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. :(

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Uji Matcha Tirol 宇治抹茶 チロル


Matcha (Green Tea) is a popular flavour for chocolate and snacks in Japan, so it stands to reason that Tirol would release that flavour over many different incarnations. In the past I've reviewed Matcha with Mochi , Matcha Milk, and Matcha Soy Latte, but I'm sure there has been many more.

This Matcha Tirol is a premium version which means it's slightly bigger than a regular Tirol chocolate and it costs slightly more. The flavour is Uji Matcha, Uji is an area in Kyoto which is popular for the green tea powder.

The design on the wrapper is striking, with a forrest green background, cherry blossom in one corner and a bright orange sunset with a cup of green tea in the foreground. There is also a temple far off on the horizon. The chocolate is dark green in colour and smells like the green tea powder from a Japanese Tea Ceremony.

There is mochi inside this chocolate that is soft and jelly-like. The chocolate around the mochi is strong and bitter, with a hint of sweetness. The matcha flavour is much more intense in this than previous versions. This is less sweet than a normal Tirol, the bitterness of the tea plays a much bigger role. While I don't normally drink the tea because I don't like bitter flavours, I really enjoyed this because it wasn't really sweet like Tirol chocolate tends to be. I felt that this was a very "adult" flavour, and very classy.

The danger is, I could eat a lot of these in one go because it's not too sweet! :) 

Have you tried this? If so, what did you think?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Kinako Mochi Tirol (Premium) きなこもち チロル


Kinako Mochi seems to be a flavour that Tirol brings out every year or so. I guess in part because it's so popular. I reviewed this same flavour in 2010 but it was a smaller version that came in a pack.

This version is a premium Tirol which is slightly bigger (and costs a bit more) and the added bonus to this newer version is there is kinako powder inside the chocolate. Nothing else has really changed all that much, the wrapper colour is more orange this time around, but it has the same mochi character as last time, and only one big ball of kinako mochi instead of 3 small balls.

I guess Tirol know that you don't have to mess around with something when it's guranteed to be a winner no matter how many times you release it.

I am a kinako lover so I was looking forward to trying this one. As in the previous incarnation, the chocolate looks the colour of kinako, a kind of caramel colour. I can smell the kinako through the chocolate and it's so nice!!

Although I knew there was kinako powder inside, what I didn't expect was that when I bit into it kinako powder would explode out and fall down the front of my shirt. Yum though!! It has that lovely nutty flavour and also the sweetness of the chocolate. There is a piece of mochi inside although it's quite hard to bite through, there is powder surrounding the mochi and it just melts in the mouth. So buttery and nutty at the same time. There is so much powder, you really can't eat this in bites like I tried to do, because the powder gets everywhere!

This was so delicious, I just wish I had about 10 more!! I love how they added the powder, it gave it such a kick in flavour. I'm so glad that this was a premium too as you get that bit more than the usual size. I hope Tirol release this one again soon, can't wait!!

Did you try this? If so, what did you think?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rilakkuma Picnic Tirol リラックマ ピクニックチロル


Tirol have teamed up with Rilakkuma, everyone's favourite lazy bear to bring out this pack of "Picnic Tirol". It has 9 pieces of individually wrapped Tirol featuring cute pictures on the wrapper. There are 3 pieces each of 3 flavours - Pudding, Caramel Cookie, and Choco Marshmallow.

On the front of the pack Rilakkuma is sitting holding a bunch of flowers and he has his friend Korilakkuma (so called as she resembles a smaller version of Rilakkuma). Rilakkuma and Korilakkuma also feature on the chocolate wrapper design along with their birdie friend Kiiroitori (Yellow bird).

I was pleasantly surprised to find this pack contains 3 new flavours, and I'm especially excited about the pudding flavour.

It's such a shame to open this pack, really. As the tear line is situated both sides of Rilakkuma's head, so it literally tears open across his forehead. If you're a big fan of Rilakkuma, you might down the side of the pack.


This Tirol has two different kinds of wrappers, one with Rilakkuma holding a glass of lemonade, and the other with Kiiroitori holding a glass of lemonade. They're both very cute. The chocolate is a cross between a custard and caramel yellow colour. The chocolate smelled like coconut and caramel and was quite sweet. The chocolate breaks easily when bitten into and there is a soft jelly inside that tastes like caramel, even having a sauce left behind from the jelly that has a slight burnt sugar taste. The chocolate complements the burnt flavour by bringing back the sweetness and the flavours mixed together reminds me of a classic creme caramel pudding. I think they have done this well, although I'd prefer a little less burnt sugar in mine.

Caramel Cookie

The wrapper designs for this flavour are either Rilakkuma playing a guitar or Korilakkuma riding a scooter with Kiiroitori on the back. The chocolate is a toffee colour and smells like hard caramel. Biting into it, the chocolate is soft and sweet and the inside consists of biscuit pieces and caramel chocolate all melded together into a hard block. The caramel flavour isn't as strong as I expected on this, but it's really crunchy and I enjoyed it.

Choco Marshmallow

The design for these chocolates featured Korilakkuma holding a bunch of flowers on all 3 pieces. The chocolate is quite dark and smells like chocolate brownie. Biting into it there is a strong dark chocolate flavour, the bitterness is the first thing I taste, then there is the soft centre of marshmallow and dark chocolate sauce. Although I'm not a dark chocolate lover, I liked this one as the marshmallow centre was sweet and offset the bitterness to make it very enjoyable.

Overall, I probably liked the Choco Marshmallow the best, the Pudding second and the Caramel Cookie third. They all have their good points. I liked the jelly in the Pudding but not the burnt sugar flavour. I liked the crunch in Caramel Cookie but the flavour was too weak. I am not a fan of dark chocolate but the Choco Marshmallow somehow complemented that with sweetness of marshmallow.

I think this is a really sweet pack of Tirol and I'm sure it was probably popular in Japan because of the design and the interesting flavours. The fact that it has 9 pieces means it's great to share with friends.

Have you tried this? If so, what did you think? :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

[200th Post!] Calbee Choco Kappa Ebisen かっぱえびせんチョコ


Hi and welcome to my 200th post! I have made it. If you are a regular reader, thank you for reading my blog!

Well for my 200th post I have a snack to review made up of two things you normally don't think would go together. That is prawn crackers, and chocolate. You don't tend to see fishy flavours mixed with chocolate do you?

I was surprised this snack exists, and thank you to the friend who sent it over for me to try! I'm always willing to try new things, as weird as they may be.

So... Kappa Ebisen, aka a prawn flavoured snack, which I love, and chocolate, which I also love, melded together to become one. The packaging really stands out. It's bright red with a red prawn on a white circle on the front. It looks interesting.

This pack is small and holds 23 grams. It held about 22 crackers. I expected the inside of the bag to smell like prawn but I couldn't smell anything but chocolate.


Each cracker has a light coating of milk chocolate over it, just enough to cover it but without totally covering the shape, so that the grooves of the cracker still show through. The chocolate is glossy, and makes the cracker look somewhat plastic.

The cracker is crunchy and airy, and immediately after biting it I could taste the prawn flavour followed by a creamy chocolate taste. The prawn flavour is fleeting, there is a hit and then the chocolate takes over. If you eat more than one though, the prawn flavour tends to build up.

I actually don't mind the taste of these, even though it's a little odd at first. I'm a fan of salty and sweet together, and the prawn crackers have just enough salt to get this combination going.

My husband who is a big fan of Kappa Ebisen said he hates these... I guess for some, chocolate and seafood just don't go together, end of story.

If you like snacks out of the ordinary then you should definitely give these a go! They're a talking point if anything! :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Boy's Day Tirol こいのぼり チロル


Turned on its side the pack resembles a carp windsock.

 I'm fashionably late once again. This pack of Tirol was brought out for Boy's Day in Japan, which is celebrated on the 5th of May every year. In Japan it's called Koinobori which literally means "carp streamer" otherwise known as a "wind sock". The pack design features such a carp streamer on the front.

Boy's Day is usually celebrated by putting up a pole and hanging windsocks from it such as in this picture, and depending on how many children are in the family, extra carp are added.

This pack of Tirol has 9 individually wrapped chocolates and 3 flavours, each set of 3 flavours has a unique design.

Bis is red with a picture of a bow and three arrows. It is a crumbly white biscuit coated with milk chocolate. I believe this is one of the original Tirol chocolates, and is probably very popular. The biscuit inside was so crumbly that it broke into very minute crumbs when I bit into it, and the chocolate coating on the outside fell off. It was kept at room temperature so I don't know why that happened. The chocolate just didn't stick well to the biscuit.



Milk has a red and pink design with the Japanese character for money in gold (Kin). Imprinted into the top of the chocolate is the word "choco" but I am not sure why. This is a white fudge covered in milk chocolate. The chocolate is smooth and sweet but has a slight bitterness at the end. The fudge is so creamy and sweet and it reminds me of condensed milk.



 White & Cookie is in a mustard colour wrapper with a black, red and yellow Kabuto (helmet) on the front. This is white chocolate filled to the brim with cookie pieces. I think this is meant to be like "milk & cookies", the white chocolate featuring as the milk and the cookies are dark like Oreos. The white chocolate had a flavour that reminded me of coconut, but I couldn't taste very much because there were so many biscuit pieces inside. The biscuit pieces were quite hard to eat as they are small and rough and afterwards I had a waxy texture left over in my mouth. I don't think the biscuit pieces were that good quality, so that may account for the waxy texture.

White & Cookie
White & Cookie

In all, this pack had a lot of potential but the execution of the chocolates let it down. Bis is quite plain but still nice, except for the crumbliness of the cookie. Milk was the standout here with it's creaminess and smooth chocolate, and unfortunately white cookie was my least favourite despite me thinking it would be my favourite. It could have been so much better and in this case, quantity (of biscuit pieces) does not win over quality.

Did you try this Tirol pack? If so what did you think about the flavours? :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Maxim Pumpkin Latte マキシム パンプキン・ラテ


I was browsing on eBay and bought it on a whim. I didn't know what to expect, pumpkin + latte? Who would think of such a thing? In Australia, people think pumpkin and soup go together but not as a hot drink! In Japan it's a little bit different as the season's change and the Autumn flavours are rolled out, pumpkin being one of them.

On closer inspection on the box, it states this is "pumpkin pudding taste". I've never had pumpkin pudding, so I still don't know what to expect, however, I do love pumpkin, so I hope it's good.

The box has 4 individual sachets inside. The photo on the front is very appealing, although the real thing doesn't look like that. Sadly, on the back of the box I notice one of the ingredients is Aspartame, something I try very hard to avoid. :(

The other disappointing thing is that if you drink this beverage hot, you can only add 130ml of boiling water to the powder. If you have it iced, you can only add 65ml of cold water to the powder! Either way, that's a very small drink!! I know the portion sizes are small in Japan but this is ridiculous. I would need 2 sachets to make up a normal drink size here.

Anyway, down to the nitty gritty. The smell that wafts out of the cup reminds me of corn soup. It's yellow like corn soup too, it's not as orange as the one on the packet and definitely not as creamy. I can taste the pumpkin flavour but it is weak. You don't need to add sugar to this as there is a sweetness that is quite strong.

In all, it's a great fad product. But that's all really... I wouldn't go out of my way to buy it.

See the latest Maxim flavours here.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Calbee Korean Seaweed かっぱえびせん カルビー 韓国のり風味


As I posted previously, my son loves ebi senbei. Today he has been sick with a virus he caught from one of his friends and has been having high temperatures, which means he has been refusing all food.

I was at my wit's end when I realised that I had this bag of Calbee squirreled away in a parcel from a friend...I pulled them out and opened them and my son instantly perked up and began munching away! Saved! :)

The bag is quite pretty and the top and bottom of the bag is decorated in traditional Korean colours. I'm not really sure what difference there is between Korean nori (seaweed) and Japanese Nori, and when I asked my husband he said they just call it Korean nori in he doesn't know either. Looking online I couldn't find mention of a particular type that comes from Korea, so I guess this is just seaweed originating from Korea flavour!

Inside, the pack really smelled strongly of seaweed, and each cracker had a rich taste of seaweed plus a small kick of what must be chili powder. These tasted quite salty too which made for a very moorish snack that I couldn't stop eating! I love how these snacks are so crunchy when you bite into them, it's the perfect savoury snack.

The other great thing about this pack is that unlike other savoury snacks where you get a small portion of snacks and the rest is air, the bag was full to the top of crackers. When my husband came home from work he had some too and gave them two thumbs up, so we three are all really happy with this snack from Calbee.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bourbon Mini Bit Uji Matcha ブルボン ミニビット 宇治抹茶


I'm a pretty big matcha fan, except when it comes to drinking the tea. Strange, but as a drink it's too bitter for me. I do like it combined with chocolate though. So,when I saw this bag of matcha Mini Bit in a parcel from a friend I was overjoyed!

A lot of the matcha used in chocolates in Japan is "Uji Matcha". Uji is district in the outskirts of Kyoto, famous for green tea and also because the final chapters of the famous novel "The Tale of Genji" were set there.

The bag looks like it holds quite a few chocolates but there are only 6 inside. Each chocolate is individually wrapped and is about an inch in diameter. The chocolate is dark in colour and has a "B" embossed on the top of diagonal lines. I guess the "B" is for "Bourbon", the company who make Mini Bit.

I could smell the matcha wafting out of the chocolate, in fact, the whole bag smelled divine when I stuck my nose in there. Biting into it was quite hard as the inside is jam-packed with matcha. I don't quite know how to describe it but it's like green tea powder moistened and filled inside the chocolate. It's not powdery, it's not gooey or crunchy, it's just nice and firm and flavourful. There is a huge hit of matcha that is oh so satisfying. It doesn't overpower the chocolate at all either, as that is quite rich and is just dark enough to complement the bitterness of the matcha.

This is a match(a) made in heaven!! If these were available in family size I would so get one...but its kind of good that I only have 6...well now 5, because then I can't eat them all at once. Portion control you see.... ;) If you like matcha, then I'm pretty sure you'll like these. But don't take my word for it, try them yourself!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

(Premium) Rilakkuma Lemonade Tirol リラックマ レモネード チロル


Rilakkuma (which translates to relaxing bear) is a character made by San-X, rival of Sanrio (maker of Hello Kitty and My Melody), which is becoming more and more famous. Him and his pals just kind of laze around everywhere and look like they're relaxing.

So now Tirol are featuring Rilakkuma on their chocolate, I guess for the cute factor. I mean who doesn't like to eat chocolate with their favourite character on the front, right? ;)

This flavour is Lemonade and on the wrapper Rilakkuma is holding a glass of liquid that looks like lemonade. This is a premium Tirol too, which means it's slightly bigger than the regular size.

The chocolate is bright yellow, almost fluoro. I was really surprised. I couldn't really smell anything from the outside except the white chocolate. When I bit into this chocolate it crumbled. I tried to bite half but there is a soft white meringue and lemon sauce inside and it was so chewy my teeth couldn't slice through. So that's why it looks a bit mangled in the picture!


Is this really lemonade or lemon meringue pie?? Because to me the flavour is lemon meringue pie. There is the white meringue on the bottom layer and on the top a lemon sauce, just like the pie. It was actually really nice. It reminded me exactly of the dessert. But lemonade?....err no. For one, there was no fizz, so you can't have lemonade without fizz can you? Also, what's with the meringue and sauce?

I think this Tirol is having an identity crisis, or the head honcho at Tirol got mixed up.

As a lemonade Tirol it kind of sucks. But as lemon meringue Tirol it's a winner!! I loved the flavours here, it reminded me of dessert, and I could eat many more.