Welcome to Chip Chat, a column where Maddi eats as many novelty chip* flavors as humanly possible, then justifies it by reviewing the chips and pairing them with a game she thinks they’re particularly suited for, like a garbage sommelier who specializes in junk food instead of wine.

Except this is a guest column from Melissa, who openly admits this is a thinly veiled excuse to buy novelty chip flavors. I went to H Mart and a local Asian grocery market and told the people I was with that I had to buy chips because I needed to write an article about them, and when I later ordered the same packet of chips online to write this article, I maintained that that, too, was an important business decision and not guided by my eternal, unholy desire to eat chips.

*That’s crisps, for the British readers among us.

The Chip

I am a sucker for a novelty flavor. The more unusual to my palate, the better. Sometimes this is disastrous (Sakura flavored Lay’s) and sometimes, as with the case of Salted Egg Lay’s, a Thai variation on the classic chip, it is a delight.

There are two reactions to the salted egg flavor—revulsion or fascination. I’m the latter. The moment I saw a bag at the nearest H Mart, I had to have them. Because, in the words of Anthony Bourdain:

Eggs are delicious! What they aren’t is crunchy—the objectively greatest texture in a snack. These chips aim to rectify that.

But apparently, not everybody is as on board with the idea of crunchy egg (or perhaps just egg flavor?) as I am. Nobody wanted to try them with me, which was fine because that meant I got the bag of chips to myself. The other flavors I picked up, including a pizza chip I didn’t like at all, were not met with such disapproval.

After eating all three flavors, it was the salted egg that I found most intriguing. First of all, this is very much an “exactly what it says on the tin” style chip (or perhaps a “dead dove do not eat” situation, depending on your feelings about the flavor). These are salted egg chips, a common Southeast Asian dish where a yolk or entire egg is salt-cured or brined. If you’re not down for a) salt and b) egg, you’re not going to enjoy the experience.

That said, the chip was subtler than I expected. The texture is somewhere between a traditional crunchy Lay’s chip and a Pringle—there’s a distinct snap to it, but the mouthfeel (sorry!) is a little meltier than I expect from a potato chip. This was the only thing I’d change about it, in fact; I prefer a real good crunch, and these were a bit more delicate than I wanted.

But the flavor! It’s absolutely salted egg, but milder on the salt and the egg than you’d expect. This isn’t the flavor of pure yolk screaming in your face. Lay’s somehow managed to capture the richness of a good egg to its fullest. The flavor is rich and creamy; distinctly egglike, but without the… we’ll say “sulfuric” flavor some people associate with hard boiled eggs.

You really have to spend some time with the chip to appreciate its layered flavor. It’s not just like powdered egg (yolk does have a starring role, but it’s accompanied by a talented cast), but more like a really good deviled egg. There’s garlic and onion in there too, which cut the creaminess of the egg flavor and prevent the feeling of having sticky, cloying egg all over your mouth. It’s savory, for sure, but not meaty. A near-perfect balance of richness with spice and bite.

A screenshot of The Stalker from Ladykiller in a Bind with a bag of Salted Egg chips photoshopped over her head. Dialog reads, "Ah, um, uh, I don't know about that. It's kinda... um... really when I say "indefensible," I mean it... I know it's bad. I don't want you to judge me and think I have bad taste!" Ladykiller in a Bind, Love Conquers All Games, 2016.

Pair With

I knew in an instant these were the chips I wanted to write about for this series. But what to pair them with? What else had this strong of a premise and stuck to it? What else was either exactly right for you or extremely wrong?

My first thought was the game I was playing at the moment—Get in the Car, Loser!. But no, if that was anything, it was a spiced cherry soda served in a sundae glass. These salted egg chips were complex. Maybe even off-putting. And maybe it was the Christine Love of it all, but the answer dawned on me: Ladykiller in a Bind, a visual novel also developed by Christine Love of Love Conquers All Games.

At first I resisted the idea. “You’re only thinking about Ladykiller because you’re currently playing Get in the Car, Loser!,” I told myself. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

Ladykiller in a Bind is a visual novel in which you play as The Beast, a young woman disguised as her brother on a cruise ship full of hedonistic classmates. The Beast—and every other character—must manipulate, lie, and seduce their way to the top of the social order. But the game is clear about being a fantasy of messy power exchange; The Beast is put into uncomfortable and downright terrible situations, and is no stranger to lying herself.

Like salted egg chips, some people will be put off by the mere premise. Some people prefer a sweeter snack. But if you are the right audience, you have an interesting and worthwhile experience—one that might make people look at you a little funny if you offer them the opportunity to indulge.

You have to be willing to play along, to not resist the indulgence too much. Ladykiller in a Bind is explicitly—in every sense—a game about sex and power, which, as Janelle Monae tells us1, are the same thing. You can’t escape the salted egg. You can’t escape the sex2. You must be on board with both, embracing the push and pull of attraction and revulsion3.

And most importantly—I thoroughly enjoy both. Salted egg chips and Ladykiller in a Bind are pretty singular experiences and excellent examples of their form. Take a risk; have a taste.

1 And Michel Foucault, I guess.

2 Ladykiller in a Bind does have a more safe-for-work mode that puts the characters in silly sweaters, and all the sex scenes are technically skippable. But even if you take advantage of all that, the game is still about sex and the exchange of power—the characters have sex and exert sexual power over one another whether the player sees it or not.

3 Assuming you feel one or the other about either thing. Personally, I don’t find salted egg chips revolting, but it seems like everybody around me did. And listen—I love Ladykiller in a Bind, but I did stop playing it when my mom was staying with me. I still feel shame!

Read the rest of the Chip Chat series.