Story by Aaron Kandell
Photo by James Anshutz
Picture a pile of shrimp pounded into a paste, mixed with tapioca flour, then deep-fried. Sound appetizing? For many raised on Hawai‘i’s multiethnic cuisine, the shrimp chip is comfort food, the pan-Pacific equivalent of the potato chip. If you’ve never had a shrimp chip before, though, the smell alone might thwart you. But Ryan Miyamoto aims to take the chip mainstream in a big way.
Ryan fell in love with krupuk udang—Indonesian prawn crackers—while traveling through Southeast Asia and China. They’ve been a treat in Asia for centuries, and Ryan wanted to combine the traditional texture with flavors more familiar to a Western palate. To achieve this, Ryan and his partner make the chips from scratch. It’s a laborious, twelve-hour process involving more than fifteen steps, from measuring to baking to frying to drying. And the two do it all themselves, including packaging and delivering the final product — an impressive feat considering that one year ago, when they first launched Ono Giant Shrimp Chips, neither had made even one krupuk. “We went through thousands of trials, most of them errors, to make this shrimp chip perfect,” says Ryan.
The result: a light, aerated wafer, low in cholesterol and packed with flavor. Unlike the processed shrimp chips on sale at local markets, the ingredients are high-quality and natural, from wild, ocean-caught shrimp to imported Japanese seaweed and sesame seeds. “Food shouldn’t taste artificial,” he says. “It should taste like what’s in it.” Surprisingly, the one ingredient you can’t taste in his chips is the oil.
Aside from original shrimp, chips also come in BBQ, Ryz Ranch and Hot Furikake (a combination of habanero and ghost chili extract). Some customers love the seasonings so much that Ryan sells them separately. For the adventurous he offers a trip into Wonka territory: a dark chocolate bacon shrimp chip with sugar cane crystals. “My goal is to take junk food and reinvent it as a gourmet delicacy,” says Ryan. “The versatility of this chip is endless.”