The freakiest foods at Thaifex: Jellyfish crackers, cola chips, and durian coffee

All photos: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts Media

Food exhibition Thaifex 2018 is happening now at the Impact Convention Center — and it’s a big one: Apparently they’ve got 2,000 brands across 11 categories being represented there until this Saturday.

Fresh food, frozen food, fine foods, seafood, pretty much all things edible.

It’s a hub for food-makers to show off their latest and greatest wares (and hopefully catch some attention from retailers), but the show also attracts guests who go simply to check out the food, eat endless free samples, and collect swag like branded tote bags, pens, and small bags of snacks.

Coconuts visited the massive exhibition on Wednesday and got to see the array of cool, delicious, and weird foods being shown. Of course, we were mostly interested in the weird.

So, here, in no particular order, were some of the weird and wonderful things at Thaifex 2018:

 

Jellyfish crackers

No, they are not cute kids’ snacks shaped like jellyfish. They are actually made of jellyfish. These crunchy, crispy crackers, made by a company called Dee Sea, taste a bit like seawater. Jellyfish is the main ingredient, followed by rice bran oil. Their promotional materials say that they replace the wheat flour in traditional crackers with powdered jellyfish to make them low in fat but high in protein and collagen.

 

Durian instant cappuccino

This instant coffee sachet has not yet come to market but its Thai maker, Abee, hopes to be selling it to retailers in the next few months. I tried the unusual coffee and it has a shockingly true durian flavor and isn’t overly sweet. Oddly enough, I actually enjoyed drinking it. I also enjoyed the other product they were debuting, a purple sweet potato latte, which technically is not a latte since it has no coffee in it.

 

Singha beer slushy

I got excited when I saw this beer slushy machine churning away in Singha’s massive “village” space in the center of the Challenger hall. However, as I was imagining myself swigging this refreshing beer-y ice at future Bangkok bars and concerts, I approached a pretty (promotional model) standing nearby who dashed my dreams. “Will people be able to buy this regularly?” I asked her, voice laced with hope.

“Oh no, only for special Singha events ka,” she said. Oh well, we had our shot-sized sample and moved on.

 

Cheese granola

Cheese is good. Granola is good. However, I’m pretty sure they don’t belong together. Daily Bites, which makes a wide range of granolas, were sampling their new product, cheese granola. I kept an open mind as I tried it but it was as bad as I feared. I could have maybe gotten behind a really savory cheese granola, eaten with milk or as a snack, but this cheese granola was — I should have seen this coming — sweet and super processed tasting. Let’s take a hard pass on this one, hm.

 

Durian and chicken hot pot

This vacuum-packed pouch, brought to us by the kind folks at Orta, contains a confusing dish. It’s a hot pot-style soup made of chicken, durian, and cream that simply requires hot water to be ready to eat. It might be to the maker’s benefit that they weren’t sampling this dish. I felt confused about whether it was supposed to be sweet or savory, and whether it was meant to be eaten as a main course or a dessert. We may never know.

 

Cola-flavored chips

Chinese chip maker Peke was on hand, and their demonstrator confided that they don’t have many clients in Thailand and hoped to gain some at the exhibition. Their products are certainly unique in a market where people seem to love weird, unusual new snack flavors. Chip flavors being offered included: an entire range of lobster chips, salty egg, cucumber, yogurt, and cider. But it was the cola ones that really intrigued us. They did kind of taste like when you eat chips and swig a Coke, but of course, there’s no Coke anywhere nearby with this one. Just essence of Coke, I guess.

 

Mock Lobster

Ok, soy mock meat is not that unique, the Chinese have been making it for years. The thing that weirded me out about this fake lobster ready-to-eat meal, called Boston Lobster, was the shape of the soy lumps, as if whoever designed it had seen the outside of a lobster claw but never cracked one open to learn that the meat does not come out in one neat, claw-shaped nugget. This made me think that, if they had not cracked one open to see the shape of the meat, how much taste research could they have done? Sadly, this is another that was not being sampled as I walked by. The dish was giving me serious lobster boy vibes as I stared at it though.

If you’re interested in checking this stuff out for yourself — the show runs through Saturday and is free and open to the public on the last day.

FIND IT:

Thaifex World of Food Asia
Impact Arena & Convention Center
Muang Thong Thani Popular 3 Road
Nonthaburi
Saturday, 10am-10pm
Free Entry

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