Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chocoball Milk Pudding チョコボール牛乳プリン味

Kyoro-chan stowed away in my hand luggage and took a trip down under, or that's what Yasu would like me to think. More likely he stuffed it in my suitcase when I wasn't looking, in order to chomp on it later.

This box is back to the original style, unlike the recent flavours that have a tuna-can like opening. I wish Morinaga would make up it's mind about packaging.

Milk Pudding is not something I have ever heard of in Australia. In Japan, the land of pudding or "purin", it is one of the many popular flavours, in good company with mango pudding, almond pudding, and caramel pudding.

It's another white chocolate Chocoball, how different could it be from Yoghurt or Cream Cheese?

The balls themselves are rather small, in fact smaller than usual, round, white, and glossy. They smell faintly of vanilla and musk. It's a pleasant scent, but more suitable for perfume than chocolate.
The chocolate on the outside is creamy, only slightly sweet, has some taste of white chocolate, but the creaminess is the overall flavour, like a powdered milk flavour mixed with real milk. The let-down with this chocoball though is that because the ball itself is smaller than usual, and the biscuit is about 80% of the ball, the chocolate coating is too small to really get a big flavour hit.

You have to eat a handfull of these all at once to even get a vague sense of the milk pudding flavour. Obviously it wasn't intended for me, Yasu bought it for himself, and he gives it a big thumbs up, but then, he would eat anything Chocoball...he's a dedicated fan.

Big on flavour, these are not. Good for children and husbands, yes.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hokkaido Condensed Milk Caramel 北海道練乳キャラメル

It's fair to say I'm on a bit of a 練乳 (condensed milk) kick at the moment. Since coming back from the land of condensed milk flavoured everything (Hokkaido), I've re-ignited my passion for the creamy white substance.

Oh, I've always been a fan of condensed milk. I remember eating it out of the can by spoonful when I was a kid, and before even going to Japan, Yasu and I enjoyed the odd squeeze from a tube of condensed milk we kept in the cupboard, which mysteriously disappeared while I was away in Japan - the mouse, err Yasu consumed it all by himself the 練乳 guts!

I saturated myself with condensed milk icecream bars, chocolate bars, drinks, and lollies, but I picked up one last thing before I left. That is, Condensed Milk Caramel, from the Wine factory actually, it was only 105 yen and I figured, it was a worthwhile buy because I knew that we were both condensed milk junkies by then.

The box has 18 pieces and comes in the same format as other caramels by the manufacturer - Dounan, which by the way, a look on their website shows this as ranking #1 in the top 3! See! Just goes to show Japanese people are junkies like me :)

Anyway, so what do they actually taste like? Condensed milk, silly! They really do taste like Japanese condensed milk, they even have that really creamy taste, and slight coconut flavour.

The caramel is quite soft and easy to chew, and quickly goes into a soft pliable texture with chewing. It has the same flavour throughout, it's really yummy!! It's not too sweet either, kind of in the middle of the scale of sweetness. The box says they used 100% Hokkaido condensed milk too, so you kind of get that feeling of being transported to green leafy fields while you're chewing on this caramel. The feel of the wind in your hair. The smell of cows...ahh.

Whoops, got carried away abit there. Anyways, this is one extremely good chew!! I suggest you buy some! :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Umai Vegetable Salad

This is my first foray into the world of savoury Japanese snacks. I have been wanting to branch out more but for some reason I always end up buying sweet snacks, I guess it comes down to my very sweet tooth.

My sister-in-law bought a few of these as part of a bag of goodies she gave us, so I am forcing myself to somewhat gingerly try this flavour - Vegetable Salad.

Now, in Japanese, "umai" means something is very good, so when a food manufacturer uses it of course they are big-noting their products to mean very tasty.

The manufacturer Yaokin, has a very simple website, and they have a product catalogue you can download.

The snack in question is a long puffy savoury tube, abit like a cheezel but longer. Like one mega cheezel, I guess. The name of the flavour - vegetable salad - is a bit confusing to me really. It's either a vegetable, or a salad, unless it's a salad of vegetables...I guess?

Anyway, taking the tube out of the wrapper, it appears to be a long, orange tube of puffiness with green specks all over it. It's quite oily (the oil leaked onto the paper below), and it smells like my husband's dirty socks. No, really. It's quite gross.

Biting down into the tube, it has the same texture as a cheezel, puffy, but easy to bite through. There is some spice in there. It's not too hot, just enough to give flavour. There is alot of flavour sprinkled on the outside, it comes off on my hands.

I can taste some garlic, corn, and tomato. A look at the wrapper reveals potatoes, corn, garlic, cabbage, paprika, parsley. Paprika would have been used to give it the colour, and parsley the green specks.

In all, it's not bad, but it's not umai either. I can't say that I'm really a fan. Though these seem to be geared more towards the younger set, and at 10 or 15 yen each you can't really expect much more than that.

You can check out other reviews of Umai at Japanese Snack Reviews.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Alfort Chocolate Biscuit

These were given to my husband and I as part of a gift pack. I had seen them before but they are the kind of thing I would usually pass over in the supermarket, in favour of a chocolate bar or actual biscuit. I'm not sure when you are supposed to eat these. I would say it is as a small snack in between meals because of the biscuit content, or with a hot drink.

I'm not so much of a chocolate-and-biscuit-together fan, besides the odd Wagon Wheel. These strike me as odd in that the biscuit is on the other side of the chocolate, but it not covered by the chocolate. This is a whole new idea to me, I've certainly never encountered that kind of idea in Australia.

Inside the box is a gold foil package, which opens up to reveal a tray of 2 x 3 cm rectangular milk chocolates with an image of a ship imprinted on it. The website doesn't give any clue about what the ship means so I am guessing it's only an image.

It does say however, that the biscuit is made from whole wheat flour, basically a digestive, and fragrant milk chocolate, and is a perfect combination of the two.

The milk chocolate smells sweet, but tastes alot darker than it appears. It has those bitter notes that dark chocolate has, and if I hadn't read the package I would say this was dark chocolate. The biscuit is slightly sweet and very much the same as an average wheat biscuit. Both singularly not very exciting.

When eaten together, the flavour seems to take on an almost malty quality. Underneath the bitter chocolate is the humble sweetness and grainy goodness of the biscuit, a good match as far as I'm concerned. I really like the texture of the two combined, the bitterness of the chocolate is matched by the sweetness of the biscuit.

I didn't think these would be a winner, but I was wrong. These are a surprisingly great little mini snack for on the go. Abit more filling than the average Japanese chocolate bar too.

Alfort is something I could definitely see myself eating again in the future, if I come across them.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hokkaido Butter Shio Candy 北海道バター塩飴

The 100 yen stores in Japan are popular for the variety of goods you can buy there, all at a low price and great quality. Most 100 yen stores also have a corner selling snack foods and limited grocery items. I found these in a Daiso 100 yen store in Obihiro, among a wide variety of Japanese candy bags.

I had never seen these before but because of my love of all things Hokkaido, and Japan's obsession with salty candy/snacks, I decided that I would satisfy my curiosity by buying them.

The candies are made by Meito who appear to make candy, chocolate, teas, and icecreams. It's not a company I have ever come across before, but looking on their website I found quite a few other candy bags that I saw in the same 100 yen store as I bought these. They seem to be a cheaper candy option.

The salt used in this candy is stated to come from the Sea of Okhotsk. They also have table salt, sweeteners, Hokkaido butter, Hokkaido condensed milk, and b carotin, and the bag weighs 90g.

As per usual Japanese candy manufacturers each candy is individually wrapped, this candy is in a clear bag with the name in white. Each candy is small 1cm x 0.5cm, pale yellow and in a rounded rectangular shape. It has a small dent in the top.

It doesn't really smell like anything in particular. The first taste is slightly lemon and sweet. Yes, lemon. I don't know why that is. A little bit of salt emerges, and a buttery flavour also, but the lemon flavour is still present.

As I begin to suck the candy more, the buttery flavour gets stronger, and so does the salt. There is a slight sweetness but overall it is more butter and salt now than lemon or sugar flavours, which is good. The flavours are not big and bold, they are quite mild. This is a candy more for Japanese tastes, and is probably not suited to non-Japanese palates. I feel as if I am missing out when I eat this candy. I really expect it to develop into a full on butterscotch flavour, but it doesn't.

It was good for a look, obviously it didn't break the bank at 100 yen for a whole bag, and I will probably eat the rest of these, but, I wouldn't recommend them if you like bolder tastes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Crunky Matcha Shake 抹茶のシェーキ

This was a gift from my sister-in-law upon our departure from Japan. She handed us a bag chock-full of Japanese snacks and goodies to eat on the train ride (15 hours) back to the airport. We dutifully munched our way through some of the snacks but couldn't finish them all. I was able to bring the rest back with me, and this is one of the treats that survived. The chocolate with the slightly engrish name - Crunky.

Its called Matcha Shake, and the image on the front must be meant to be a shake, but it looks more like a mousse or a very thick thick-shake.

The chocolate inside is in a long rectangular block and is matcha green. It also smells very much like matcha used at traditional tea ceremonies.

As you can see in the photo, the back of the block is full of rice crisps. The top of the block is molded into little rectangles that are meant to make it easy to break off; unfortunately mine did not break along the lines but along the corner.

The chocolate is quite thin, so the majority of chocolate is taken up by the bottom layer of rice crisps, with only a very little amount of chocolate by itself on the top.

Each bite is a satisfying crunch of crisps, exactly what it is named for. The chocolate, although it smells alot like matcha, tastes anything but. The most apparent flavour is the rice crispies, and then a vanilla flavour, which I think also comes from the crispies.

There is no real matcha flavour in this chocolate except right at the end, a slight bitterness, but only momentarily. There is no depth of flavour in this bar. I'm really disappointed because I expected much more. It's not really even sweet, but I might prefer it if it was, just for the flavour. It's like eating crispy cardboard really.

The box is pretty, the smell is nice, but that is as far as it goes, unfortunately.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Balanceup Maple Cream

Unlike Australia, Japan doesn't seem to sell a broad range of muesli bars, that is, healthy-style bars made from muesli or bran that are good as meal replacements, breakfast, or snacks on the go. Most supermarkets are big on these Balanceup bars that come in regular flavours and cream filled flavours.

This was released for Autumn in Japan and features maple cream sandwiched between two bran biscuits. It is a 2 pack, and both cream filled biscuits are wrapped in their own packets inside the main bag.

I was surprised to find this is made by Asahi rather than Kelloggs or some other well known breakfast cereal company. After looking around I did find some bran cookies in a bag that looked very similar to this one made by Kelloggs. The only difference is they did not have cream, but the flavour was also maple infused.

In Japan, a bag of these would set you back around 158 yen.

Opening up the small bag the scent of Maple hits my nose immediately. The bran biscuits themselves seem to be somewhat fragile, and crack easily, meaning that one corner of mine has broken off.

The cream to biscuit ratio is such that there are 2 parts biscuit and one part cream, but this is good because you get a good amount of crunchy bran biscuit and enough cream for a taste. The cream is quite sweet, so I am glad that the amount of cream in the biscuit is what it is.

I like the bran biscuit, but only for the texture, the definite crunch when biting into it and chewing. It has quite a few grains and seeds mixed in which give it such a great texture. However there is something about the texture which I also don't like is that it is quite powdery, and leaves a funny feeling on my tongue and the roof of my mouth.

The flavour is quite good, an authentic maple flavour, not too sweet, and definitely something I would want to eat at breakfast time or as a snack on the go. The crunchiness is a definite winner for this bar. If it wasn't for the powdery feeling in my mouth after eating this would be something I could see myself eating on a regular basis.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mobaccho! Strawberry


The Japanese snack world is going in new directions. Not only can you have a takeaway cup of tea or coffee but you now can have your chocolate snacks in a cup for on the go.

I thought the cup is quite unique so I picked it up while shopping at Feel supermarket. It was ¥128.

They seem to be little rounded biscuit pieces covered in strawberry chocolate. These have butter, shortening, strawberry paste, milk seasoning, and malt extract in them.

The best I can say about these are they taste exactly like strawberry Pocky, but in small pieces. One little piece doesn't have much taste but handfuls at a time recreate a Pocky moment for me.

It is a unique idea, but the flavour is somewhat unoriginal. I only saw a strawberry flavour in the supermarket, and a look on the Glico website reveals no information about this snack. If you can find it, please let me know.

These were a bit of a let-down for me, and unless you want chopped up pieces of pocky in a cup, then I wouldn't recommend them.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Yamazaki Hokkaido Cheesecake


This was another impulse buy from the supermarket bakery. The image of Hokkaido on the top of the cheesecake just caught my eye. I am not a big fan of cheese but I love cheesecake, how weird is that?

This is one of those cakes that is made by another company, and sealed in plastic for longer shelf life.

The packet says that refridgerating this prior to eating is the best way, so that is what I did.

Upon opening the packet and sniffing, it smells very much like a regular rare cheesecake. The texture is very soft like a light airy cake and can be easily broken off with fingers. There are little bubbles, very tiny, inside showing the 'air-in'.

The taste is very mild, the cheese flavour very underwhelming. I can taste milk, a vague cheese flavour, and a kind of madeira cake taste. This is very much like a madeira cake to me, more than a cheesecake. It is not really very sweet.

As it so happens there is only cheese cream, milk, eggs, and shortening in this cake. So no cream cheese, only cheese cream. Which is what? I couldn't find anything even on google.

As a cake that uses Hokkaido as it's selling point, I am very disappointed. This is a really unworthy representation of the beautiful, creamy baked goods that usually come from the island, especially as the back of the package said it was made in Tokyo.

A big disappointment, don't throw your money away on this, buy some madeira cake, it probably tastes better anyway.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sapporo Melon Cream Soda メロンクリームソーダ

The first night I came to Japan, we went to KFC for dinner. Imagine my surprise when I ordered a set and was offered melon cream soda as a possible drink choice! I accepted, and it was really yum. Other options were Qoo, Pepsi, or Fanta.

I bought this bottle of Sapporo Melon Cream Soda at Jusco supermarket, it was the first time I had seen a bottle of melon soda in Japan not at a restaurant.

The colour of the soda is an amazing melon-green colour and the front of the bottle has a scoop of icecream on top of what is supposed to be melon soda. It's quite cute.

So this bottle has been in the fridge for the last week because I really haven't felt in the mood to drink it, with so many other drink options available. Cue today when I am packing to go to Hokkaido and remember that I have a soda in the fridge.

The first sip is a let-down and I know this is not going to be as good as the one I got in my meal set at KFC. The overall flavour is lime. It tastes like lime cordial or squash (those concentrates you mix with water), and kind of like the aftertaste of eating icecream. It is not overly sweet, but the aftertaste really makes me thirsty.

There is no melon taste at all to this drink, and a mild cream soda flavour. On closer inspection of the ingredients, melon is not listed at all, only grape extract, milk, flavouring and colouring.

I did the right thing in ignoring this drink, and should have kept on ignoring it! It is truly yuck and I wouldn't buy it again. I would love to know what brand of melon soda they sell at KFC, if anyone knows, please enlighten me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Chocoball Cream Cheese チョコボールクリームチーズ


I found this box of Chocoball in Lawson, and I thought it was the salt flavour as the box looks almost the same, but on closer inspection I found it was Cream Cheese.

I have never been a big fan of cheese but I thought for my blog and because I have a history of reviewing Chocoball I would try it out.

Unfortunately as it was a really hot and humid day when I bought it, the little balls melted on the way home and stuck together. I don't think it affects the flavour though, just the shape.

This box also opens like a tunacan and can be resealed by tucking the tab back into the slit.

The chocolate on the outside is white chocolate and smells extremely sweet. It tastes like sweetened condensed milk, exactly like the Japanese version, with a little bit of saltiness.

The chocolate is actually softer than usual, and after sucking it off, I find that the biscuit in the middle is just a regular biscuit with no flavour. So where is the cream cheese flavour then?? Oh, am I mistaken, there is no cream cheese flavour, it is just made with cream cheese for the softer outside texture. Though the ingredients does list 'natural cheese' as 6th on the ingredient list, though does not say anything about cream cheese. So thoroughly confusing or misleading.

In any case, despite all that, it really is a very tasty treat and I am in love with the flavour. I will definitely be taking a few of these home to enjoy at a later date.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Full of Vegetables Kit Kat 充実野菜キットカット


This Kit Kat was released on the 24th of August and I only just saw it today in Ito Yokado for ¥105.

The Japanese characters 充実野菜 (or Juujitsu Yasai) means "full of vegetables", and has the same name of the same drink by Itoen.

The ingredient lists boasts apple, carrot, grape, lemon, celery, capsicum, asparagus, chinese cabbage, kale, parsley, cabbage, herbs, radish, and spinach. The back of the box states that the vegetable powder is in the cream between the wafers, and the apple and carrot flavour is in the chocolate coating.

The colour of the white chocolate is a bright orange colour that reminds me of McDonald's fake cheese. The smell of apple wafts up from the chocolate.

Biting into the Kit Kat finger, there is a sweet flavour of apple immediately, but it gives way to a weird chemical flavour that reminds me of something burnt. I can't really detect any carrot flavour in the chocolate, and there is no real sense of vegetables in the cream between the wafers.

I guess for some people this would be a relief, as the actual juice by Itoen is rather strong. For me however I am a little disappointed as I expected the taste the vegetable patch and all I can taste is the apple orchard. Apple is really the only flavour here besides a few chemical overtones.

I really think this would have been better with milk chocolate as the white chocolate is too sweet for a snack that is meant to showcase a health drink. Unless you liked previous versions of the apple kit kat then I wouldn't recommend buying this. It should be called 'full of apples' rather than vegetables.