To those living out of Southeast Asia you may not know this phenomenon, but salted egg potato chips have taken Singapore by storm in the past two years.
Most famous of the brands here would be Irvins Salted Egg Potato Chips and Salted Egg Fish Skin. At S$16 for a big bag (230g) or chips and S$8 for small bag (105g), I would say the prices are high for a bag of potato chips. But no, these aren’t just a bag of chips.
Photo: Irvins Salted Egg
The recent hoo-ha surrounding Irvins may be disconcerting though I think at most disorienting for the first few days after getting over the disgust, but I won’t be focusing on that as I have to channel my charged emotions into this post; how salty I feel for having spent good money on cheaper but still pricey salted egg potato chips only to feel ‘cheated’ for the lack thereof the very flavour I was looking for.
Tourists from around the region are known for wiping out Irvins salted egg goods by the bulk. Large Irvin branded bags in hand, these tourists are ruthless in their goal to satisfy their salted egg chips cravings as well as those of their relatives’, neighbours’ and colleagues’. It is not surprising to be in the queue for 15mins or more to get your hands on your own pack before you hear one of Irvins’ staff announcing proudly ‘Out of stock!’, to the disarrayed people in front and behind you. Then, you spot the notorious trio heaving their bags of chips at the head of the queue either quickly making their getaway or ostentatiously counting their (I would say ill-gotten gains but am aware I would be pushing it) prized goods loudly within earshot of the disappointed office crowd behind them who have lost 15 mins of their precious lunch. So, besides Irvins what other options are there?
Being a fan of good salted egg yolk chips, I have noticed the increasing numbers of competing brands. With some of them being at lower price points though still pricey imho, I have been tempted and I have succumbed. I remember the first mass-marketed competitor that came out was Golden Duck.
Being easily available at 7-11 stores and Cold Storage outlets island wide, it was more easily available than Irvins which was only available at selected stand-alone stores. I remember apprehensively parting with my $7 (I believe now it is $7.30), half glad to find something cheaper but also half doubtful about the taste of it. To my surprise, it was delicious and I thought it could stand on its own against Irvins’.
What I like about the salted egg taste of both brands is that there is a balance of these factors
1. the fragrance of the salted egg yolk and the curry leaves,
2. the saltiness and the slight sweetness.
3. the coating of the salted egg yolk powder
4. the salted egg yolk taste that is there throughout from the first chip to the last
Which brings me back to the reason why I am writing this post: what triggered me was actually how salty I felt for having spent good money on cheaper but still pricey salted egg potato chips only to feel ‘cheated’ for the lack thereof the very flavour I was looking for.
I want to drive home the point to other competitors that: If you aren’t as good as the top selling chips in the market, don’t put your products out in the market. My heart and tastebuds can no longer take it, and I almost feel it’s my karmic punishment for trying out other brands aside from the top two favourite brands mentioned above.
Let me give a rundown on the other brands that I have tried. Somehow, I feel this small wave of guilt creeping up as I embark on this confession.
1. 7-11 Brand Salted Egg Potato Chips, $7
Good for the first three chips perhaps? Then the flavour fades and the more you eat it the more you regret not getting the usual.
2. Salted egg chips brand that that is made in the Philippines, found in NTUC.
Overly sweet and indistinct salted egg yolk flavour. I think I got it for $3.50 previously when it was on offer.
3. Crusty’s Salted Egg Potato Chips with Truffle, $5.80 (usual price is $6.80) I think Crusty’s started up a whole new ball game. And I can’t help but rave about this. Alright so on very first impression when you open the ziplock, the fragrance of the truffle will hit you in the face. Next on taste, the salted egg taste was there…as well as the truffle! I don’t know how they did it, but they did it with a bang. Kudos for differentiating themselves from the usual Salted Egg Yolk Flavour. Trying out Crusty’s renewed my faith that there could be other good brands for salted egg flavour chips.. then again I am very comfortable consuming from these brands, Irvins and Golden Duck that I don’t really wish to try others anymore.
As the Crusty’s website further elaborates, their chips are ‘100% free from artificial flavourings and preservatives and freshly prepared from our local factory in Singapore. Crusty’s use only top quality ingredients and spices to bring you goodness till the last crust.’ You do you Crusty’s.
3. ?? At this point in time I don’t think I can find something that is cheaper and better.
Thus, I will put an end to this saltiness.
Header picture: Food Wanderer