anti-veggie committee sweeps that can away, know that it’s not as bad as it sounds!

Photo by Sydney Cañamo/Rappler

This 190 gram Japanese drink is a blend of four different fruits including grape, apple and lemon; and nine vegetables with carrots, tomatoes and celery. As crazy as this combination is, the drink tastes very much like four seasons, but with a healthy twist.

According to the product description, it contains no salt, sugar or flavorings. Hate it or love it, this juice drink is made for those looking for more organic choices.

Lotte Pepero Kko Kkal Cone Corn Flavor (₱59)

We all love our chocolate dipped, almond covered pepero sticks, but would you love a corn cone flavored one? Lotte has made another snack that tastes like one of her own—and Kko Kkal Cone won’t disappoint.

Photo by Sydney Cañamo/Rappler

This Korean-in-the-snack meta-snack balances creamy chocolate and the punch of sweetcorn. Its addictive aroma and taste will surely leave you glued around to the last bite.

Mini Coolish – Vanilla (₱110)

If vanilla sounds ordinary and boring to you, a Coolish pack can prove you wrong. This Japanese Ice Cream Dessert is fun, innovative and delicious!

Photo by Sydney Cañamo/Rappler

Having a Coolish feels like eating a fast food sundae, except you squeeze it out of a packet and sip it. Not only is it a sweet and clean way to eat ice cream, but it doubles as a post-meal palate cleanser. This mini dessert actually contains fine ice cream leaves that create a unique and refreshing mouthfeel. Well, that’s heightened vanilla for you!

Nissin Chili Tomato Cup Noodles (₱135)

It’s not a stop at the Japanese market without a cup of Nissin instant noodles in hand. Among the bold and common flavors, seafood and curry are probably the more popular options. Chili Tomato, on the other hand, is one of Nissin’s underrated products that should be picked up more this rainy season.

Photo by Sydney Cañamo/Rappler

This savory mug has a rich tomato base with minimal seasoning, topped with real chunks of tomato, corn, cabbage, green beans and chicken – perfect for a juicy anime movie night.

Jinju Cheese Sausages (₱35 and ₱50)

Here’s one you’ve probably seen in K-Dramas! We know jinju sausages as an extension of Lee Sung-kyung in Weightlifting Fairy: Kim Bok-joo. But don’t let the looks fool you – it tastes far from a regular hot dog. These soft sausages are actually made from fish, have a tofu-like texture and taste that reminds you of it tusok-tusok fish balls or fish cakes.

Photo by Sydney Cañamo/Rappler

Koreans really must enjoy these treats as they come in different flavors like original, corn, cheese and even tteokbokki.

Haitai Sinjjoli Chewy Candy – Strawberry (₱30)

A snack list wouldn’t be complete without a few sweets. If you’re a fan of Trolli’s fireflies and sour duct tape then you are Sinjjoli is the pleasure for you!

Photo by Sydney Cañamo/Rappler

The striped sweets are available in the flavors apple, strawberry and lemon. When opened, the long, sugar-dusted chewing belt takes you back to childhood with its sweet, fruity and sour taste. Pick up a pack or two and snap the ribbon to share with family and friends.

Korean Snack Nongshim Banana Kick (₱70)

A joker on the list is the Banana Kick Snack by Nongshim. Don’t go bananas just yet, because the sweetness of these corn puffs is surprisingly successful.

Photo by Sydney Cañamo/Rappler

The packaging that looks straight out of you minions Movie, features a happy banana literally kicking a soccer ball. This potent banana essence definitely hits the spot when you open the bag. The cute puffs, like Pinoy’s favorite Mobi, melt in your mouth after the first bite. The product label also recommends pairing the banana-shaped treats with different desserts. Banana Kick can be dipped in chocolate or milk, mashed into a parfait, or sprinkled on top of a banana split.

Tom’s Farm Tiramisu Almond (₱350)

If you haven’t tried Tom’s Farm Almond Snacks, you’d better start with one of their best variations – the Tiramisu flavor!

Photo by Sydney Cañamo/Rappler

Tom’s Farm lives up to the iconic coffee-flavored dessert with the same cocoa flavor and creaminess of custard. Each almond is covered with a layer of chocolaty coffee indulgence. A hint of salty flavor joins in when you bite through the nut.

This snack is best enjoyed with a cup of coffee or simply on its own!

Now, which of these whimsical snacks are you adding to your cart? – Rappler.com

Items were found at New Hatchin Japanese Grocery White Plains, Fun & Mart Korean Grocery White Plains, and Jjang Korean Mart San Juan.

Sydney Cañamo is an intern at Rappler.

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