REVIEW: Lay’s Korean Barbecue (Flavor Swap)

Last month, Lay’s announced that it has bid adieu to its popular “Do Us A Flavor” contest (one of my first reviews) in favor of an entirely new contest: Lay’s “Flavor Swap.” The contest features four head-to-head battles between one brand new flavor and one classic flavor in four different categories. In each battle, fans will use their greasy fingers to cast votes and decide if the new flavor will replace the old, or if we never see it again. You can read more about the Lay’s Flavor Swap contest and see all the brand new flavors in this article that some idiot wrote. Tonight, we’ll explore the Barbecue Battle and review the new Lay’s Korean Barbecue potato chips!

Lay's Korean Barbecue

Lay’s Korean Barbecue

If you’ve never partaken in a Korean barbecue experience, you’re doing life wrong. I’ll never forget my first time. Much like sex, I was sloppy and unsure what to do. My friend who had previously done Korean barbecue ordered for the group and the next thing I knew there were tons of small plates in front of us, many filled with brightly colored things that I couldn’t identify. Directly it front of me was a bowl of some kind of cloudy liquid, and so as not to offend with my ignorance, I whispered to my friend seated beside me and asked him if I was supposed to eat it or dip my hands in it. We had no idea what to do with anything. The servers found our confusion hilarious because “ha ha, stupid Americans.” 

I later learned that these complimentary sides were called “banchan,” which translates simply to “side dishes.” Basically, anything served alongside rice is considered banchan and is always communal for the party. I love eating like this – a bunch of new things to taste without having to commit to anything.  But the main event was bulgogi, a wonderfully marinated grilled beef dish that is the first thing that comes to mind when people think about Korean barbecue. Judging from the picture on Lay’s Korean Barbecue potato chips, Lay’s thinks the same way. Here’s to eating some bulgogi chips!

Lay's Korean Barbecue

Lay’s Korean Barbecue potato chips are seasoned with “Korean Barbecue Seasoning.” Perfect choice. Lay’s breaks down that seasoning as sugar, salt, molasses, brown sugar, spice, onion powder, dried soy sauce, garlic, paprika, and a bunch of other ingredients. But can you taste all of that on each chip of Lay’s Korean Barbecue? Absolutely, you can. Lay’s nailed this one.

Upon first bite, Lay’s Korean Barbecue potato chips lead with a smoky charred flavor. If you’ve ever cooked with liquid smoke, it’s very similar. Things get interesting in a hurry. A quick jolt of sweetness follows from the brown sugar/molasses before transitioning back to a smoky and salty flavor. Rounding out the bite are underlying notes of garlic and onion, along with a saltiness that is appropriate for a potato chip. The saltiness isn’t that of table salt – it’s that of soy sauce. If you think I’m just reading from the ingredient list, it’s because this seasoning on Lay’s Korean Barbecue is exactly as advertised. This was a job well done and I really, really enjoy it.

Lay's Korean Barbecue

The major criticism – for me at least – is this. Lay’s Korean Barbecue is one complex chip. Chips are supposed to be mindless snacking, but these flavors are so sophisticated that they make me feel embarrassed that I never put pants on today. Here’s the best way I can describe my reservations: Lay’s Korean Barbecue made me crave dining at a Korean Barbecue restaurant more than they compelled me to continue eating potato chips. I can’t stress enough how good of a job they did with this seasoning – it really does make me think bulgogi. But meat-flavored chips have a special way of telling you that you’ve had enough, pretty soon into your snacking session. Is this going to be the kind of snack that convinces you to eliminate the highly satisfying, extremely snackable Lay’s Honey BBQ? I wouldn’t bet on it. If this were “Do Us A Flavor,” I might be staring at my top choice. But I predict the popular opinion will be to let Honey BBQ stay.

How Many Fingers I Dipped Into My Soup Rating: 8 out of 10
How Much I Should “Flavor Swap” Some Salad Into My Diet Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Read all of our 2016 Lay’s Flavor Swap Reviews!
Lay’s Smoked Gouda & Chive
Lay’s Olive Oil & Herbs
Lay’s Fiery Roasted Habanero

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2 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Even though I don’t like most BBQ chips, I am interested in trying these because of reviews of them I’ve seen online saying they taste like meat or smoke. I don’t really like chips that are that sweet (honey BBQ). Maybe I will have found a BBQ chip that I like…

    • Junk Male says:

      These are unlike any traditional BBQ chip you’ve had before. The flavor is very, very complex. I think I seem to be more keen on them than most, but I’ve had plenty of meat-flavored chips before. For what they were going for, I think they did a great job.

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