Mike Chen’s Must-Try List of Food Souvenirs to Bring Back Home

September 22, 2019

Mike Chen (aka Strictly Dumpling) is a popular YouTuber who vlogs about his food explorations around the world. Klook recently brought him to Manila to speak during their two-day Klook Travel Fest; and we got to sit down with him to talk about a few memorable food souvenirs from his travels.

“Well, the US doesn’t allow you to bring many things back,” Mike starts. But despite that, he’s managed to sneak some stuff home now and again. He loves to bring back food from Asia especially, because “they’re very specific.” Every place has something different to offer, and they can only be found in that specific area. Here are a few food souvenirs he recommends you to take home, as well.

1. Ramen from Japan & Taiwan

Photo from Japan Web Magazine.

Although “they’re illegal to bring back because they have meat inside,” Mike has taken home ramen from Japan and Taiwan. You can find them in most convenience stores. Japan’s 7-Eleven even has a special line in collaboration  with Michelin-starred ramen shop Nakiryu. These varieties of instant ramen can rarely be found outside of these countries, so Mike recommends bringing some back because “they’re just the best you could ever get.”

2. Saffron from Uzbekistan

Photo from Sindhi Wines.

Mike remembers bringing home saffron from Uzbekistan. “Countries on the Silk Road—expensive spices are really cheap [there], so those are really awesome things to bring back.”

3. Spices, Dried Nuts, Dried Fruits from Central Asia

Photo from Newsmaker.

Mike expands his recommendation to encompass the whole of Central Asia. He emphasizes his point about countries on the Silk Road, and encourages everyone to bring home different spices, as well as dried fruits and nuts. You’ll find them everywhere, even streetside.

4. Candy from Mexico

Photo from Helados La Azteca.

On his recent trip to Mexico, Mike packed his suitcase with about five pounds of candy from the city of Morelia. He got it from a place that’s been using the same candy recipe for the last 500 years. “It started with the nuns who were there; they were making candy to raise funds for their monastery… They sold it for hundreds of years, [but] then the recipe was bought by this gentleman who lost the recipe to another gentleman in a poker game. He now owns the oldest candy factory in Morelia.”

5. Chilis from the Philippines

Photo from Pinoy Negosyo.

A self-proclaimed spicy food enthusiast, Mike shares that he loves bringing back different chilis or hot sauces from his trips. On this trip, he planned to bring home a variety of silis from the Philippines. He believes that chilis, when used right, are a great way to add depth in any dish. (We agree.)

Jica Simpas Jica Simpas

Jica hopes that by writing about food she'll actually learn how to cook. But for now, she'll happily just eat everything—especially cookies.

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