Monday, February 15, 2010

Morinaga Dars White 森永白いダーズ


White chocolate is very popular in our house, and so is Japanese chocolate. So it's no surprise really that we would buy something like Dars White by Morinaga.

I've seen this around and also in Japan. I've tried it before but I've never blogged about it. I figure it's a stalwart in the snack world, it should be reviewed.

The pack is simple, light yellow with Dars in big blue letters. There is a sealed foil pack inside containing 12 individual pieces (aka Dars = "dozen"). They are a light yellow colour and have "Dars" stamped into the top.

They have that creamy sweet smell familiar to white chocolate. These are best eaten at room temperature as they have a soft centre, somewhat similar to a ganache, that you can't experience when the chocolate is cold from the fridge.

The chocolate is really sweet, but also really creamy and the ganache in the centre adds something a little bit extra to this but without fanfare. It's unexpected but delightful. There is a build up of vanilla flavour you get if you eat more than one, and it's really nice.

This is everything I expected and more. It's one of the best white chocolates I have ever tried.
At the moment because of Valentine's day they have a special page with recipes to make for your love using Dars as one of the ingredients. I'm not sure how long it will stay around for though.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Itoen Lactic Acid Yoghurt Taste かち割り乳酸菌ヨーグルトテイスト


Today was a hot, humid day. We had walked around the city for 2 hours and when I spied this in the refrigerator of a Japanese supermarket it looked like heaven.

It cost me $3.50 - I know you're thinking it's daylight robbery. But honestly, a bottle of Kirin Gogo tea here is $4.99, so it's not that bad. :)

This is a lactic acid drink, otherwise known as milk acid and is formed from the lactobacillus bacteria amongst others and is commonly found in yoghurt. This particular drink's claim to fame is that it can be frozen, defrosted and then drunk, unlike Calpis and other yoghurty drinks.

This smells similar to Calpis but it has more of a citrus element. It also has more of a milky colour than Calpis, it looks like someone has poured milk and water in the bottle as there is the blue/gray colour apparent when milk and water is combined.

I found this to be quite refreshing. The yoghurt taste is pleasant and the citrus flavour is refreshing enough so that it didn't leave me thirsty. The bottle is cute and an unusual shape. I'm keeping it for my water bottle :)

This was an April 2009 release by Itoen and it's best before is June 2010. This surprisingly had soybean dietary fibre in it. It didn't effect the taste any. I guess Itoen had to make it healthy somehow, not just with yoghurt.

I would definitely buy this again, even at $3.50.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tirol Kinako Mochi チロルきなこもち


I recently reviewed Kinako Mochi Cheetos and this is the same but without the Cheetos component.

The chocolate is quite dark, it reminded me of coffee. It smells very nutty and the chocolate tastes like roasted peanuts. There is a mochi centre which is similar in colour to the outside. It is soft and chewy but doesn't really enhance the flavour any.

This flavour came in a pack of 9, and it was the kind that hangs on a hook at the end of an aisle. Each chocolate comes packaged in its own bag that is torn off via a perforation at the end of each one.

I really liked the flavour when combined with Cheetos but when it is alone it just doesn't seem as good. I like the texture of the mochi in the middle, which is something the Cheetos didn't have, but the depth of flavour just doesn't seem to be the same.

This was disappointing. Yasu and I will eat the rest of the pack, but I won't buy any more. A shame because I really expected to like these much more than I do.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tirol Minashigo Hutch Honey Toast and Yoghurt Honey チロルみなしごハッチ・ハニートーストとヨーグルトはちみつ


Tirol is one of those snacks that I have only discovered in the past year but that I fell in love with instantly. It's a small bite-size chocolate that you can buy at supermarkets and convenience stores for around 20 yen (20 cents).

My husband grew up with these and so he was delighted that I discovered them as he is a long-time fan as well. These are cheap and good as a single time treat for kids. There is alot of sentimentality surrounding these snacks for kids in Japan.

The thing I love the most is my husband's reaction when I get a new flavour. When he was a kid they only had the coffee nougat, and the almond and now, just like Nestle Japan (with their many varieties of Kit Kats), Tirol are churning out new flavours all the time.

He was especially stoked when I pulled out this bag of Minashigo Hutch, a favourite cartoon of his from childhood. This cartoon or anime, was made in the 1970's and is the story of an orphan bee who is searching for his mother.

My husband said "if you watch that, you will cry alot". I guess it is something the same as Lassie, in that it pulls at the heartstrings.

This bag of Tirol has 8 pieces in it, and two flavours. Four each.

Honey Toast

This flavour makes my mouth water without even trying. I think of hot buttery toast with honey drizzled over it. In reality the light yellow chocolate on the outside has a buttery flavour. The inside is comprised of a biscuit matching in colour with a light glaze of honey flavoured liquid. This is not really quite what I had in mind. It's really sweet and the honey doesn't really have the depth of flavour that I like. The butter flavour is not exactly on the money and tastes abit strange, I can't put my finger on it.

Yoghurt Honey

I didn't know what to expect with this one. The white chocolate outside has a floral flavour, it reminds me of jasmine tea. The middle has a white jelly that tastes like yoghurt but it is much sweeter and has those floral notes too. The jelly is covered with a layer of honey liquid that escapes when you bite into the chocolate. The honey and floral notes are very overwhelming and once again, this one is very sweet. The yoghurt in this is very underwhelming and a disappointment.

Although these both deliver in regards to the theme of bees and honey, they fail to make the mark in regards to the flavours they are paired with. I feel as if they should have just made a honey flavour instead of getting elaborate and trying to create something that really should have been simple enough in theory but just didn't compute in the final product.

I think my husband will eat these regardless of the flavour, but unless he really loves them I won't buy them again.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Royal Milk Tea Kit Kat ロイヤルミルクティー味キットカット


I've been a tea drinker since I was young. As in 2 or 3 years young. My mum's side of the family came over from England way back when so it kind of runs in the family. And by tea I mean English Breakfast Tea. With milk.

The first time I ever went to Japan I was introduced to their version of it - royal milk tea - by my father in law. It was love at first taste. The Japanese version is definitely sweeter and it seems to have a secret ingredient, maybe some spices thrown in for good measure.

Living in Australia, Japanese royal milk tea is one of the things I miss the most. It's always the first thing I buy when I arrive in Japan.

So, I was overjoyed to hear that Nestle had made a royal milk tea Kit Kat. I received this box as a gift from a friend which I thought was quite fitting as food from friends always taste better, right?

This box is typically English in design, it has the red tartan in the background and the English guards walking across the bottom of the box. I wonder if the Queen has tried this Kit Kat? I wonder if Nestle Japan sent her a box of it for free?

The two packets of fingers inside the box have a blue tartan on the outside of the packaging. What is the significance of that I wondered. So I googled. Then I realised that tartan is particularly associated with Scotland, and the colours are related to different clans. There are over 4000 different tartans, all belonging to different clans.

Moving on. :)

The chocolate is white chocolate coloured a light beige colour. It smells sweet and floral.

Biting in, there is a definite creaminess, it's very milky. At the back of my tongue I taste the sweet floral notes that I recognise from royal milk tea. The sense of tea is very vague. It's almost there, but not.

The chocolate is not overly sweet like I expected. It's cool on my tongue and really creamy more than anything else. I'm disappointed because there is no sense of the spices or tea flavour that make up a bottle of royal milk tea. It falls short of the mark.

Maybe it's not a good idea to send the Queen one of these. She would probably be very miffed.

Why is it that Nestle Japan can superbly do a Ginger Ale Kit Kat but they fall flat on Royal Milk Tea? It would seem the latter would be easier to recreate. Oh well. I'm hoping if Nestle recycle this flavour, the next time around will be better.

My advice: wait for the next incarnation.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Morinaga Hi-Chew Pom Juice ハイチュウポンジュース


If I was English I would take offence at this Hi-chew and the juice it originates from. Living in Australia, I often hear English people referred to as "poms" - a derogatory term. It's mostly said in good humour but most of my English friends think it's rude and take offence.

So bearing that in mind, I would never offer them a piece of this Pom Hi-chew. In Japanese this is pronounced "pon juice", but when Japanese is converted to English, it becomes "Pom", because Pom is short for Pomelo - a citrus fruit native to South East Asia, that is used to make the juice.

Each piece of candy is a light orange colour with white in the middle. Biting into this reminds me of Hi-C, that generic orange juice concentrate you can buy at the supermarket.

It's really a nice taste. Sweet like Hi-C juice with a light orange flavour. This is chewy and from the texture and taste, really close to gum. It's the kind of texture and taste than any gum manufacturer could make.

I really like this, and I recommend it to you. It has a flavour that is easy to like. :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Meiji Kinoko no Yama Melt-in-the-mouth Milk Caramel きのこの山口どけミルクキャラメル


One of my long-time favourite snacks from Japan is Kinoko no Yama (meaning mushroom mountain in Japanese).

I don't always get to try the very numerous new flavours that Meiji comes out with but I always try. I was pleasantly surprised to find this amongst the goodies in a care pack from Japan.

The website that is made for this snack is very cute and is animated. The characters who are shaped like the snack itself talks to you in speech bubbles and takes you on a trip into his home where you can get information about their mobile site, watch the new commercial, hear Kinotake-san play his guitar and sing the song, read about his profile, read the mail magazine, see party ideas and loads more.

When I opened the box of Kinoko no Yama I realised there was alot more in the box than I had expected. It was pretty full. The smell that wafted out was a creamy milky caramel scent that made me think of a cake shop.

The mushroom is made up of a pretzel stick stem and a chocolate top. The chocolate top is quite thick, so I usually eat these by crunching down on them to get an even mixture of pretzel and chocolate as the pretzel is quite plain to eat by itself if you suck off the chocolate first.

The chocolate is a light coffee coloured white chocolate. I could really taste the cream in these and secondly the caramel. The chocolate melts quickly and really is melt-in-the-mouth (but not in your hand).

The caramel flavour is not overwhelming, it tastes more towards butterscotch than actual caramel. The pretzel is crunchy and when blended with the chocolate seems to take on a real buttery flavour.

I really enjoyed these and thoroughly recommend them. Even though the chocolate is white, it's not too sweet like some other white chocolate snacks and it has a definite dessert-style flavour.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Glico Almond Caramel グリコアーモンドキャラメル


Last November I reviewed Glico Caramel Hearts and now I'm back with another version - Almond Caramel Hearts.

This is an 82 gram pack of 22 individually wrapped caramel hearts with small bits of almond embedded in them.

As I didn't really like the original Glico caramels I didn't hold up much hope for these.

I'm happy to say I was pleasantly surprised.

The caramel is the same shape and size as the original flavour. The difference with these is that they are very soft on the outside and start to melt immediately after I put it in my mouth. The original version was chewy but the almond caramel is less sticky and more pliable. It also has more of a caramel flavour and texture. While chewing the caramel I noticed quite a fudge-like texture too.

The almond is not overpowering, the bits are small enough so they give a hint of roasted almond without overshadowing the caramel experience. If you suck on the caramel rather than chewing it, you tend to get more of the almond flavour.

I'm pleased to note there is nothing that tastes like coconut or lemon peel in these!

I really enjoyed these and if I would definitely recommend them! :)