Soda may be almost as American as apple pie, but that doesn't mean the rest of the world isn't making a good show of producing their own noteworthy varieties of pop. Special props go to Asia (yes, the whole continent), whose diverse component countries have come up with some wicked good soda brands. Here are my top 5 to try:
5. Sarsi (Philippines). Though labeled a sarsaparilla soda, Sarsi actually tastes more like American root beer, albeit a milder, less saccharine version. In the Philippines, Vietnam and Hong Kong, it has successfully outsold other major Western root beers. Some claim it has a substantial unpleasant aftertaste, but in this writer's very limited experience, it's more than palatable.
4. Apple Sidra (Taiwan). Considering Americans are on board with the idea of sparkling apple cider, it's a bit strange that virtually no major U.S. beverage company has developed an apple-flavored soda. Until then we must rely on Taiwanese hometown favorite Sidra, available for purchase online and at Asian markets.
3. Limca (India). I became enamored of this cloudy, tart lemon-lime beverage when I went to India a decade ago, and I am thrilled that since then it's achieved enough of an international following to be sold in specialty grocery stores in the United States. A bit less carbonated than Sprite and with a stronger citrus flavor, Limca is wonderful on its own, and also serves as a great mixer base for party punch.
2. Milkis (South Korea). Earlier, I erroneously assumed carbonated milk is not available for purchase at the supermarket. Well, that's not true in South Korea, which produces Milkis, a truly unique soda made from sparkling water, milk and other natural/unnatural flavors. If you don't happen to be in Seoul anytime soon, never fear; Milkis (at least the yogurt variety) is available for sale online.
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1. Ramune (Japan). How many sodas do you know that provide a sporty challenge as well as liquid satiation? Enter Ramune, whose uniquely designed bottle contains a marble that has inspired creative methods of extraction. And with Ramune, there's a flavor for EVERYONE. Varieties include but are not limited to: Banana, Blueberry, Bubble Gum, Cherry, Chocolate, Coconut, Cola, Corn Potage, Curry, Grape, Green Apple, Green Tea, Kiwi, Lemonade, Lychee, Mango, Melon, Mystery, Octopus, Orange, Peach, Pineapple, Plum, Pomelo, Raspberry, Root Beer, Sour, Strawberry, Vanilla, Wasabi, and Watermelon.