I tried the other brand (Korean Nong Shim) years ago, and thought it was tasteless styrofoam. I never bought or tried those crappy Nong Shim brand prawn crackers again, except once a few months ago, and after opening the bag and tasting a few, I threw the bag away. Koreans may be good at making electronics and phones, but they can’t make fucking crackers.
Then, one night early in 2015, prawn crackers were served as a snack in a Japanese hostess bar, and I was surprised that they were actually flavorful. When I remarked that I really liked it, the hostess showed me the bag so I could see the brand name.
I have been thankful to her since, whomever it was. I have been buying these Calbee brand crackers at Marukai and other places occasionally.
In Thailand, I discovered that the Calbee brand is manufactured under license here, and was surprised and delighted that they have numerous flavors.
Most of the snack bags are 20 baht ($0.55), and range in size from 55 to 68 grams. The bags are sold at most grocery stores and convenience store. Convenience stores are widespread in Thailand, and it is common to see a Family Mart store only a few stores away from a 7-Eleven. According to a friend in Bangkok, because purchasing a 7-Eleven franchise is relatively inexpensive and easy, and because there do not appear to be area restrictions, it is typical to see a 7-Eleven on every block. In fact, on many blocks, multiple 7-Elevens exist.
Because there are thousands of 7-Eleven stores in Thailand (over 4,000 in Bangkok alone!), they must have so much buying power that a few flavors of Calbee brand crackers are advertised as being available only at 7-Eleven.
Here is a rundown of flavors I have found so far:
Original Flavor – still good but now like vanilla to me.
Calbee black pepper
Black Pepper Flavor – very good peppery taste.
Tomyam Flavor – my current favorite, with lemongrass and sour notes, just like the soup.
Mayonnaise Flavor – actually does have the taste of mayo, I like mayo but this is not one of my faves.
Calbee grilled lobster
Grilled Lobster – must say it does have those flavor notes.
Calbee garlic butter lobster
Garlic Butter Lobster – outstanding, if you can find it – only available at 7-Elevens.
Calbee Japanese curry
Japanese Curry – not bad – only available at 7-Elevens.
Calbee hot spicy chicken
Hot and Spicy Chicken with Sauce – has a separate packet of sauce – not spicy at all; meh – only available at 7-Elevens.
Calbee Korean chicken
Korean Chicken – meh.