[UPDATED 2 MAY 2019] Note: This is an old article and since then, many readers have given feedback to us on the halal status of the snacks. Do refer to our updated article on Muslim-friendly convenience store snacks. Thank you!
South Korea has a few convenience stores from international chains like 7-Eleven and Ministop to local stores like ‘GS 25’ and ‘C U’.
Credit:gs25_official on Instagram
They pretty much sell the same thing - snacks, instant noodles and basic toiletries. With ingredients written in Korean and close to zero halal certified snacks being sold, it would be quite the challenge for Muslim travellers to try local snacks.
Fret not, for this article will introduce some convenience store snacks from chips to cookies and drinks that are Muslim-friendly!
While the snacks mentioned are not halal certified, Korean Muslims have been consulted regarding the snacks.
[Updated 2 May 2019: A reader has just alerted us that this product contains non-halal beef extract and is produced in the same facility as other products containing pork. So we have removed it from this list!]
1. Binch Chocolate Biscuits Described on the packaging as “European Style Biscuits”, Binch biscuits have a chocolate face and a biscuit back. They are just the right amount of sweet and are suitable for young kids. The biscuits are also in separate packaging, so they would be a handy snack to keep in the bag; especially when travelling with children. 2. ‘Chokchokhan Chococh3ip’ Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies [One of our readers pointed out that this product contains trace amounts of beef (not labelled)! Removed to avoid doubt.] An alternative chocolate chip cookie to try would be this Chokchokhan Chocochip Cookie (its name is definitely a mouthful!). Credit: yorisimple Its main selling feature is that its actually a chewy chocolate chip cookie and goes great with milk! Also something to keep the young ones busy with.
3. Nesquik Choco Wafers
My favourite among the chocolate snacks. It’s a vanilla or milk flavoured wafer covered in delicious sweet milk chocolate.
Credit: ayasaqr90 on Instagram
Another great chocolate snack suitable for both the young and old.
4. Pokachip Potato Chips.
This particular brand of potato chips does not use any meat flavouring like chicken or bacon powder (like most other brands do). They come in a variety of flavours like original, sweet onion and sweet cheese (Korean snacks lean toward the sweet side).
My favourite is definitely the original flavour. It’s amazing when paired with a cool can of ‘Milkis’.
P.S. It has been highlighted by a user that this product may contain traces of beef products. So please eat at your own discretion.
5. Sun Hot & Spicy Chips
Among the Koreans I hang out with, these corn chips along with the Pokachips are definitely the popular choice of snacks when friends get together.
Although they’re advertised as ‘hot & spicy’, they’re more sweet than spicy.
6. NongShim ‘Saewoo Kang’ Shrimp chips [One of our readers pointed out that this product contains trace amounts of beef (not labelled)! Removed to avoid doubt.] You’re probably more aware of the original flavoured shrimp chips, but the spicy flavour in the darker packaging is something to try as well. It definitely is a lot spicier than the Sun chips. For spice lovers, these chips have just the right amount of spice. One thing’s for sure, you can’t stop at just one!
I managed to find Halal certified Pringles (from Malaysia) being sold in the 7-Elevens around Korea.
You definitely need to find the Halal sign on the cans before purchasing because not all of the Pringles are halal certified.
UPDATE 2 Jan 2018: A reader has informed us that this product may contain traces of pork. We advise that you consume at your own discretion.
8. Honey Butter Chip Yes! I managed to find them! These chips were all the craze last year. Now they are a lot easier to find in convenience stores. However, there is a little complication with regards to whether these chips are safe to consume or not. I was told that while the chips themselves do not contain any ‘haram’ ingredients, the factory or company line sells products that contain pork, so its definitely up to the consumer to decide if they would be comfortable consuming these chips. Credit: happymunchers They taste strangely sweet and salty at the same time. Definitely a taste that needs to be acquired!
9. Flavoured Milk
There are so many flavours you can find! From strawberry milk to watermelon milk (this is my first time encountering watermelon flavoured milk). Definitely an interesting way to start your day. They cost roughly less than ₩3000 each.
7 Eleven has a ton of flavoured milk like Banana, Mint Latte, Coffee Milk, Mocha Latte, Coconut Milk, Strawberry and Watermelon.
Last but not least is my ultimate favourite Korean soda, Milkis.
This drink is a cross between yoghurt and soda. It sounds a little weird but its definitely a soda flavour I’ve never tried before. Once you give Milkis a shot, you might not settle for Coke or Sprite anymore!
Convenience stores sometimes sell fruits and vegetables as well! So if you plan to do some light cooking, hit up the nearest convenient store. You’ll be surprised at what you can find ?
BONUS: Samyang Ramen
The Samyang Spicy Korean Noodles is all the rage now, and the best news is, its HALAL! If it isn't spicy enough for you, the 2X Spicy Ramen challenges the true spice seekers with the extra dose of zest ?
Credit: yang_yangg on InstagramCredit: lolabristow on Instagram
Is smoke coming out from your ears yet? ? Don't worry if you can't handle the heat, there's other flavours you can choose from, like the cheese flavour ramen, which balances out the spicy-salty flavour perfectly.
Credit: nars101 on Instagram
Again, I wish to stress that these snacks are not 100% halal certified. I consulted several Korean Muslims who are better versed in selecting local products to consume.
Hopefully you are open to try these Korean snacks and enjoy them as much as I do. It was definitely an excellent excuse to visit the convenience store because I had to write this article!