10 Foods to Bring Home From Your Travels in Asia

Sep 10, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

It’s tempting to seek out the most obscure foodstuffs to remember your travels by. But the best sources of edible and potable mementos are often the humble, everyday places — like supermarkets and convenience stores — which, as a tourist, you might overlook. Wondering what to bring back? Behold, our favorite everyday foods to take home with you from your next overseas adventure — whether they’re sweet souvenirs for the ones you couldn’t take with you or a nice way to bring home the flavors of your new favorite place. Here are our top picks from Asia.

1. When You’re in Taiwan

Snag Some: DYB Aged Artisan Shoyu from Shinkong Mitsukoshi Department Store

This premium soy sauce made from non-GMO soybeans grown in Taiwan is one of those game-changing ingredients that makes any dish it’s in taste better. Use it for braising, marinating — or as the base for dipping sauce.

Image courtesy of Amazon.
Image courtesy of Amazon.

2. When You’re in Vietnam

Snag Some: Phin Filter from Trung Nguyen

It’s not technically a food, but you need this filter if you want to make authentic Vietnamese coffee at home. While you’re at it, pick up a bag of coffee and a can of Longevity condensed milk, too.

Image courtesy of Amazon.
Image courtesy of Amazon.

3. When You’re in Japan

Snag Some: Yagenbori Shichimi Pepper at Yagenbori

Yagenbori has been selling shichimi togarashi, Japanese 7 spice, for nearly 400 years. In fact, it’s the place that created the iconic spice mix. Shichimi means seven in Japanese and as the name suggests, it contains seven ingredients which are blended to order — three kinds of chile, black sesame seeds, satsuma orange peel, nori and hemp seeds.

Yagenbori Shichimi Pepper
Image courtesy of Amazon.

4. When You’re in India

Snag Some: Moong Dal from Haldiram’s

You’ve never had lentils quite like moong dal, fried and seasoned split yellow lentils that are just one in a category of salty nibbles called namkeen. Sprinkle them on salad, soup or buttered toast for added nutty crunch; add some to your Chex Mix; or just eat them by the handful.

Moong Dal
Image courtesy of Haldiram’s.

5. When You’re in South Korea

Snag Some: Haitai Sindangdong Tteokbokki from GS25

Though you can’t take the national comfort dish of tteokbokki — chewy rice cakes in a rich chile sauce — back home with you, you can easily pack this snack food version in your suitcase. The crunchy, tubular treats are seasoned in a sweet-spicy chile powder that will dye your fingers red.

Haitai Sindangdong Tteokbokki
Image courtesy of Amazon.

6. When You’re in Singapore

Snag Some: Kaya Jam from Ya Kun

If you’ve been to Singapore, chances are you’ve had a breakfast of kaya toast — buttered white bread with kaya jam and a runny soft egg, served with milky coffee. Ya Kun, which has been serving the specialty for decades, lets you take the experience home with you with jars of its exemplary coconut-and-egg jam to go.

Image by Ya Kun/Facebook.
Image by Ya Kun/Facebook.

7. When You’re in China

Snag Some: Pu-erh Tea from LokCha

When you’re shopping at one of the best tea shops in Hong Kong, it’s only logical to buy one of the most cherished teas in China. Pu-erh, a tea that continues to ferment after the leaves have been dried, is a connoisseur’s tea, with funky, mutable flavors that invite comparisons to whiskey and wine.

Pu-erh Tea from LokCha
Image courtesy of LokCha/Facebook.

8. When You’re in the Philippines

Snag Some: Mountain Maid Ube Jam from Good Shepherd Convent

They may be trendy in the States, but purple yams — aka. ube — are a staple in the Philippines. They’re also the base for the thick, violet-hued jam made by the nuns at the Good Shepherd Convent in Baguio. Crafted from locally grown ube, condensed milk and butter, the spread is so pure, it’s no wonder it’s widely hailed as the best you can buy.

Image by Good Shepherd Ube Jam/Facebook.

9. When You’re In Thailand

Snag Some: Miang Kham Lay’s Potato Chips from 7-Eleven

While Thailand is known for its cuisine, the country is also celebrated for its extraordinary array of snacks. There is perhaps no better place to witness this than at the local 7-Eleven, where the motherload of Lay’s chips on offer is nothing short of astounding. Start with the classically Thai miang kham, flavored with coconut, lime, ginger, chile and dried shrimp.

Miang Kham Lay
Image courtesy of Amazon.

10. When You’re in Pakistan 

Snag Some: Nimco Spicy Potato Sticks from Imtiaz Supermarket

These compulsively edible crispy potato sticks get their kick from black pepper and chiles. They’re a Pakistan childhood favorite, only no one ever seems to outgrow them.

What are some of your favorite food items to bring back from Asia? Let us know in the comments, below. 

Featured image by Ya Kun/Facebook.

American Express® Green Card

WELCOME OFFER: 30,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: up to $100 annual CLEAR statement credit, up to $100 annual LoungeBuddy statement credit, 3x points on travel and transit, 3x points on restaurants worldwide

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide.
  • Receive up to $100 per year in statement credits when you use the American Express® Green Card to pay for your CLEAR® membership at select airports and stadiums across the U.S. and Permissible Biometric Scanning Technology terms: eye scanning, irises scanning and fingerprints scanning.
  • Use the American Express® Green Card to purchase lounge access through LoungeBuddy to any of the lounges in the LoungeBuddy network – no memberships, elite statuses, or first class tickets required. Earn up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year on your LoungeBuddy purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $150 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
See Rates & Fees
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.