Welcome to the Best Thing at Trader Joe’s, a series in which chefs and restaurant industry insiders share which TJ’s product is the GOAT (no #sponcon necessary). Today’s installment: Vien Dobui of Công Tū Bôt in Portland, Maine, on Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers.
I love all chips: potato, corn, shrimp, seaweed, whatever. A pipe dream, sellout move for me and my wife would be to create our own packaged chip or chip flavor. Staff meal at Công Tū Bôt is sometimes an excuse to taste new chip flavors. I can’t keep chips in the house, because I just end up eating a bag for dinner and then I destroy my tongue for days.
The Elote Corn Chip Dippers from Trader Joe’s are among my top three chips — from anywhere. I normally wouldn’t even look twice at these chips, but a high school student family friend of ours shared them with us and they completely changed my outlook on chips.
It’s like a chimera chip: They remind me of so many other chips — sort of like Fritos crossed with Cool Ranch Doritos with a little extra heat, and somehow these chips improve on the other brands in ways I didn’t think possible. They’re puffier than Fritos — which, to be honest, usually taste stale — and the extra air bubbles give them a lightly compressed Cheeto feel. Their sweetness is more complex and subtle than Cool Ranch Doritos, with a slightly more pronounced buttermilk-y, lactic tang that harmonizes nicely with the little bit of acidity from lime. Lastly, there’s a bit of fruity habanero heat to amplify everything. Now that I think about it, these might be my current favorite chip, full stop.
All of the above is pretty delicious, but there’s the added bonus of these chips being “dippers” which, again, I didn’t know I cared about until this chip. The elote chip is shaped perfectly for dipping and has enough structure to hold some pretty dense dips. And even though they’re super flavorful on their own, they somehow still compliment things like guacamole, salsa, and garlic-y hummus very, very well. They’re the miracle chip!