Growing up in an Asian household meant a trip to the smaller grocery stores and malls in Richmond to get items you just couldn’t find anywhere else. As a child, taking a visit to the Richmond stores meant going up and down the small but formidable snack aisle contemplating which item you could convince your parents to buy. Back then, the largest grocery store in Richmond was Osaka in Yaohan. Nowadays, it’s easy to visit just about any grocery store or plaza to find unique Asian snacks.


As a child growing up in the 90s, there were plenty of changes in the Richmond landscape. What was once scarce is now everywhere, it seems. While my formal list of nostalgic items could go on and on, these particular snacks were the staples of almost every grocery trip my family took.


These rice crackers are highly addictive. They are a perfect balance of salty and sweet from the hint of soy sauce and sugar in the ingredients. These crackers are not your typical ones – they are puffed and lighter in weight, but crunchy and not too dense. There are different variations including ones that have ‘sugar snow’ on the top and some that are mixed in with seaweed, but nothing beats the original rice crackers. Perfect for lunchtime snack items or a treat in the afternoon.


Photo: Dee de los Santos


Growing up, there were two reactions to taking this out of your lunch box: a disgusted look from a classmate that didn’t know how magical these were; and the excitement from friends who would trade part of their lunch for one or two packages of the seaweed. The lucky kids had several of these in their lunch box and as much as I loved bartering with my friends, I wanted to keep them all to myself. The seaweed snacks are lightly seasoned but are dry and crunchy. It’s easy to go through one package.


Photo: Dee de los Santos


While these crackers don’t resemble shrimp – or traditional crackers – at all, these puffed strips are extremely crunchy, salty and just plain delicious. When you open a bag of shrimp crackers, there is a very strong smell of shrimp, which could be a little off-putting to a newbie, but let me assure you that the taste is delicious. These crackers are one of the oldest snacks from Korea, generally made with flour and ground shrimp.


Photo: Dee de los Santos


Haw Flakes are made with Chinese hawthorn, which look and taste like cranberries. These haw flakes are stamped down to circles and sweetened. They are a balance of sweet and slightly sour and are tightly packed in stacks, similar to a roll of Lifesavers. Back in the day, these flakes were a vibrant red colour, but it looks like they’ve toned down the artificial colouring in it. Haw Flakes are wrapped in brightly coloured packaging that remind me of Chinese fireworks.


Photo: Dee de los Santos


On the saltier side of snacking, we have shredded dried squid. Similar to the shrimp crackers, this snack has a strong seafood smell to it that might be slightly off-putting to some but again, are very delicious. There are different flavours including spicy, peppered or smoked. The texture is chewy – I’d imagine it to be pretty similar to beef jerky if it was shredded. Warning: it’s surprisingly easy to go through an entire package in one sitting!


Photo: Dee de los Santos


Wasabi peas were for the adventurous kids in my time. These puffy green peas were coated in powdered wasabi. If you’re wondering if they’re spicy, they do have a bit of kick to them, but it only lasts a short while. There is more of a green pea taste to them after the initial hit of wasabi. They are crunchy and addictive.


Photo: Dee de los Santos


A staple candy for most Asian kids, White Rabbit candies look similar to Tootsie Rolls, only they have a completely different taste to them. They’re made with milk instead of chocolate, and are wrapped in a thin layer of edible rice paper (don’t try to remove it!). Sometimes when you buy a bag, the candy may be a bit hard, so you’ll want to warm them up by rolling them in your palms first. Personally, I like to let the candy melt in my mouth rather than try to chew it!

white rabbit

Photo: Dee de los Santos


This particular snack is not something a typical child would want – but it was one of my parents’ favourite snacks and after the initial sourness in your mouth, it is quite enjoyable. That being said, it is intensely sour, salty and sweet all at once, which makes them quite addictive. There are some preserved plums that still have quite a bit of meat to them so they are not all dried out. You can also buy these at Chinese dried goods stores without the pit in the middle.


Photo: Dee de los Santos


Wafers are popular throughout the world, but I think these particular Garden Wafers are some of the better ones. Garden Wafers have just the right amount of sweetness without too much frosting in the middle, but it also means they tend to be on the drier side. Garden makes a variety of different flavours, but chocolate remains a favourite. If you’re feeling adventurous, they also have Durian flavoured wafers.


Photo: Dee de los Santos


I saved the best for last – Pocky! These chocolate cream covered biscuit sticks are addictive and heavenly with every bite. It was difficult to share these at school – if you passed it around, there would be none left by the time they came back around! There are many variations of these biscuit sticks including Strawberry, Almond, Matcha (green tea), White Chocolate and Dark Chocolate to name a few, but nothing beats the classic Pocky in the handy, flip top box.


Photo: Dee de los Santos

All of these snacks are readily available in many Asian grocery stores including T&TChina WorldEmpire SupermarketSupermarket 2000Izumiya Japanese Marketplace, and H-Mart to name a few. Most of these snacks are available for under $5, making it hard to not give all of these items a try.

Last Updated on November 5, 2022 by Tourism Richmond