Sunday, May 31, 2009

Meiji Salty Praline

Since last year when Kit Kat released their Salty Vanilla Kit Kat, there has been an explosion of Salty chocolate treats from Japan. At first major brands released Salty + Vanilla and stuck to that, but since I have also seen Salt + Caramel, Salt + Milk Chocolate, and now Meiji's offering, Salty Praline.

The box describes this as "salt & baked crepe in almond praline". It has skipped over the crepe bit in the title. It should have been something like salty crepe praline, I think.

This is a rather thin block of chocolate 16 x 7 cm in dimension and only 0.7cm high. There are 12 pieces that are moulded to be broken off easily, which they do.

The chocolate smells like cocoa used for a hot chocolate. It is glossy and smooth and melts in the mouth easily. There is a strong cocoa taste followed by bits of something I assume to be the crepe mixed into the chocolate. The chocolate is not too sweet, the cocoa flavour is very strong. I find the chocolate flavour itself to be one dimensional, there is no real depth there. The salt is not present until the very end when biting, but if you suck the top of the chocolate the salt is really there. There is no real almond flavour amongst all the other flavours, everything is mainly overriden by the strong cocoa taste. But in saying that, I did enjoy the texture of the crepe bits mixed in, that is what has made this chocolate special. Also the salt kick at the end was nice.

Overall, I enjoyed this chocolate. It wasn't too sweet, and the texture was different to most chocolates. I also liked the salt factor. The only thing I wasn't sure about was the strong cocoa flavour, but in all a nice bar.

In case you are interested, there is a Meiji Poster Gallery here that showcases all the ads they have done with celebrities, and you can save them to your computer.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Natchan Fruity Soda Grape

Yasu is a huge fan of the original Orange Natchan! so when I saw this at the Japanese supa I quickly grabbed it as it was the only one left.

Suntory make a huge range of drinks from soda's, to wine, and chuhai, mineral drinks and beer. And their whisky is famous.

This soda, when poured into a glass does not contain much fizz. Even when I shake it up in the bottle, it does not create bubbles.

It has a very dark red colour, almost like a wine. The aroma of the soda is very grape - but more of the fake grape scent as in bubblegum. However, it's a scent that reminds me of my childhood, the candy we used to get for 5 cents each at the local deli.

The flavour is quite strong. A burst of grape flavour in my mouth. However, after it starts to go from the front of my mouth to the back, I notice that it's mellowed out somewhat, almost like weak cordial. The flavour explosion is at the beginning, and the aftertaste is a watered down grape juice.

If I could keep this in my mouth without swallowing, it would be the perfect drink. I like the fact that it's not too fizzy, it's easier to drink. Though I don't like the watered down aftertaste. I wish it stayed fully flavoured throughout. After drinking this, I now have a flavour in my mouth that is reminiscent of chewing bubblegum for a long time and then spitting it out. It's like the taste of the flavour that once was.

Yasu however thought this flavour was excellent. Maybe it was specifically for Japanese taste buds. Who knows.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pocky Almond Crush (Thai)


I didn't realise when I bought this Pocky that it is actually a product of Thailand. This is made by Thai Glico.

I didn't know if that would make a difference, hopefully in Thailand they use the same ingredients, but whether or not the ingredients are the same quality, well that is the question.

The box weighs 38 grams and has 10 sticks inside. It's really overpackaged, there is so much space inside for 10 sticks. Sadly they are on par with the way Japan packages products.

The sticks themselves have a faint coffee smell, and when I bite into it I find a coffee flavour. I take another look at the box. No, it definitely says Almond Crush. The coffee flavour stays around.

The pretzel is the same as normal. I can't get that yucky coffee flavour out of my mouth. It's a really bad aftertaste.

Notice on the box it says "biscuit stick coated with chocolate flavour", no actual chocolate here. There are plenty of almonds (17.5%), so that is quite good, but that coffee flavour is too strong, even though the ingredient list does not mention coffee.

Ingredients: Wheat flour, Palm Oil, Sugar, Almonds, Milk Powder, Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Powder.

If you can shed some light on why these ingredients would taste like coffee, please do so.

I gave a stick to Yasu and he hated it. He couldn't be convinced into eating another. There is definitely something wrong with these Pocky. Hopefully along the way I can pick up some made in Japan Almond Crush for a comparison. The Japanese made Pocky couldn't be this bad.

I don't this would even suffice as a poor man's Pocky.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tirol Assorted

I thought I better finish off reveiwing the bag of assorted Tirol chocolates I have so here goes.

White & Cookie Crunch
Smells very creamy and looks like it's filled to the brim with cookie. The white chocolate is sweet but not overly so as the cookie is the main flavour that shines through. Lots of crunch on this chocolate, really nice

Milk (with rare cream)

I expected it to be white chocolate to be honest, so was surprised when I opened it and there was milk chocolate. Biting into it I realised the milk is in the centre, as a creamy filling. The chocolate is a little bit bitter, like dark chocolate, but is offset by the creamy rare milk centre, which is like a paste. Quite nice, and the two flavours match each other perfectly.

BIS Milk Choc

This comes in two wrapper colours, pink, and blue. They are both the same chocolates inside however. The "BIS" is short for biscuit. The chocolate coating is slightly darker than regular milk chocolate and has that cocoa flavour. The biscuit inside is just a plain biscuit. There is more chocolate here than biscuit and right at the end, the last bite there is a sweet and bitter flavour from the chocolate. I'm not really a fan, maybe because it's just too plain.

Tirol Chocolate aka Coffee Nougat
Yasu told me that this one, and milk, were the only flavours available when he was a kid. Back when they sold them for 5 Yen each. I thought this would be just a chocolate square because the wrapper says "Chocolate" but I was wrong. It has a coffee toffee-like substance which according to the back of the pack is coffee nougat in the centre! It's quite nice, the coffee is the main flavour in this one.

Out of all of these I would have to say that the White Cookie & Crunch, and Milk were my favourites. I was not really a fan of the BIS. The coffee is ok, but I don't like it in toffee form.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cacao Time Blueberry & Yoghurt Chocolate

I picked this box up at a Japanese supermarket in the city for $2.69. It was on special, $1.30 off.

It looked interesting, and I like both flavours.

The brand is Careme which is a sub-brand of Kabaya. The box weighs 38 grams and has 7 pieces inside, individually wrapped. There is alot of space in there and not much content.

Each square is 2.3 x 2.3 cm. It doesn't really have straight lines either.

I expected the chocolate to look like the box, pink on top, white on the bottom, but I got a surprise when I opened the wrap to find it was light purple on top and yellow on the bottom. And yes, the box is well and truly before the due date in september.

It smells okay. There is a floral tang coming from the top and a milky scent from the bottom.

It's not easy to break in half either, even when I cut it with a sharp knife, it crumbled and didn't slice easily.

The insides are meant to be blueberry sauce and yoghurt cream. However there was no sauce, just a very very thin layer of blueberry jam, and white powdery yoghurt.

The taste is not that impressive either. The first bite does not reveal a whole lot of flavour. Then there is a slight blueberry tang, followed by the yoghurt powder, which tastes more like icecream, then a tang on the end, followed by a milky white chocolate flavour.

It's not really sweet, I think its tangy more than anything, but definitely a let down.

The chocolates may have melted on the way over from Japan to the store, but that would be no reason why the taste should change. And I don't see why the colour would either, not to that effect.

I wouldn't buy this again. And it seems as if Careme are not making this anymore as It's not to be found on their website. Maybe it bombed.

The Kabaya chocolate website can be found here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Watering Kissmint Cassis Gum


I've been meaning to review some Japanese gum for a while, because they have such interesting flavours that we don't. In Australia we are stuck with apple, berry, strawberry, and mint. I really don't like any of those flavours, I'm after something more interesting, especially as gum is something we tend to chew for a while.

I picked up this pack of Watering Kissmint at a Japanese Supermarket in the city. It was a choice between Cassis or Mascat. I really love Mascat flavours but I thought I would go out of my comfort zone and choose Cassis.

Australians I have to admit, are not very familiar with Cassis. I did some research on Wikipedia and it turns out Cassis is a species of Blackcurrant native to Europe and Asia. Well I've learnt something new!

The pack of gum has 8 flat sticks about 1.8 x 4.8cm, wrapped in silver foil with the logo on it. There is just enough wrapping to cover the stick, so it's not overly wrapped which is good.

As soon as I opened the box I could smell the Cassis. And yes, it does smell like blackcurrant. The pack says there is 3% Cassis juice.

At first bite the stick is like a piece of cardboard, kind of flat and hard, but it softens up on the fourth or fifth chew and releases a light tangy blackcurrant flavour. The flavour is a bit weak, sort of like a watered down cordial. The flavour doesn't really last long and gives over to a minty tang, which also doesn't last very long. After that the flavour is reminiscent of blackcurrant and mint but not much of either. It's like chewing a second-hand piece of gum really.

I can't say I really liked this. The flavour doesn't last very long at all, maybe 10 seconds if that. And the flavour did not impress me because it was too weak.

I wouldn't buy this again. I'm pretty disappointed. Maybe next time I'll pick up the Muscat and see if that is any different, though for $3.39 per pack of gum, It's a little bit steep.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Oshiruko Kit Kat


I've read quite a few reviews on the internet about this Kit Kat and most of them said they hated the taste and smell.

I mainly bought this Kit Kat for Yasu as he is such a big fan of Azuki, and Oshiruko in general.

I am also a bit of a fan of Azuki flavoured snacks.

Oshiruko is a traditional Japanese red bean soup served in a bowl with rice cakes. It is truly yum.

The Oshiruko Kit Kat is milk chocolate on the outside, which is a nice change. I had expected it to be azuki colour.

From the milk chocolate you can smell the earthy scent of the beans. I have been to Azuki farms in Hokkaido, so I am familiar with that earthy scent, that some people mistake for an almost rotten smell. Some people just can't stand the smell, but I love it!

The chocolate is quite soft and melts easily. Underneath the earthy smell is a kind of roasted smell of the beans. The scent itself has depth, which is great.

The milk chocolate has a texture, just like the red bean soup. It's like red bean has been ground and added to the milk chocolate, then poured on the wafers. This is truly delicious.

There is red bean paste in between the wafers, just a small amount, but just enough to alight a deeper flavour of Oshiruko in my mouth.

The end note is a roasted bean flavour, followed by the sweetness of Azuki. Oh, this is heaven. I have really enjoyed this. The depth of the flavour reminds me of being in Tokachi, at the Azuki farm.

I am in love with this Kit Kat. It's probably my favourite of all time. Yasu also really enjoyed this one and said it was true to taste, and that it's also his favourite.

Maybe it takes diehard Azuki fans to appreciate this chocolate, and also I think If you have never been to an Azuki farm, you might not know what that smell is, and associate it with something awful, so that's why I think alot of tasters on the net, had trouble with this Kit Kat.

As of now I'm searching on eBay for more of these....

Valentine's Day Kit Kat

Yes, I know I'm 4 months late in posting this. But I thought better later than never!

I love the way the Nestle crew made the box. You can fold it back into a neat little parcel and give one pack of two fingers away to your love. Keep one for yourself, and give one away. It just encourages sharing doesn't it?

I'm glad that this Kit Kat has a simple flavour. In the past I have tried the Lemon Cheesecake Kit Kat - actually that was the first ever Japanese Kit Kat I had - and I like the simple, elegant taste.

I was thinking this Kit Kat would be along the same lines as that one.

The wrapper is simple but attractive. A light yellow background with the red Kit Kat logo and red ends. Nice.

When I opened the wrapper I got a good whiff of a lemony cheese scent. The first bite had a real lemon tang that intensified as I kept chewing. The outside chocolate reminds me of shortcrust pastry with it's soft smooth texture the crumbles in my mouth.

This lemon is not really the same as the lemon cheesecake that I had expected. Instead it's more like a lemon tart. I really love the lemon flavour in this Kit Kat, it's divine!

I really found it hard to stop eating this, and I had to, because I promised Yasu he could have the other pack. It's a pity I didn't buy more of these!

Peach Kit Kat Mini's

This bag of Kit Kat mini's I just had to buy! I love peach, especially Japanese flavoured peach snacks and candy.

I thought it was a great idea to put two flavours in the bag, it breaks it up abit more.

White Peach
Wrapped in a pink wrapper, not sure why, it should have been a white wrapper.
The chocolate is white and there is a very faint smell of peach. The first bite reveals a very peachy flavour in the chocolate, and then the flavour of the plain wafers inside wash over the chocolate, but they taste like vanilla, so it's like peach, vanilla, peach. This is quite nice, I really like it. When eating it just out of the fridge it feels like a nice dessert.

Yellow Peach
The chocolate is a bright orange colour, like the fake cheese on a McDonald's cheeseburger. It smells more like a floral perfume than peach. I can't say this really tastes like peach, for some reason it tastes more like melon! It has a similar flavour to the Yubari melon Kit Kat that had the same colour chocolate. I can't think they would have made a mistake though...
This kit kat also reminds of the sweetness of icecream. Rather cheap icecream I think. There is not really much peach flavour in here. It's more sweetness, floral notes, and the vanilla flavoured wafers. No I'm not a fan.

The white peach was the winner in this pack. They should have left it at that and quit trying, instead of making a less than decent yellow peach.

I guess I just have to find someone who likes the yellow peach and get rid of them, and keep the white ones for myself!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Chocoball Yoghurt


Image used from J-List
buy Chocoball here

This box of Yoghurt Chocoball was in Yasu's Easter gift bag and the last chocolate left. He told me he was waiting for me to review it so he could eat it! I had no idea until he told me tonight.

I have to say, I usually like Japanese yoghurt flavoured items but these chocoballs were way off the mark.

The outside is coated in a very thin layer of white chocolate, which is nice and creamy, but way too thin. The inside is a round ball of sherbet. It is quite sharp and sour, and after sucking the chocolate off the outside, is quite a nasty surprise.

Exactly where in this chocoball the "yoghurt" is I have no idea. There is no yoghurt flavour in the sherbet, it's just plain sherbet.

I have to give a big thumbs down to the crew at Morinaga, what were they thinking? Were they drunk when they came up with this? How can you put white chocolate + sherbet together and come up with yoghurt?

Chelsea Asian Dessert Mix

This bag of Chelsea by Meiji has been sitting on my desk for a couple of weeks waiting to be reviewed.

I've really wanted a lolly today so I thought I would get the review over so I can eat some!

This bag weighs a mere 77 grams and cost $3.99. The bags usually state how many items inside on the back of the bag, but this one only says the weight.

There are three flavours covered in this bag, Banana Coconut Milk, Mango Pudding, and An-nin-dofu (an almond curd dessert).

There are 6 pieces of both the mango and the an-nin, but only 5 of the banana.

The good thing about Japanese candy is they are individually wrapped, and the wrappers are different colours, so it's not a surprise candy when you open it.

Mango Pudding - As soon as I put this one in my mouth I got the flavour of real mango. I'm a mango fan and I absolutely love this! It has all the aspects of mango, and as you suck the lolly there is alot of depth in flavour that comes out. There is real fruit juice in the mango and banana lollies, so that may have something to do with it. I've never actually had mango pudding but I will definitely have to try it now!

Banana Coconut Milk - Wow. I'm a big fan of banana and coconut and when I popped this into my mouth I got a really big banana hit, like a real banana, not that fake stuff. After having the lolly in my mouth for a while the coconut flavour started coming out. At first a coconut cream flavour which graduated into roasted coconut. For me, the banana comes second in this lolly and is really overpowered by the coconut. Sucking on this a while kind of makes me feel ill. I'm not sure if it's because of the overwhelming coconut taste or the sweetness building up.

An-nin-dofu - I've tried the Kit Kat of the same flavour, but never had the real thing. I like those almond cakes that you can get from European countries, but I'm not much into tofu, the texture puts me off. I don't like slippery food. This lolly gives off the same flavour as those cakes from Europe but there is a little bit more of a milk flavour there too. The almond is the star, but the creaminess of the milk is a welcome addition in this lolly.

The mango is really the only one I like in this bag. The banana was too sickly and the an-nin was not really my thing. I haven't had any of the original desserts these lollies are based on either.

It was an interesting foray into Asian desserts, but now I've realised Asian desserts are probably not for me. I think I'll stick to icecream!