Irvin’s vs. The Golden Duck: The Singaporean Salted Egg Snack-OffFebruary 19, 2018
We’ve seen an outpour of salted egg-themed everything in the past few years, among them salted egg fish skin and potato chip snacks that have been rocked Singapore and the rest of the continent. Among the many brands in Singapore are Irvin’s, the cult-favorite notoriously so highly-demanded that they’ve had to establish a purchase limit per customer; and The Golden Duck, the Forbes-recognized brand whose team of chefs have all worked at 5-star hotels. Both brands are now available on our shores (no need to bug relatives abroad), offering similar products at almost-similar price points. But how do they compare?
Round 1: Fish Skins
Texture: Irvins offers an astounding texture that’s light and crisp (in a way similar to chicharon), but still satisfying to crunch on. Though thin for the most part, some pieces come puffier than others. Either way they’re light enough that you can keep munching on piece after piece without the umay kicking in.
Flavor: The skins themselves are just a touch salty before being coated in seasoning powder that’s slightly pungent (indicative of having real salted egg yolks) but errs on the sweeter, milkier side overall. Playing a supporting role is a touch of heat and the herby hint if curry leaves, while the richness of the yolk ties it all together.
THE GOLDEN DUCK
Texture: Whereas Irvin’s offered a light crunch, The Golden Duck goes for a more bold, resounding crunch with pieces that feel more heavily battered. You also find that more pieces come curled up (rather than flat), which helps amp up the crunch even more.
Flavor: You get the same general (real) salted egg-curry leaf-chili taste, but with the flavor balance more heavily tilted toward sweetness than saltiness, and with a touch more heat that lingers. More interesting is the presence of a coconut-y flavor which we found odd at first, but soon enjoyed for how it melds with the herbiness of the curry leaves.
The Verdict: Irvin’s
It was a very close battle on this round, but Irvin’s wins by a small margin. Though some of us prefer the coconut-y note, increased spiciness, and molar-grinding crunch present on The Golden Duck’s, Irvin’s balance of flavors on Irvin’s coupled with its light but satisfying crispiness makes it the superior fish skin snack in our book.
Round 2: Potato Chips
Texture: Whereas Irvins goes the delicate route in their fish skins, the potato crisps take on a more crisp and distinctively crackly quality, close to the kettle-fried sort.
Flavor: Coating each piece is a heavy dose of powder with the classic salted egg chip flavors—saltiness, a yolky richness, aromaticness from the curry leaves, ocasional pops of heat. In the background you also find slight chicken bouillion-like savoriness that compliments the rest of the flavors well. What we don’t dig, however, is the presence of a “fried”-tasting oily flavor which can taste borderline rancid.
THE GOLDEN DUCK
Texture: Golden Duck’s potato crisps carry a consistency that’s lighter and more delicate—so delicate that it feels almost too wispy in some pieces.
Flavor: You get a most generous amount of seasoning powder that can tend to overpower (one of our team members even jokes that there’s more seasoning than chips). It contributes a dose of the salted egg chip flavor profile which errs more toward sugary than salty, similar to the fish skins, but seemingly spicier and without the coconut note.
The Verdict: Irvin’s
For our potato chip round, Irvin’s won by a mile. Mild rancidity aside, we simply cannot get enough of its crackly, crunchy texture. The addition of that bouillion-y note is also especially ingenious, making it all that much harder to stop at one chip.