Vegetarians, if you've ever wondered what pork rinds taste like, get yourself a bag of noriten (のり天), a Japanese snack of fried tempura chips lined with nori (dried seaweed). These deceptively light chips have a hearty crunchy, crackly texture that reminds us of deep fried pig skin, if it were seaweed-flavored. It's easy to see why noriten is a popular bar snack in Japan. The Serious Eats office devoured a few bags in no time, sans alcohol.
We tried two brands: Ohgiya from Japan, and Tao Kae Noi from Thailand. Compared to Ohgiya, Tao Kae Noi's version is less seaweed-flavored, more heavily seasoned—its ingredients include garlic, onion, and pepper—and more oily, giving it more of a fried taste. Both chips are good; which chip you prefer just depends on your flavor preferences. Ohgiya's is better if you're looking for a stronger seaweed flavor and a heartier crunch packaged in a larger chip.
If you're a wasabi fan, you might want to go for Ohyiga's wasabi-flavored noriten. It'll punch you in the mouth and nasal passages with a sharp sting. On the other hand, no one should go for Tao Kae Noi's spicy version, which tastes like spicy Beggin' Strips (well, what we imagine they'd taste like).
Who else is a fan of noriten?