When we walked by this shop in Chinatown, I pressed my nose to the glass like a Dickens character and insisted we go in. Aji Ichiban (188 Lafayette St., New York, NY 10013 near Broome St. 212-219-4010) is a Hong Kong based snack food chain. It mostly sells candy, but they also have some bulk items (shredded squid, dried fish, plum slices) and crisps. Some of the candy is packaged but they also have tons of candies (wrapped) that you can make your own assortment from. We bought durian (smells like hell, tastes like heaven-it smells sort of like natural gas mixed with garlic but tastes sweet) and coconut milk candies, white rabbit milk chews, different pudding and fruit filled marshmallows, a watermelon slice shaped lollipop, soda flavored hard candies, something called "seaweed muffin", cola gummies and some other odds and ends. I am going to review some of the candies this coming week-poor Matt has been instructed not to eat any of candy unless we have more than one of it-so you will get more details soon. Asian candy (not candy made by American countries for Asia-like the green tea kit kats and what not) is not as sweet as American candy, and tends to be more fruit flavored and of the chew/gummy/jelly/marshmallow variety than any sort of chocolate. They also sell many varieties of milk candy- not really milk flavored but sort of creamy. I have had both chewy milk candies and hard candies in the past and they are both really good. I don't understand why American manufacturers haven't started to make them for our market, they seem very popular else where. We have candy like Starburst which is sort of similar in texture but isn't nearly as good.
Anyway, Aji Ichiban is a great source for candy from all over Asia: we saw Thai, Chinese, Japanese and Korean candies there. It is a little pricey (a smallish bag cost us about $6) but the advantage is that you don't have to buy a whole bag of candy that you might not be familiar with and not like and you can get a variety. All of the candies I saw there, I have seen in other stores in their own packaging, so if I did like something, I could buy a whole bag of it next time. That said, I wish we had one closer! I hear there is one in a suburb of DC, on the Maryland side, so we might have to check it out.