Monday, March 18, 2013

Kellog's Brown Rice Flake Matcha Milk ケロッグ 玄米フレーク 抹茶ミルク


I purchased this pack of Matcha Milk Brown Rice Flakes at the same time as I purchased my previous review (Brown Sugar & Honey).

As the Brown Sugar & Honey Flakes were very healthy tasting, I was reluctant to taste this Matcha Milk (Green Tea & Milk) variety, so they have sat around on my desk for a while, staring at me every time I turned the computer on.

I finally summoned up the courage to taste them, only to find that they're not that bad. Because they have Matcha powder inside, the texture is a lot better than the Brown Sugar & Honey Flakes. You can really taste the Matcha flavour, and the texture of the powder in there, along with the crunch of the biscuit.

Matcha Milk Flakes don't come across quite as healthy as the Brown Sugar & Honey Flakes do. I could tell it was still cereal based, but the Matcha Milk texture and flavour masked it quite well to the point I felt like I was just eating a savoury snack. There is only a very vague sweetness in this biscuit, when it becomes soft in the mouth, but it seems like there is only grape sugar added and that is in the middle of the list of ingredients so it doesn't play a big part.

Everyone knows I'm a Matcha Freak but I can tell you it didn't make me biased towards this product. I was expecting it to be just as healthy if not worse than the previous review. I was pleasantly surprised to find that healthy doesn't have to be bland.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Kellogg's Brown Rice Flake Brown Sugar & Honey ケロッグ 玄米フレーク 黒糖&ハニー


I was browsing at Japanese snacks on Rakuten when I came across this packet of brown rice flakes made by Kellogg's. Kellogg's are familiar to me as the brand of cereal my son most likes, they make a lot of breakfast foods that are popular in Western countries. I was a little bit surprised to see that they make this kind of snack for the Japanese market and in such a Japanese flavour!

This pack weighs 40g and I'm pretty sure it's just one serving. Brown sugar, which in Japanese is pronounced "kokuto" and originates from Okinawa, is made by boiling down sugar cane until it has a deep rich brown colour. In Okinawa it's known as a health food and lots of people take it to ward off fatigue. Added into this mix is honey which on the packet it is said to match with the brown sugar very well.

What I thought of as a snack when I purchased it, is actually a type of breakfast food and on the back of the packet they refer to it as "cereal". I'm not sure if Kellogg's want you to eat it with milk, with a cup of tea, or by itself. But as they refer to it as a "biscuit", I think I might just eat it that way.

Opening the packet there is a strong smell of molasses and a sweet scent. Each biscuit is quite flat,
and measures 3cm long x 2.5cm wide. There are 14 biscuits inside. When I bite into a biscuit there is a satisfying snap and crunch. The first thing I taste is oats, and sure enough when I look on the ingredients list there is oat flour used.

The big punch of brown sugar and honey flavour that I expected is not there. The brown sugar is only apparent right at the very end, with a vague sweetness that must be the honey. The smell of the brown sugar is actually stronger than the flavour in this biscuit which is a disappointment. The oat flour here is the star of the show, and although I don't mind it, it reminds me more of a muesli bar than what it is supposed to be.

It does taste healthy, so if that is what Kellogg's were going for then they nailed it. It just doesn't live up to the image on the pack of a big pile of brown sugar covered in oozing honey. It's only a vague representation of that.

I must admit, I ate the whole pack. They were somewhat moorish, I do like oats, and I don't think anyone else in my house will eat them. Personally, I would have to eat these while having a drink as they made me quite thirsty. I guess a nice cold glass of milk or a hot cup of tea would do the trick.

If you have tried these, what did you think? 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fujiya Strawberry Shortcake Chocolates 不二家 苺ショートケーキチョコ


I've been saving this box of chocolates. I received it from a friend in Japan a while back but I held onto it because the box is so pretty.

These chocolates are based on Japanese style strawberry shortcakes which are usually made from a soft sponge cake with layers of strawberries and cream. I find a Japanese shortcake to be much less sweet than a Western version.

Japanese style Strawberry Shortcake courtesy of Google

They are made by Fujiya - a well known sweets manufacturer in Japan. Their mascot is Peko-chan - a girl in pigtails with her tongue hanging out the side of her mouth.

The top of the box is one big photograph featuring shortcakes. In the middle is an image of what the chocolate is supposed to look like. A biscuit layer on the bottom, followed by cream, then a layer of strawberry, covered in milk chocolate with a fleur-de-lis imprinted into the top.

Inside the box, each chocolate is encased in a bright strawberry red packet, there are 9 in the box.

The chocolate is quite a good size, 3cm diameter, and 1cm high. It smells milk chocolate mixed with strawberry. Biting into it the first thing I tasted was strawberry, but it wasn't very sweet. In fact the second flavour I tasted was the chocolate, and although it looks like milk, it tastes quite dark. The chocolate was much stronger than the strawberry so it was overpowered. In regards to texture, the biscuit on the bottom is crumbly, so biting into it there is the taste of strawberry and a texture of crumbly biscuit, then the dark chocolate. I couldn't really taste the cream element, that was somewhere in there with the strawberry and probably contributes more to the texture than the flavour.

Although it didn't have nearly as much strawberry in there as I expected, it's actually very accurate to what a Japanese style shortcake is like (minus the chocolate). I find the sweetness in a shortcake is downplayed, to the point of being non-existent.

If you find strawberry flavoured chocolate, or chocolates in general are too sweet for your tastes, then I'm sure you would like these. I would like these when I'm dieting because they don't make you crave for more. Each chocolate will set you back 38.8 calories, which I think is pretty good.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Caramel Nuts Tirol (Premium) キャラメルナツ チロル


So here is my last blog about Tirol for now. I've managed to review quite a lot of different Tirol flavours during 2012 and that's all thanks to a very kind friend in Tokyo who sent them over to me during the year. So I'd like to take this opportunity to thank her so much for her kindness, not just for the Tirol and all the other snacks she sent me but for her friendship and support. Thank you so much S! :)

Caramel sounds pretty good and it's one of those combinations that is used over and over by confectionery makers the world over. Just think of Snickers and Picnic for starters. 

When I opened this Tirol I couldn't smell anything but a sweet scent. However when I bit into it I could smell Snickers! It smells just like it!! The chocolate on the outside is a caramel colour and there is a layer of dark chocolate on the bottom followed by a biscuit piece, peanuts, caramel and then chocolate. There is a lot going on in this chocolate, that's for sure!

Sadly, the flavour just wasn't as good as a Snickers. The chocolate and caramel were just so sweet, that even though the nuts were plentiful, it just wasn't that good. I really feel like the peanuts needed some salt to balance out the sweetness, then we could have had that salty peanut butter and chocolate combination going on.

I'm kind of sad that this one didn't live up to my expectations either. I usually really enjoy the Tirol chocolates. I will be looking forward to trying some new ones in 2013.

If you have tried some Tirol chocolates this year, what were your favourite?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Choc Banana Tirol (Premium) チョコバナナ チロル


Sorry for my absence (again). Christmas happened, and then New Years, and life has been so hectic. I've just gotten some free time to blog and I thought I should get around to blogging about two more Tirol chocolates that I have.

This one is Choc Banana and the image on the wrapping shows some fireworks in the distance and a big banana covered by chocolate in the foreground. It's really quite cute. This is a premium Tirol so it's a bit larger than the usual size.

The chocolate is a banana yellow colour on the outside but doesn't really smell of banana at all. I can only smell a sweet chocolate scent. On the inside of the Tirol is a layer of dark chocolate on the bottom, followed by some white marshmallow sandwiched in the middle, then a thin layer of chocolate coloured banana flavoured sauce followed by the banana coloured chocolate.

The dark chocolate inside doesn't look really dark but it has quite a bitter taste to it, so much so that it overpowers the banana sauce. It's only really after swallowing that I get the taste of the banana sauce but the dark chocolate lingers on my tongue for a lot longer.

Overall I was disappointed. This could have been an amazing Tirol if not for the bitter dark chocolate. Who puts dark chocolate on their bananas anyway? I don't know why the marshmallow was in the middle either, it would have been better with a banana mousse or even a banana marshmallow. I'm sad, I was expecting so much more.

Will my next Tirol be a winner? Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Yuraku Black Thunder Cocoa Cookie Crunch ユーラク ブラックサンダー ココアクッキークランチ


I first learned about Yuraku's Black Thunder Bar when I reviewed the Yuraku x Tirol in May of this year (2012).

This bar strikes me as a kind of mix-up of an Oreo, Malteasers and some chocolate all mixed together and made into a slab. It is called Black Thunder for one reason, it literally is black inside, with little bits of white biscuit pieces scattered through it.

Biting into it is like being in heaven, if you're a cookie lover like I am. It's so crunchy, and it's like eating crushed chocolate biscuits coated with chocolate. The biscuit inside is so chocolatey and rich. There is a strong hit of cocoa with every mouthful.

I'm really surprised this exists in the Japanese market because they are not really known for their strong, slap-you-in-the-face flavours, they seem to prefer more subtle tastes. This is a chocolate bar that says HELLO! when you eat it.

The only downside is it's quite crumbly and breaks easily.

This is a very simple's just chocolate on chocolate, there are no other flavours. So if you're a chocolate fan then you'll love this. It's the perfect size really, because it's so rich. You wouldn't want any more than this 22 gram pack at one time.

Have a look at the Yuraku website here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tirol Ikinari Dango [Kumamoto] Sweet Potato チロル 熊本いきなり団子 さつまいも・紫いも


I heard about this regional pack of Tirol on the Tirol Facebook page and a friend in Tokyo was kind enough to track it down and send some to me.

This Tirol is based around a Japanese sweet or "wagashi" called Ikinari Dango - a steamed bun with chunks of sweet potato in the dough, with anko (red bean) in the centre, a local specialty of Kumamoto.

The black bear featured on the wrapper is the mascot for Kumamoto and his name is Kumamon. "Kuma" is Japanese for bear.

I have to tell you right now. I LOVE sweet potato. It's one of my favourite foods. It's also low GI so I practically lived on it during pregnancy. I used to steam it and eat it as a snack. My favourite of all time is Murasaki-imo (purple) but it's hard to find in Australia, and when I can find it, it's expensive.

I'm happy to be able to try both types of this Tirol. So lets start.

Satsuma-imo (Orange)

The chocolate on the outside is orangey-yellow and when I put it to my nose there is a strong smell of sweetness and something earthy. In the middle there are two layers, on the bottom is a dark yellow jelly and on the top is a red-brown paste. I'm certain the jelly is representing the sweet potato and the paste is the red bean component. I can really taste the red bean in this chocolate and it's very accurate in flavour and quite sweet. Unfortunately it kind of overruns the sweet potato which is a bit too subtle. The last flavour I can taste after eating is still the red bean.

Murasaki-imo (Purple)

This is quite pretty because it's a lavender coloured chocolate covering a white inside. There is only one layer inside this chocolate, a yellow jelly surrounded by a white chocolate which I think is meant to be the sweet potato. This has a much stronger flavour and the sweet potato is more apparent. There is no red bean to drown it out, so the flavour is loud and clear. There is some earthiness to this chocolate and I think some people might be put off by it. I really like it though.

I did like both of these chocolates even though the Satsuma-imo was not as strong on the sweet potato as I expected. I'm a big fan of red bean so I did enjoy this one a lot. The Murasaki-imo was bigger on the sweet potato with the exclusion of the red bean.

I've never actually tried Ikinari Dango but I can say after having these two Tirol I really want to try the real thing! Maybe I need to take a trip to Kumamoto! ;)

I would have to say I liked the Satsuma-imo the best, simply because I like the red bean. If you get a chance to try this I would very much recommend it. The colours and inside layers remind me very much of eating Japanese sweets so even if you're not usually a fan of these flavours I recommend them just for the experience and nostalgia :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Takoyaki Caramel たこ焼きキャラメル


A friend sent this candy to me and I had forgotten about it, until I was searching for something and knocked over a box and it fell out. I pulled it out and thought I should taste it to see if it's as good as the real thing (haha).

This box of Takoyaki Caramel has 20 individually wrapped square pieces inside, and it's not a very appealing colour. It looks like someone has blended a takoyaki ball and poured it in a square mold. Hub wasn't too keen to try this as I had previously bought Genghis Khan Caramel a couple of years ago (I reviewed on a former blog) and he wasn't keen on it (but I loved it).

Aside from it's unappealing colour, it has absolutely no smell, and is quite hard. Biting into it I immediately get a taste of ginger, followed by brown sauce and onion. The ginger is the strongest flavour of all and gets quite hot on the tongue. I can see where they were going with this but there is really no taste of tako (octopus) in this which is quite a shame really (but I guess it's hard to replicate).

Hub said it was so-so, I guess he felt that the star of the show was missing so the flavour was a bit wishy washy. I'm not a huge fan of it, but I don't want to waste the 18 pieces left so I guess I'll find some friends who would like to be guinea pigs (haha).

It's a novelty item really, so it was good to try it out and see how it measures up, I think it would make a great souvenir from Japan if anything, and probably I would only buy it for that purpose.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chocolate Mint Pocky チョコレート・ミント ポッキー


A good friend in Japan told me about this Chocolate Mint Pocky. She said it was to die for and then she sent me a box of it to try. I was a little bit apprehensive about trying it at first, and I kept it in the box and looked at it every now and then.

You see, when I was pregnant, I had horrible reflux for the first 3 months of the pregnancy and the only thing that really soothed that terrible burning was to drink ant-acid. I'm not sure about other countries, but in Australia, the majority of ant-acids are peppermint flavour. I drank ant-acid about 3 times per day for those first 3 months and after the reflux went away I couldn't even look at anything peppermint flavour without wanting to vomit.

Previous to getting pregnant I was a huge peppermint fan. I used to love the Cadbury block chocolate with the peppermint cream that oozed out the middle. I would devour bags of Peppermint Pods (which they no longer make) and Nestle Peppermint Crisp bars. And now....well I've stayed away from peppermint for the last 2 years.

So this was a challenge. I accepted in the spirit it was offered in, and of course my friend wasn't to know that. I promised myself that when I needed "something" after a really hard day at the office (so to speak) that I would get out this box of Pocky and treat myself and hopefully not overwhelm myself!

This box of Pocky is actually quite heavy even though it only weighs 66 grams, and it's very attractive with turquoise and white stripes.  There are two bags inside, each holding 15 sticks.


Unlike the previously reviewed Peanut Pocky, the amount of chocolate on each stick is decent and more than just a thin coating. Opening the bag I got a very strong whiff of mint and for a minute there I didn't know if I would be ok or not.

Once I took a bite though I realised everything was going to be okay. The chocolate is quite dark, and there is a strong mint flavour that comes through with the slightly bitter flavour of the chocolate. It reminds me of an Arnott's Mint Slice biscuit! To die for, and they don't even remotely taste like ant-acid, which is great!!

I gave my hubby 5 sticks and kept 10 for myself...and I'm happily munching away on these. They're pretty addictive I must say!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Peanut Pocky ピーナツ ポッキー


I'm not such a big fan of eating peanuts but I love peanut butter. In Japan they have Peanut Cream, which is aimed at the Japanese taste and not the same as what we Aussies and Americans like to eat. Peanut cream is very very sweet and it comes in a tube. Whereas American and Australian peanut butter is not sweet but salty and very heavy on the peanut flavour.

This box of Pocky is interesting because it has "Peanuts" written in Japanese on the cover and in English underneath the word "Pocky" it has "nutcream" written in white lettering. I have to be honest and say, it's not the best word to use in English, some might even think it's a little bit lewd.

This pack has two separately wrapped bags of Pocky sticks, all coated with Peanut "nutcream". Each bag has 11 sticks and opening the wrapper the scent is immediately of salt and sweet mixed together with peanuts. Looking on the ingredients list I was surprised to see "peanuts paste" included.

Each stick has a rather thin coating of peanut flavoured chocolate, I would prefer more to be honest. The chocolate is sweet but also has a touch of saltiness which I'm surprised about, and the presence of peanuts is underwhelming, it's quite a reach to actually taste any.

I really like the idea of this Pocky the problem is there is not enough chocolate to build up the peanut flavour in my mouth and I'm left with a taste of plain biscuit after each stick.

I think Pocky were a bit stingy with the nutcream which makes this snack very disappointing.

I don't recommend buying this one unless you like Pocky with a vague peanut flavour and an aftertaste of cardboard. :(