Thursday, October 29, 2009

Koikeya Scorn Cheese Flavour スコーンチーズ味


I discoved these in Japan when I was looking for a cheesy snack. The image on the packaging looks pretty similar to a snack we have in Australia called Twisties. The pack contains 96 grams for 108 yen (about $1.10).

Scorn are primarily made from corn, vegetable oil, cheese powder, buttermilk powder, table salt, whey powder, amino acid, paprika, stevia, wheat, and soy bean flour. I'm surprised that stevia (a sweetener) is so low on the list because these are so sweet!

When you open the package you immediately get a whiff of sweetness with a kind of cheddar cheese smell. The cheese is quite a strong smell but there is alot of sweetness which overpowers the first scent.

Unlike Western "cheese flavour" snacks, these are more sweet than savoury. They are the same light yellow in colour and twisted corn in appearance, except that somehow these taste more like candy than a snack to go with beer.

There is some saltiness in there if you lick the twisted corn. Underneath the first taste of sweetness is the salt, then a light almost cheddar cheese flavour. Even the sweetness is kind of a let-down because it is through sweeteners not through real sugar, so the depth of the sugar flavour is vague and feels like something is missing.

Also unlike Western-style cheese snacks, there is no orange powder that comes off these onto your fingers. That to me, is one of the best parts of eating Cheetos or Twisties because you then have to go back and lick all that delicious powder off your fingers, so it's kind of like having double the amount! Here there is nary a spec of powder on your fingers, only a few crumbs from the actual twists themselves, but much less satisfying.

These don't leave me wanting more, they leave me wanting a drink! There is an aftertaste, the stevia no doubt, that makes me so thirsty I could drink the well dry. It's kind of the same as having an icecream or a milkshake on a really hot day.

By the way, I'm not sure why these are called Scorn. I can only imagine it's the feelings of Westerners like me who think they are getting a savoury snack only to find themselves drinking down bucketloads of water afterwards.

I won't be buying these again. Try at your own risk - make sure you have a drink handy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Country Ma'am Mango Pudding Chocochip Cookies カントリーマアムマンゴープリン


I bought these on a last minute shopping trip to Seria in Hokkaido. I bought them primarily as souvenirs; in my family food seems to go down much better as a gift than a scroll.

105 yen seemed like a good price for a pack of 5 individually wrapped cookies. I bought too many though, and have now ended up with a few left over, hence this review.

I'm not a diehard mango fan, but I do like the flavour. I love white chocolate though, so the two combined, in my mind, seemed like a good match.

The flavour is actually mango pudding, and the bag states that apple mangoes were used. The cross-section of the cookie on the image shows 2 rather large white choco chips.

The cookies themselves are small and round, about 3cm diameter. There is a sweet smell of mango, and the colour is a light orange. I found one small white choco chip in my cookie, but maybe I got the runt of the litter.

The cookie is soft in the middle with what tastes and feels like mango puree. The flavour is light, not too sweet, and the texture of the cookie is a little bit hard on the outside but soft and smooth in the middle.

The chocolate chips really don't add much to the flavour, the mango is the star here. I don't mind that though. I thought this cookie was really well done. It's a nice little treat to serve with afternoon tea, or as a small snack after dinner. It's got a hint of sweetness that is just right. I really like the lightness of the mango flavour, and I'm sure this is very close to the real mango pudding.

Luckily I have two more packets of these to chow down on, but I would definitely buy them again, if I'm not sick of them in 14 cookies time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Kabaya Saku Saku Panda Caramel Milk さくさくぱんだキャラメルミルク


I didn't know this snack existed until I saw it on Japanese Snack Reviews. I then came across it myself at napaJapan and bought a pack along with the Halloween Crunky.

I'm pretty sure this is a Halloween version as the box is orange, the generic colour of Halloween. Something interesting I noticed now that I didn't notice is that there is a kinchaku (small drawstring bag) included in the box.

The inner packaging is a foil bag with only 50% of the space taken up by the contents. There are various cartoons and character images on the bag, another way to entertain the kiddliwinks eating them.

I was pretty surprised to find only 6 panda biscuits in the bag. They all had different faces, smiley through sad. Actually the front of the biscuit is a chocolate panda, and the back is more biscuit. The chocolate side is definitely cuter. I thought the biscuit side looks quite ghoulish. Or is that their purpose?

The chocolate coating is white chocolate, and brown tinted white chocolate for the eyes and ears. The scent is overwhelmingly caramel. It's very strong.

The biscuit itself tastes like a plain sweet biscuit with coconut oil. The chocolate is caramel flavour, with a hint of vanilla. The chocolate is quite soft and melts easily. I preferred them straight out of the fridge, they are harder, and seem to have more substance.

I'm sure these are a great way for portion control, the sweet taste of the chocolate, tooth-achingly so, would make sure I ate even less than 6 of these.

The kinchaku bag included is, I suppose, for all those treats you will receive on your treating mission. It is a rather cute bag with sakusakupanda on it, and it's actually quite big, and the material, although plastic, is very sturdy.

A great gift for Halloween either in Japan or elsewhere, and a great little snack for the kids, not so much for me as its way too sweet, but I would buy this again as a gift.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

napaJapan Candy & Bento Store


I just thought I would take this opportunity to blog about a new online store that is selling Japanese snacks and bento, including the 25+ Japanese Kit Kat flavours to the world!
Jay, the creator of the store has been selling me Japanese snacks on ebay for a long time, and now he's opened his store from Sapporo, Japan.

It's great because for years Japanese snack lovers have been relying on J-list to satisfy their J-snack cravings. And while J-list do have a very comprehensive list of Japanese products, they never have the new Kit Kat in store, they only stock limited snacks - that often run out which I find annoying.

I've never had that problem in all these years of buying from Jay. He ships them out within 36 hours, the packaging is perfect, and he offers 3 shipping options.

You will find Shiso Pepsi, the new Azuki Pepsi, and other Japanese beverages on his website. Pringles, Koala no march, Crunky, Pocky, Fran, Hi-Chew, Mentos, Flavoured Coffee, Morinaga, Meiji and some unique Japanese chocolate.

There is also a big variety of bento supplies, toys, and health products. Plus, requests are taken into account.

As a long-time fan of napaJapan, I just wanted everyone to know how great this store is, and I wanted you to know there is a place you can go to try out all the wacky Kit Kat flavours, like the one's I blog about on here.

No, he didn't put me up to this. I wanted to let everyone know simply because I'm a loyal customer who appreciates the great customer service I've received over the years. :)

So what are you waiting for?? Go buy some Kit Kat! ...or something!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tirol Mochi-in Uji Matcha チロルもち入り宇治抹茶


In Japan I was on the hunt for various Tirol flavours. Yasu is a big fan of Tirol, has been since childhood, and I wanted to find some interesting flavours for him. I managed to find the Salty Vanilla, and this one at Family Mart.

It's not just a plain matcha flavour though, it has 'mochi' or sweet rice, inside. I bought two of them at the time, and just uncovered them in a box of snacks I sent home from Japan.

Uji matcha is a famous blend of matcha powder from Kyoto. Accordingly the chocolate on the outside has that dark green colour and powdered tea smell. It is so rich in smell, it really smells like the powdered tea from tea ceremonies.

Biting into the chocolate, the powder gives the chocolate a very certain texture, which I love. The 'mochi', is more like a gummi, but it is sweet and kind of reminds me of red bean, or I could almost imagine it there. The chocolate is the absolute winner here, I just love the powdery tea texture, and the strong matcha flavour, with a slight bitterness at the end. It really is true to the real thing.

The bitterness of the tea matches well with the sweet inner mochi. It's a match made in heaven for matcha lovers.

I really wish I bought more than two of these!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pumpkin Pudding Crunky (Halloween) パンプキンプリン味


Halloween is not really a custom for us in Australia but I do enjoy seeing the different snacks that Japanese companies put out at this time of the year, all with a Halloween theme decoration on the packaging.

The most popular Halloween flavour in Japan seems to be Pumpkin, and it ties in so easily as this time of the year is Autumn in Japan anyway, and warm vegetables are 'in'. So it's no wonder that Crunky has put out their Halloween flavour as Pumpkin Pudding.

I've never heard of Pumpkin Pudding before, but I suppose in Japan, anything is possible, right? They could take virtually anything and if they put 'pudding' on the end of the word make it marketable to the Japanese people.

I love Pumpkin, so it's not a hard task to indulge in this one. Will it be pumpkin-y though, I wonder?

The box itself is unlike the usual long rectangle block that Crunky comes in. I suppose because it's made for Halloween, the keyword here is 'sharing', that it is in individually wrapped packages inside. 12 to be exact. They could have gone all scary on us and put 13 in there, but oh the party poopers.

There are 2 joined squares in each little packet, which surprised me because I only expected one.

The chocolate is white, but with a light orange hue, and smells quite like caramel and coconut. The pumpkin flavour is not exactly shouting out on this, given it's 11th on the ingredient list. It's only after sucking the chocolate off the rice puffs that I actually taste a slight pumpkin taste, that which is known as 'jap' pumpkins in Australia, or "kabocha", in Japan.

It's more pudding than pumpkin sadly. Lots of caramel, coconut, and creaminess in there, but not so much pumpkin to be seen. I'm disappointed because if you're going to market something for a scary occasion, couldn't they actually make it scary by bringing out the pumpkin more? I know Japanese flavours are not exactly famous for being bold, but being bold on one day of the year surely isn't bad?

Anyway, pumpkin aside, these are enjoyable. I did like them, and when I stopped thinking they were pumpkin, I enjoyed them more. They would make a very nifty Halloween gift, or a box all for yourself. I certainly won't be sharing these with any trick or treaters...they're all mine! (insert evil laugh here)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Morinaga Milk Tea Pie 午後の紅茶ミルクティーパイ


Gogo Tea (or gogo no kocha) is one of those Iconic Japanese brands that has been around for ages, in fact, 23 years. It's one of the more well known milk tea brands in Japan, that has a plethora of Japanese talents endorsing it.

Gogo Tea is actually produced by Kirin beverages, but these pies are made by Morinaga, in conjunction with Kirin. I couldn't find any mention of these pies on the Morinaga biscuit website and likewise the Kirin website.

The box has 12 pies, 6 individually wrapped packs of two pies each. Each pie is 2cm wide by 5cm long and resembles more of a flaky biscuit, than a "pie". The top of the pie is covered in a light brown layer of sweet milk tea coating. I say coating because it's smooth and warm, and very different in texture to icing. The texture of the coating leaves a pasty texture on the roof of my mouth, it's hard to get used to.

The pie itself is flaky, has lots of air in the middle when I take a bite, and reminds me of Pie no Mi, but a long flat version. I tend to think of this more as a biscuit than a pie, just because my idea of a pie, is round with something in the middle, and my idea of a biscuit is flat like this "pie".

Instead, Morinaga have, what should be in the middle, on top of the pie, which seems topsy-turvy to me.

The pie pastry has no discernable flavour, it's made with shortening, milk, flour, and rice flour. It's quite unremarkable, I could almost say "cheap". The coating is made with 100% gogo milk tea, salt, cocoa butter, and cocoa powder.

This is a cheap, unflattering tribute to Kirin, a product which falls short of Kirin's consistent quality of products. I think Morinaga have really let themselves and Kirin down with this pie, and I'm really disappointed.

I definitely wouldn't buy this again.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fritolay Teriyaki Doritos


I really love corn chips, but I'm not a terribly big fan of Doritos, I prefer CC's for their stronger flavour and crunch. I am a big fan of Teriyaki however, so when I saw this bag of Doritos, I couldn't go past them without buying.

Teriyaki is a kind of all-encompassing Japanese flavour. Every Japanese restaurant I've ever been to has had Teriyaki in some form. In Japan however, it's considered more of a home-style Kansai-area dish, and is not commonly found in restaurants.

I was surprised to find a Teriyaki flavoured snack on the Japanese market at all.

On the front of the packet, it states that it is the Japanese flavour that is known all around the world. Teriyaki or 照り焼き in Japanese is a method of cooking by frying or boiling food in a sweet soy sauce marinade.

The front of the packet has a hamburger, but most people identify more with Teriyaki Chicken. These Teriyaki Doritos are more meat based, and actually have meat extract powder as one of the ingredients.

I was shocked when I opened this bag, because only a quarter of the bag has chips! In a 63g bag that's about 16g of chips and 44 grams of air. What you see below is the whole amount of chips that were in the bag.

The smell was very strong when I opened the bag, and it was a very "meaty" smell, with an undertone of barbeque sauce, the kind you put on ribs.

The corn chips themselves are the same size as usual, same colour, but have a light coating of brown and red seasoning. The seasoning is quite sweet, you can taste the soy sauce and mirin, followed by the meatier flavouring.

I find these quite morish. They are good as a savoury snack, and I'm sure these would go down great with a beer. They are quite crunchy, and even though the "meat" flavour is not something I would normally choose to eat, once I got snacking on these I found myself unable to stop.

The sweetness in the seasoning actually comes from Stevia (a sweetener), listed on the back of the pack, along with Sucralose (a zero calorie sugar substitute).

A really different flavour for me, but one I really enjoyed. This just proves I should be more adventurous!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Morinaga Mango Milk Kyorochan Cake マンゴーミルクケーキ


When I was in Japan a month ago, I began to see Kyorochan - of Chocoball fame - gracing the shelves in the form of cookies and cakes. The cookies and cakes all had one flavour - Mango Milk.

One box will set you back 158 yen, or about $1.50. I viewed the cake as more of a dessert treat than the cookie, so bought the box of cakes.

The box states キョロちゃんが作った, meaning that the cakes were made by Kyorochan. I guess it's another ploy to rope kids into getting their mum's to buy a box!

In true Japanese style, this box contains 6 individually wrapped mini cakes. They are round like cookies but are made from chocolate sponge cake, with a mango milk cream filling.

The cakes really are quite small, but great for portion control. They smell really nice, the mango filling is the most prominent scent when opening the pack. The chocolate sponge is so soft that it crumbles when picked up, you really have to be careful when holding it, and not press too hard.

The chocolate sponge is somewhat bland, there is no real 'chocolate' flavour present, but this is ok for me as I don't like strong chocolate tastes. I really like the soft texture of the sponge though, despite the crumbly texture.

The cream is whipped, like a mousse, so it's very light and fluffy. The taste is really strongly mango, and I think the milk component is in the whip texture because it gives it some creaminess on the end notes.

In all, I really liked these cakes. They are great little snacks for lunchboxes and for on the go, light, and well priced. :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Top Valu Soft Ebi Senbei えび味せんべい


I picked up this pack of soft Ebi (prawn) senbei in Japan. They're a pack of 10 individually wrapped packs of 2 senbei each, and cost 98 yen, around $1.

The brand, Top Valu belongs to the Aeon chain. But unlike home brands in Australia, I have found that Top Valu is much better quality across the board.

I'm not much of a fan of seafood myself, especially prawns or crayfish, but I do love the taste of Ebi crackers!

This pack is really good value for a dollar, because they basically have 10 packs, equalling 10 cents per individual pack or 5 cents per cracker. They make great snacks for lunch boxes and I carry them around in my handbag as a snack on the go.

So what are they like? Well the wrapping keeps them very fresh. They are easy to bite into and deliver a loud crunch when you do. They seem to have a fine powdery substance on the outside that delivers a big punch of ebi flavour. They are very much like eating a thicker version of a prawn cracker.

I can't get enough of these. I love the loud crunch noise they make, and the flavouring on the outside. Unlike other senbei I find them to be less oily too, it could be because of the powder on the outside though.

Good value, and good taste, what more could you ask for for $1? :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Kit Kat Kinako Ohagi きなこおはぎ味

Yes, another Kit Kat review, I couldn't help myself. I'm still intrigued by the unique flavours that Kit Kat always bring out. I was drawn to the box because of the traditional design, the green and yellow, and Japanese reeds. Being a lover of Traditional Japan, taste or not, this was a Kit Kat I had to buy.

Just in case you don't know:

Kinako is Japanese soybean flour and is commonly used in Japanese cuisine. Soybeans are toasted, and ground down into the flour.

Ohagi is a sweet that is made in Autumn, and is named after the bush clover that flowers in Autumn. It is made with sweet rice on the outside and an azuki (red bean) paste in the middle.

In the case of Kinako Ohagi, a dusting of Kinako powder is added to the outside of the sweet rice, giving it the appearance of a small brown ball.

Right, now we've got that out of the way, I have to say I wasn't expecting to like this. Some people say that Kinako tastes like peanut paste, and I was hoping it was true. I'd never tasted it before today and I have to say I was abit apprehensive.! Yes, it does taste like peanut paste, in fact more of a peanut cream because it's sweet more than salty. The milk chocolate on the outside, really smells like roasted peanuts. I'm really glad they made it wilk milk chocolate instead of white too, because it has a very earthy smell.

The milk chocolate is sweet and tastes like peanuts where the cream in the wafers taste very sweet like peanut cream. Towards the end there is a bitter, long-roasted taste, that really sets the scene for the toasted sesame flavour that emerges near the end. MMMmm this is delicious!!

I can imagine this going down very well with a nice cup of real green tea. Although there is no azuki in this chocolate, it doesn't really matter, as you do get the feeling you've been transported back to ancient Japan. I was surprised to look down and see I was still wearing jeans and not a yukata after eating this!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Crunky Roasted Chestnut クランキー和栗

As it's now coming into Autum in Japan the Japanese confectionary makers have been releasing snacks to cater to Autumn tastes. A snack that is popular in cool seasons is Waguri or roasted chestnuts, so it's no surprise that Crunky have rolled it out as their latest flavour.

The thing I find disconcerting about Crunky from the start is that the bar itself is so thin. There's literally only rice crispies with a chocolate coating, not the other way around.

The chocolate, when unwrapped, has a strong smell of sweet coffee. It's a coffee-coloured white chocolate that smells so sweet I was afraid to eat it.

See on the back of the bar, it has all the rice crispies, and then some darker dots? Those darker dots are bits of roasted chestnut.

Despite the coffee scent, it doesn't taste like coffee. It does taste like roasted chestnut, it has that roasted flavour, like it has been roasted over the pan for many hours. The rice crispies are quite good in this with the mix of chestnut as they also bring a kind of popcorn taste to the flavour, which ends up being like roasted chestnut, hot popcorn and peanuts.

I really love this! It's got such an interesting mix of flavours, and it really is quite unique. I can image myself eating this while nestled in front of a warm fire with a good book. It's very Autumn-y. But then, I'm eating it in an Australian Spring and it's still really good!

This one is a definitely a keeper.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

For Loyal Readers - Win a pack of Matsuri Hi-Chew!


Thankyou, this competition is now closed.


All you have to do to win is write in the comments about the Matsuri in Japan that you think is the weirdest, and why.

The most creative answer will win a pack of Watagashi (cotton candy) Hi-Chew.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Koala March Mountain Hut Milk Pudding 山小屋のミルクプリン

This is called Mountain Hut Milk Pudding, the kanji 山小屋 (yamagoya), meaning "mountain hut". The picture on the box is of the alps, a green field, and a mountain hut in the background. This is a kind of milk pudding you can get when you're staying in the alps in a mountain hut, and Yasu immediately broke into the theme song of Heidi, when I mentioned it. I guess Japanese people have a fondness for it.

This is the latest flavour of Koala March, a limited edition. I can't say I'm very excited about the flavour, because Milk Pudding is a very simple flavour, and kind of boring to me.

However, when I opened the package I got an immediate scent of somewhat sour yoghurt crossed with lemon. This is intriguing, will it be milk pudding gone bad?

The biscuits have their usual images printed on them, and approximately half of that is filled with cream. Though the flavour is somewhat puzzling. The first taste is like the scent, sour yoghurt, it has some sweetness after that, and an almost how can I say this nicely, taste like vomit? It really is off-putting and I don't like it one bit! I have to wonder, what kind of pudding are they making up there in those alps?? There's no hint of yoghurt on the ingredients list, only the usual vegetable oil, flour, whey powder, coco powder, milk, eggs, cream powder, and salt. Hmm. Strange.

In any case, I don't like this. I don't want to eat sour milk pudding, no thank you. I'll be handing these over to Yasu who I'm sure, will probably say it's good, but not for me.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Tirol Tri-colour Dango チロル三色だんご

I love Japanese dango, it's one of my favourite foods. So, you can imagine my delight when I came across this lovely bag of Tirol Tri-colour dango chocolates. What is Dango you ask? It's a kind of rice dumpling made from sweetened rice flour. Depending on the flavour it will have sauce, or flavour kneaded into the rice. They are typically served on skewers and the tri-colour dango consist of 3 flavours, Sakura (cherry blossom), Mitarashi (sweet soy sauce) and Uguisu (the name of a bird - Japanese Bush Warbler - named for the colour of the bird, which is usually green).

There are 3x3 flavours in this pack, it's small, but the imges on the outside, and the colours, make the packaging a prize in itself. I adore it, it's so very cute!

Very light pink in colour and smells like cherry blossom flower. There is a chewy gummi in the middle, of the same flavour but stronger. It's kind of hard to bite into as the gummi is quite strong. I quite liked this because while tasting the flavour, I also got an aroma in my nose that reminded me of lots of little sakura petals floating on the wind.

Off-white in colour, the chocolate tastes like Maple syrup. The inside is really tough to bite through, again gummi, and orange-brown in colour, exactly the colour of the sauce laid over mitarashi dango. This was very sweet from the white chocolate/maple combination on the outside, which didn't leave much room for the mitarashi to shine. Despite that, I liked the flavour.

Green in colour, looks more like green tea flavour from the outside. The chocolate on the outside smells like almond, the almost lime green gummi in the centre is easy to chew and overwhelmingly almond flavour. It reminds me of those German finger biscuits with the almond on top. This is really different from what I thought it would be, but in a good way.

In all, I can't pick a favourite. They all have their good points, and I didn't really find any bad points beside the really chewy gummi in the middle, that for me, was a little bit too hard to bite through. The idea is very unique, and makes it fun to eat them in the order you would on a stick. Fun for kids and adults alike I say! :)