• Kristina de Guzman

Paraiso Taste Panel: Chips & drinks

Updated: May 15

A review of some crunchy munchies in-store

Paraiso Tropical Latin Market sells a variety of Latin American chips.
Photo: Kristina de Guzman

Who doesn’t get the munchies every now and then?

Whether you’re staying in to watch a movie or a TV/Netflix show or looking to serve some ready-to-go snacks for your next BBQ, our Paraiso Taste Panel is here to help by sharing their honest opinions on the items they got to sample at Paraiso South.

Thanks to Yazmin Juarez (a.k.a. quetzalgirl)’s recent TikTok reviews on Queso Ruffles (Cheese Ruffles) and Mr. John’s Plantain Chips, we were inspired to get a group of foodies together to do a taste panel. And chips are a great place to start, given Paraiso’s wide selection of them! We threw a handful of tropical drinks in there, too ‘cause who really eats chips with only a side of water?

Before we begin, meet our four panelists!

Paraiso Taste Panelist Virgy Pardo with Exotic Cassava Chips.
Photo: Kristina de Guzman

Virgy Pardo (VP)

Tiktok: virgydiamondprincess

Cultural background: First-generation Chilean-Canadian.

Previous Paraiso shopping experience? [I’ve shopped here] since they’ve opened, because I was born and raised here in Edmonton. The northside store was first, so it was really far away, but it was always fun to go there, ‘cause you never knew what you were gonna find. You can find anything – from junk food to stuff that you can only find from back home. It’s amazing.

Paraiso Taste Panelist Yazmin Juarez with her favourite chips Queso Ruffles.
Photo: Kristina de Guzman

Yazmin Juarez (YJ)

Tiktok: quetzalgirl

Cultural background: Guatemalteca [Guatemalan].

Previous Paraiso shopping experience? I came here [to Canada] in 1992 and my family and I have been shopping here ever since. Again, the northside location was more familiar to us because we [lived] in the northside. In terms of the food, I like to come here and I like to buy everything and anything. But I usually go for the chips: that’s my number one. And then the chorizo.

Paraiso Taste Panelist Nestor Avalos with a variety of Latino chips.
Photo: Kristina de Guzman

Nestor Avalos (NA)

Cultural background: First-generation Salvadoran-Canadian.

Previous Paraiso shopping experience? I grew up coming here with my family when we lived in Abbottsfield and then when we moved to Mill Woods. But every month or so, we’d come and grab chicharrón and other supplies for pupusas and chumpes [pavo or turkey]. So yeah, I’ve been coming here for a really long time now.

Paraiso Taste Panelist Michael Villaraza with Takis and Rancheritos chips.
Photo: Kristina de Guzman

Michael Villaraza (MV)

IG: greedy_soul1977

Cultural background: Filipino background, Canadian-born.

Previous Paraiso shopping experience? This is my first time at Paraiso, but I’ve heard about them through social media like Instagram and facebook. I think what interests me about Paraiso is the Takis ‘cause I’ve never tried [them], but it’s caught my attention.

Earlier, the taste panelists were asked to select five types of chips that they wanted to review along with three drinks, one of them being Jumex, which was part of Paraiso North's Eats on 118 deal throughout March.

For each set of chips, panelists were asked to share their thoughts on the flavour, crunch factor, ingredients and/or spice factor.

The Paraiso Taste Panelists try to choose which drinks to sample.
Photo: Kristina de Guzman

Chips #1: Zambos Ceviche Flavored

Country of origin: Honduras

Sampling Zambos Ceviche Flavored chips.
Photo: Kristina de Guzman

YJ: They have a history of over 40 years.

NA (tries a few chips): Oh, that’s a lot better than I thought it would taste.

YJ: Mmmm!! That’s actually really…limey.

MV: The lime taste interests me on this.

NA: Yeah, like the lime sticks out a lot, and then it’s just balanced out with the starchiness of the plátano (plantain), so…yeah. I dig it.

YJ: It [has] a really good crisp factor. And the lime takes over but then a saltiness kicks in after the lime, which is perfect, because we love limón con sal (lime with salt). And there is a little bit of a kick, but not enough to be like, “It’s spicy,” but you can still kinda taste it.

VP: That is so true. I love the crunch of these. Like they’re not so thick and they’re not so paper thin that you can see through it. You can actually crunch it and it’s good. And then the savoury hits, the lime hits – I’m really, really pleasantly surprised.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is “terrible”, 5 is “okay” and 10 is “excellent, love it”, how would you rate these chips, and why?

VP: I’d give it a 7, because I’m not big on fish and stuff (laughs).

YJ: Six. I think, for me, it was a little bit too salty, and I think that kind of overcame everything.

NA: I’d give it an 8. It’s very like ceviche. If you ate those chips with beer, it’d be like “Ah!” It’s just like a chilling chip.

MV: I’d probably give it a 6. The lime was interesting, but I think the [saltiness] was maybe the part that I wasn’t too much into. I was hoping for a sweeter-based taste.

Chips #2: Exotic Cassava Chips (Lemon Chili)

Country of origin: Canada

Virgy Pardo reviews Exotic Cassava Chips
Photo: Kristina de Guzman

VP: I love the crunch – holy, is this ever good? I might buy one to take home with me for later [laughs]. It’s really spicy, but it’s not overpowering. It depends on the chip that you get. You either get the full flavour of the cassava or the limón-chile (lemon-chili).

And this was manufactured in [British Colombia], which I like. Because I love supporting local.

YJ: So, the crunch is like…really good. [The cassava] is thin and it’s baked maybe, but it’s like super crunchy. Every chip is different, because if you grab the really red ones – a little bit of kick comes in. But if you want to take a little break, you can choose the light ones, and those ones don’t have [as much flavour]…so it’s a nice balance of spiciness and not. I will give this one an 8.

Trying some Exotic Cassava Chips at Paraiso Tropical Latin Market.
Photo: Kristina de Guzman

NA: I’ve had these before and I really like them. The only thing I wish there was more of is the flavour. I really dig the crunch. But yeah. I wish it was like more chile-limón and it was more cassava, because it still has that oily potato chippy flavour. Uhhhm, so I give it like a 6.

MV: For this one, I’ll give it 7 out of 10. For me, what caught my attention was the crunch. And I kinda like the spicy taste to it.

VP: [My] rating for this would be…really a 9. Yeah. For me, it’s perfect.