If you’ve ever been curious about those fried rectangles (or rounds for the dessert flavors) they sell at the counter in MiniStop next to some of our favorite cheap fried chicken around, we can assure you that you are not alone.
Kariman are not a common snack in the Philippines save for in this chain of convenience stores franchised from Japan (and recently spotted in 7-11 just this year, so there must be something to it).
A quick search on Google tells us that Kariman is short for “karintou manjou”, but the one pictured in the attached blog says Kariman is a steamed bun and looks nothing like the deep-fried sandwiches that MiniStop serves up in our country’s stores.
Whatever the true origin of these fried sandwiches or of what is called “Kariman”, our curiosity got the better of us and we picked up one of each Kariman at our nearest MiniStop to give them a taste. Here’s our evaluation:
Did your school ever serve up those fried, tubular pizza pockets? This tastes like that—and is exactly what you would expect from a pepperoni-flavored fried sandwich. If you’re craving the flavors of pizza without wanting to commit to the size or price of a full pie, this easy-to-eat version is a worthy substitute. The tomato gives it a nice tart flavor.
Ham & Cheese Kariman
Essentially a cheap-o Monte Cristo sandwich to-go, this was honestly pretty plain and boring for our taste. We imagine dousing it in salsa will make it worthy of your taste-buds. Know of any convenience store brand salsa or is that not yet a thing?
Cheesy Beef Kariman
A hint of sweet stands out in this Kariman, though that sweetness is present in all of MiniStop’s Kariman flavors. It’s meatier than the pepperoni version, with a thin layer of tomato sauce to perk it up. The one we picked up was on the dry side but dunk it in a sauce of your choice (BBQ? Ketchup? Mayo? Salsa?) and it’s golden.
A La King Kariman
Another savory snack whose sweetness stands out, which is not strange for chicken a la king, this Kariman has a nice green pepper flavor to it. Admittedly, the “cream” texture is a bit off-putting with its close resemblance to mayo (and we wouldn’t really be surprised if it was mayo), but hey—some people are into that.
Tuna Melt Kariman
Please skip this if you value your health. The Kariman we picked up on this particular day had the kind of “affordable” cream that may turn sensitive stomachs. It was bland and had the kind of unpleasantly chunky texture that just disagreed with our tongues.
The chocolate has the opposite-of-creamy-but-not-quite-gritty texture that comes with compound chocolate (which usually uses vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter to cut expenses). If you’re down with that, it is not half bad.
Cookies & Cream Kariman
This captures the essence of a cookie sandwich like Oreo and its ilk. Into wicked Oreos but don’t have the time or cash to visit a restaurant that serves it? This can hit the spot.
This article was originally published in 2017.