Monday, August 31, 2009

Kobe Custard Melon Pan 神戸カスタードメロン


Supermarkets in Japan have a an aisle or two dedicated to pan (sweet buns). Usually half of them have been baked fresh, and the other half have been made by various companies and have a long shelf life, sealed in packaging to keep them fresh.

I am a melon pan girl, and I also love custard, so I thought a combination of the two would be great. It also comes from Kobe from a company called Kobeya, who I had never heard of before. A glance at their website tells me they specialise mainly in bread, cake, and pan.

This pan was shaped like a regular melon pan, round and with the criss-cross design on top, though it had some kind of clear glaze on top that made it sticky to touch.

Breaking the pan open revealed a dry bread bun with a yellow custard cream in the middle. The custard had little black dots in it which turned out to be vanilla beans. The custard was really nice, very flavourful, I liked the presence of the vanilla beans for presentation and for flavour.

The pan itself was quite dry, reminded me of bread which is a few days old. A look on the ingredient list reveals no butter, only eggs and shortening and wheat in regards to the batter. I think this is why it was so dry, no good quality butter to give it that soft texture.

I also couldn't find any mention of melon on the ingredients list, and I couldn't taste any either. Quite a letdown in regards to that, as I thought this would be both melon and custard in taste. I guess they think that it's melon pan to look at and custard pan to eat? I don't know. Strikes me as false advertising really.

Despite the fact that the pan was packaged in a really nice way, and the package itself says it is a "long seller", it comes from Kobe, and the custard was really yum, I wouldn't buy this again because I wanted melon pan, and I don't like dry pan. I think next time I will go fresh, and I wouldn't recommend this at all.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Poifull Soft Chewing Candy


I bought this pack of Poifull Soft at Lawson on a pit-stop, driving along the coast of Nagoya. I had heard alot about Poifull but never actually tried it myself, and as I needed a quick pick-me-up, I decided on these.

What really decided it for me was the flavours in the box - red grape, white grape, peach yoghurt and yoghurt. I love all of those flavours so I thought this candy couldn't let me down.

The box weighs 44 grams and was ¥115. There seemed to be more yoghurt and white grape than the other two flavours.

Each pellet is a small rectangular rounded piece of chewing candy, this is where they differ from the regular style of jelly bean.

Yoghurt - Creamy white in colour, very much like Yakult or some other yoghurty drink, though it is quite tart.

White Grape - The outside of the candy tasted sour, the first notes are tart and sour, and becomes sweet at the end, really tastes like muscat.

Red Grape - A washed out maroon colour, sour on the outside, really sour and tart on the inside, only a little sweetness, mostly sour.

Peach Yoghurt - Baby pink in colour, this reminds me of the texture and taste of the skin of a peach, very real peach flavour, some tartness, but very well balanced with sweet.

Overall, my favourite was the peach yoghurt, followed by yoghurt. I am a grape flavour fan but I thought these were way too tart for my liking. I gave them to two other friends and they also agreed.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tirol Air-In Salty Vanilla チロル 塩バニラ


After coming to Japan I have been browing the aisles of supermarkets to find new and different Tirol flavours. I have not had much luck so far, only finding the regular coffee flavour.

At Jusco a few days ago, I finally found this flavour for ¥20. I originally grabbed two of them but lost one on the way home, only to find it in a friends car two days later, it had melted in the heat and lost its shape.

The image on the packet is of a sparkling blue ocean with a small island in the background and a soft serve cone in the foreground. I am not sure why the soft serve is in the image, but after googling "soft serve salty vanilla" I found a few links to icecream with a salty topping in Hakata, so maybe thats a kind of regional specialty.

This chocolate is air-in which basically means its like an Aero, it is aerated, very soft, and less dense.

From the outside, the chocolate smells of vanilla and a saltiness like the beach (cue blue water on image). The chocolate is quite soft to bite into and feels really grainy. Its really white chocolate, with a hint of vanilla, and after all the chocolate has melted, a few grains of salt.

The air-in makes the middle soft, and like mousse, and as I eat more, the salt flavour builds up, to a kind of sour vinegar like when you get a mouthful of water at the beach, that unpleasant taste in your mouth.

I never really got used to the grains in this chocolate, and I don't like the salt flavour because it's too strong. I have satisfied my curiousity and I definitely wont buy this again.

Kabaya Pudding Chocolates カバヤ なめらかプリンチョコ


Pudding or プリン is a very popular dessert in Japan and is usually what they refer to as Creme Caramel. I am quite a fan of it myself, so I didn't hesitate in grabbing this box of purin chocolates in Yamanaka recently for ¥118.

On the box it says that these are better eaten straight from the fridge, I can see why as I had them in the cupboard and they melted quite easily, even just being on the table.

They are small and round, about 2.5 cm in diameter. There are 8 individually wrapped chocolates in the box, which is so-so value, I guess these are more aimed at kids, who have smaller mouths and to them, 8 small pieces would seem a lot.

The top is milk chocolate but is a little bit darker than the average milk chocolate colour. The bottom is a yellow coloured white chocolate which smells like caramel.

Biting into the chocolate, the outside stays firm and the middle is a light yellow mousse with lots of caramel flavour. The milk chocolate has a distinct chocolate flavour and the yellow chocolate has a caramel and slight coconut oil flavour. Combined with the caramel mousse inside, they all blend in well together.

I can't really say this is an accurate pudding flavour. The body of a creme caramel is custard, and this chocolate lacked any custard flavour at all. It seemed to focus mainly on the caramel flavour, usually a small part of the actual pudding, but no less apparent.

I am sure kids would enjoy this for the flavour and appearance just as much. I would buy these again, as they were a lighthearted and fun way to enjoy chocolate, and a nice change from the usual flavours around.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Calpis Sour Chuhai カルピス・サワー チュウハイ

Browsing Yamanaka Frante I found a whole aisle full of Chuhai. Chuhai is an alcoholic drink, usually made from vodka and juice or soda, the traditional type is made with shochu mixed with lemon, from which it gets the name chuhai - a mixture of shochu and highball.

A whole variety of flavours were packed into the shelves - peach, grapefruit, lemon, plum, pineapple, orange, grape, mango, apple, and the list goes on.

I chose one that interestingly had a soft drink mixed with it - Calpis - a kind of yoghurt flavoured uncarbonated drink. Because this Calpis has 5% Vodka mixed in, it is called Calpis Sour.

The can itself contains 350ml. On a further inspection of the ingredients I found that there is also filtered water, hence the image of the ice on the bottom of the can, I guess it is meant to be a similar feeling to "on the rocks".

When I opened the can I couldn't actually smell any alcohol, only the faintly sweet lemon-y smell of regular Calpis. The first taste is quite like regular calpis, smooth, sweet, lemony, with hints of yoghurt, but right at the end the strength of the alcohol kicks in, and I don't think it is sour, but it is quite strong and rather unpleasant.

The flavour emerges on the top of my mouth and the middle of my tongue, the real strength of the vodka and the lemon notes of the Calpis. I feel my cheeks going warm, and extending down my throat. This is strong for me, but I am not sure why. I usually drink mixed drinks, as in Vodka and juice, usually around 5%, so I can't really fathom why this rubs me the wrong way.

Maybe Japanese Vodka has a different taste to what I am used to. I definitely wouldn't buy this again, mostly because of the strong taste of alcohol at the end. It is not a drink that is mixed well, rather it is soft drink at the beginning and alcohol at the end. I also don't get any notion of the 'sour' mentioned in the name of the drink.

This wasn't even good as a novelty drink, though I am sure some people out there enjoy it. Sadly I am not one of them.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Natchan なっちゃん

I picked up this bottle of Natchan! at the same time as the Vitamin Water in my previous post.

It too, was only ¥98. The front of the bottle claims that there is Vitamin C and 20% juice. This is the original orange flavour and is a childhood favourite of Yasu's. I kind of feel guilty having it while he is not here!

The side of the bottle states that Florida Oranges were used for the juice contained in Natchan!
There are 39 kilocalories, and 16~60mg of Vitamin C.

I love the bottle for it's cuteness. The smell when I open the lid is kind of a very weak orange scent, but when I take a sip I get the taste of freshly squeezed oranges, some sweetness and kind of tart. The aftertaste is a slight watered down flavour, the majority of the taste of orange is when it is in my mouth. It is not overly sweet either, like some juice can be. I'm not so much a fan of the aftertaste, I've never liked watered down orange juice. I do like the taste of the drink though. It reminds me of sunday morning, drinking freshly squeezed juice with eggs on toast.

This is a great children's drink, and great to revisit as I haven't had it for over 5 years. I am not sure if the taste may have changed since then, but I like it the same as I did then.

If anything, if you don't like the taste, I am sure you will like the bottle, I give it 10 points for cuteness!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Suntory Vitamin Water ビタミンウオーター

I picked this up at Apita this evening for ¥98. It was on special, I am not sure how much it usually costs. I am currently in Japan for 2 months so I have lots of different snacks and beverages to hand, and I intend to make the most of it for my blog while I am here.

I was looking for Volvic actually, but because there wasn't any, I chose this vitamin water because I thought it would be similar to a flavoured water. I wasn't wrong.

On the website, it boasts that there is Vitamin C, B Complex, and Royal Jelly contained in this bottle of water. There is also Lemon juice (the second ingredient on the ingredient list) and it is a major player as far as taste goes.

At first taste it is like a lemon cheesecake taste, strong at first, but then subsides to more of a lemon juice flavour and then becomes weaker, like watered down juice. I like the flavour, and unlike other flavoured water, it doesn't make me feel thirsty.

I drank this at room temperature and it was very refreshing. I don't feel any different, even for all those vitamins it contains, but I really enjoyed the flavour and the taste. I guess if you drink this every day you may show some improvement, I am not really sure.

As a refreshing drink in the middle of a humid, sticky summer, this goes down a treat, and I will definitely be buying it again.

The bottle states this has 20 kilocalories, 200mg of Vitamin C, and 0.3mg of Vitamin b6.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mango Pudding Kit Kat マンゴプリンキットカット

This flavour was released singularly or in a bag of mini's.

There is a mark on the packet that says these are better to eat when they have been refridgerated, but as it is winter here now, the weather is already quite cold so I think it should be ok.

The chocolate is a very fake orange colour, looks like the cheese in a McDonald's hamburger to me. The smell that is wafting up is very strong and does have a very true scent of mango, but with some chemical undertones.
The first bite into this reminded me of pineapple and a very sour taste at the back of my mouth. There are parts of it that taste mango, and at other times also a coconut flavour, mostly in the cream between the wafers.

I like mango as a fruit, but I'm not a fan of it in this Kit Kat. It just tastes too much of other non-related flavours and chemicals, and less like a fruit. I found this made me really thirsty, and the endnotes were very sweet.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sports Drink Kit Kat スポーツドリンク味キットカット

This Kit Kat was launched to support Asian Soccer and is sponsored by the JFA. On the back of the box it explains about how playing soccer makes kids bright and healthy and gives them dreams to aim for.

That explains why the flavour is Sports Drink, though exactly which sports drink we don't know. The back of the packet states that there is lemon powder and vitamin c contained in the chocolate.

The smell of this Kit Kat reminds me of rare cheesecake. It has a lemon-cheese scent.

When I bit into the Kit Kat I could taste the lemon immediately. There was a light lemon taste in the white chocolate, and bursts of sour lemon in the cream between the wafers. There seems to be a bitter taste at the base of my throat after eating this Kit Kat leading me to suspect there was grapefruit flavour in there, though I can't find it on the ingredient list, so maybe some chemical bitterness perhaps.

In all, I liked this Kit Kat, but not happy with the aftertaste. I probably wouldn't eat it again based solely on that. I don't think it's anything very special at least, and doesn't even remind me of a sports drink to be honest.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Festival Hi-Chew Toffee Apple

I just received a parcel of yummy treats from Japan and this was in the box. I was disappointed to find that this Hi-Chew is smaller than the average packet, and has only 7 pieces.

As a kid, Toffee Apples were one of my favourite sweets. Whever we went to the local vegetable shop there was always a big tray of toffee apples, one for 50 cents, and my mum would buy me one.

So seeing this Toffee Apple flavour or what Japanese refer to as Ringo Ame (Apple sweets) made me feel abit nostalgic for the old days.

Each pieces is a light pink colour on the outside and white in the centre, and has pieces of chewy toffee inside. From the outside there is the very same smell of the toffee on the outside of the apple. Oh the memories!

Biting into the Hi-Chew is a strange experience because on one hand there is the soft chewy chew, followed by a big crunch as I bite down on a piece of toffee. The flavour of the Hi-Chew is quite tart, like a green apple, and the toffee brings the sweetness.

I really like the flavour combination, but I'm not so sure about the bits of toffee. It takes some getting used to, crunching down on those toffee bits. I think kids would definitely love this because of the change in texture, but as a long-time Hi-chew lover, I just can't get my head around the crunch part and I would prefer it if there was two flavours but without the crunchiness.

Still, I am glad I tried this, so I could see what it was like. It gave me a nice trip down memory lane, if nothing else.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

UCC Coffee With Milk


This coffee by UCC has been around for years, but I've never actually bought it until now. As I'm currently having a coffee fad, it stood out to me in the drinks section of my local Japanese supermarket and as it was on special it made the decision for me.

I love the blurb on the front of the can -

UCC: The pioneer maker of the canned liquid coffee in Japan. Come on, and enjoy its original taste.

The can holds 337ml. The ingredients are sugar, skim milk powder, coffee, whole dried milk. Even though the coffee is second last on the list it is quite prominent in the drink.

The colour of the coffee is a very dark colour, like when not much milk is added, even though milk is higher than coffee on the ingredient list. I'm glad this coffee has sugar in it, it's not really sweet but sweet enough not to be too bitter.

I've never been a fan of coffee in a can mostly because Japanese companies tend to make it too strong for me, but this coffee by UCC is something I could drink quite regularly.

I like the can itself, the simplicity of the design, the price, and most important the taste. I think quite often Japanese drink makers rely on package design and advertising quirks to sell their products rather than the actual content and what it tastes like. Fortunately UCC coffee has stood the test of time and is still here to provide us with a refreshing coffee that doesn't need silly advertising campaigns to promote it.

So yes, I can now say, I'm a fan of coffee in a can but only if it's made by UCC!

Friday, August 7, 2009

栗入りどら焼き (Sweet red bean and chestnut filled pancakes)

I found these were half price at the local Japanese supermarket and snapped them up.

They are what the Japanese call "dorayaki", small round pancakes filled with red bean, soy bean or chestnut paste. There are 5 individally wrapped cakes in a plastic tray inside the bag.

These have red bean paste and little bits of crushed chestnuts poking through.

The pancake itself is dark brown and when broken in half is quite thick, but you can also see the air bubbles of where the cake has risen, so it's nice and fluffy. The filling is really generous too and is the right amount of paste to cake ratio.

The cake was dry enough but not too dry, so that with the bean together as a sandwich it became a nice moist texture without being too sloppy. The main taste of this dorayaki is red bean, and only by biting down on a piece of chestnut or actually picking out a piece and eating it, can I really taste it in there.

This was great for me as I'm not a huge chestnut fan but I love azuki, so it was nice to try something a little bit different for me while being within my comfort zone.

These were great served with a cup of tea, my husband and I really enjoyed them. It was a nice sweet without being overly sweet.

The maker - Marukyo - make other such dorayaki treats that I have also seen around, so maybe I will try another type from them next time.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Triple Berry Kit Kat (Wishing On A Star)


I bought this a month ago but only just opened it today, though it is still very fresh.

Not sure why but on the top of the box it says "hoshi ni negai wo" which is the equivalent to "wishing on a star" in English. I guess it must have been some kind of promotion.

This Kit Kat is Tripleberry, and the box has an image of strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries. There is juice powder of all three berries in the chocolate, though how much I'm not sure, as for major ingredients they are pretty far down the list.

The Kit Kat itself is white chocolate with pink swirls. It smells very much like strawberry.

The first bite is very florally. It almost tastes like rose, or what I would imagine a rose would taste like. There are some very sweet notes, and some sour bursts.

I can't really tell any of the flavours apart, it's one amalgamation of berry. I can't distinguish which is which. The chocolate on the outside is quite sweet and contains the sour bursts, while the pink cream sandwiched between the wafers has a stronger berry flavour, more like strawberry.

For an all-round berry flavour it's quite good, but if you were hoping to taste all the flavours singularly, you would be disappointed.

I enjoyed this bar because while it was sweet, it wasn't tooth-achingly so. If they ever reinvent this I would like to try it with a milk chocolate coating.