Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kirin Afternoon Tea Special Milk Tea

Special Milk Tea

Kirin is a beverage giant in Japan. Aside from alcoholic drinks (Kirin beer in particular), they have large lines of soft drinks as well. This tea comes from their popular Gogo no Kocha (Afternoon Tea) line, and was a "special" version of their regular milk tea.

The back of the bottle (mostly obscured by the label with the translation of the ingredients, as I bought this in the US) said that it was made with Assam tea and milk. I read online that the "special" version here had creamier milk and a more robust tea base. It's been a little while since I had the regular version, so I can't make a comparison.

The tea was very refreshing, with a complex, slightly floral flavor. It wasn't too sweet or too rich, and did taste special. The Assam tea was present, but not strong, which I enjoyed. It definitely worked well as an afternoon tea for that reason. Of course, no matter what time it is, my father likes his tea black and almost over-steeped, so those with tastes like his would not care for this.

The drink certainly wasn't sickeningly sweet by any means. I assume that it was a limited edition release in Japan, but I would certainly drink it again. I will have to try the regular version to see if there are any detectable differences.


Kirin Website

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chuao Chinita Nibs

Chuao Chinita Nibs

Here we have another bar I picked up at the fancy grocery store. It was in a bin of 50% off chocolate, and the original price was $5.99 US. I love nutmeg, and couldn't remember having a chocolate bar with nutmeg before, so it called to me.

I love dark chocolate, and the last Chuao chocolate I had was made with excellent dark chocolate. This one also said it contained "caramelized cacao nibs" so I wasn't sure what to expect from those. Sometimes, spices can be overpowering, which was a bit of a concern, too. I made nutmeg brownies once and used way too much, and they were nearly inedible.

Chuao Chinita Nibs

The bar smelled like a good dark chocolate, with lots of nutmeg. In my first bite, the nutmeg was the first thing I tasted. The texture was crunchy from the cacao nibs, and the dark chocolate only brought flavor after the nutmeg had subsided. The chocolate had a good snap, and felt cold on my tongue (maybe from the spices).

The crunchiness of the nibs gave the chocolate a good texture throughout, even as the actual chocolate melted. The nutmeg was almost too strong, but thankfully, there was no spice burn. I almost thought the cacao nibs were almond pieces, and they had a nice toasty flavor. Because of the strong nutmeg flavor, I wouldn't want to eat a lot at once, but it was very tasty.


Chuao Chocolatier website

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Glico Matcha Collon

Matcha Collon

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of matcha (green tea) flavored snacks. I'm afraid my ratings tend to be a bit biased when it comes to matcha, but I try to give an idea of how strong the flavor is so that those who don't care for matcha can relate to the review. I know matcha isn't everyone's cup of tea (har har).

It's hard to review Collon without pointing out how silly the name sounds in English-speaking countries. Also, I feel I must mention that this is a heavier snack. One box (60 grams) is about 326 calories and contains 18.3 grams of fat. Collon is definitely something to be enjoyed in moderation, but most snacks are, anyway.

Matcha Collon

Upon opening the bag, I was treated to the smell of cream, with a faint trace of matcha. Collon is fluffy cream inside a crunchy wafer cylinder, like dessert Combos. These didn't survive the trip from Japan all that well, but the flavor hasn't been compromised.

The flaky crust was a little buttery and delicate, and very tasty. The cream was light and whipped, but didn't have a very strong matcha flavor. They definitely tasted different from regular Collon, and the matcha flavor was present, just not dominating. I didn't like how they left my mouth feeling oily, or the slight preservative-laden aftertaste. However, they were still enjoyable, and I think they could please both matcha fans as well as snackers who aren't as enamored with green tea.


Glico Collon Website

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Nestle KitKat Cookies+ with Whole Grain


I ordered these from JBox (aka JList) because it's getting close to summer and the don't ship chocolate in summer. Unfortunately, they still melted, but that's not their fault. The weather has been quite warm where I live, so I expected it.

I really enjoyed the last Cookies+ with chocolate. This one was made with whole grain, giving it a graham cracker feel. The whole grain craze that swept America must have happened in Japan, too. One of these bars is still 100 calories and 6.3 grams of fat, at which point the whole grain doesn't really matter.


The bar smelled of milk chocolate, and the chocolate was simple and tasty. The graham cracker was nice and crunchy and the texture went almost perfectly with the wafers in the KitKat. As KitKats go, it wasn't very sweet, which was a welcome change.

I didn't like it as much as the chocolate Cookies+, but still liked it better than many other KitKats I've tried. Something about it was just a little bit bland, and I wish the cookie part stood out a little bit more. Of course, the melting may have contributed to this, so I can't fully rate it. For another take, have a look at the review at Japanese Snack Reviews.


KitKat Website

Friday, May 22, 2009

UHA Orange Soda Puccho

Orange Soda Puccho

Puccho may not be as well known as Hi-chew, but it's another Japanese chewy candy, only with a more kid-oriented look. Please note the cute character on the package. Also, Puccho has little gel drops inside the chew, giving it an added texture.

A big reason I bought this was the fact that it was advertised as fizzy. I really like fizzy candy, and I had liked Puccho in the past. The stripes on this variety were quite fetching, and I rather like the texture of the gel drops inside, so I was interested to see how the fizzing would work in.

Orange Soda Puccho

The candy had the aroma of vitamin C tablets, and the jelly part tasted like an extra-citrusy creamsicle. Along with the normal firm gummy pieces (which don't seem to carry much flavor), the fizzy pellets were crunch and reminded me of chewable vitamins.

The fizzing was cool and did give the effect of an orange cream soda when combined with the slightly creamy chew. I don't think I will be able to eat the whole package, as they were very sweet. I would recommend these to fans of Starburst or Hi-chew as a nice twist on a standard chew.


Puccho Website

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mars Strawberried Peanut Butter M&Ms

Strawberried Peanut Butter M&Ms

While grocery shopping, I was on the lookout for these M&Ms. The Mint Crispy M&Ms that came out with the most recent Indiana Jones movie were quite tasty, and I looked forward to trying another limited edition movie tie-in (the new Transformers movie) M&M.

I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, despite having them every day at school pretty much until college. I wanted to get a small bag, but the only size my grocery store had was the medium bag. Thanks to a review from Candy Blog, I knew that M&Ms were similar to regular peanut butter M&Ms, only with strawberry flavored chocolate.

Strawberried Peanut Butter M&Ms

The little speckles on the pieces were really cute, and the pieces smelled like berries. The fruity chocolate was a much better match for the peanut butter than I thought it would be, and with the peanut butter, it reminded me of strawberry cake or cookies. The saltiness goes well with the berry taste.

I can't say I liked them better than regular peanut butter M&Ms, but Mars has made a combination that I never would have imagined working here into a pretty good candy. The novelty factor is high, but the taste isn't so bad, either.


Mars Website

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chuao Choco Pod Modena

Choco Pod Modena

There's a Whole Foods-type store near my house called The Fresh Market, and they carry a lot of the fancier chocolate bars that I don't usually splurge on. When I was picking up some apples, I saw these Choco Pods at the check out. This strawberry and balsamic caramel in particular sounded interesting.

Reviewing fancy chocolate like this can be intimidating for someone like me who doesn't have the background to have a truly informed opinion. Therefore, I present this review as an enthusiast, not an expert.

Choco Pod Modena

The pod had a pretty design and smelled wonderful. I love dark chocolate, and this smelled especially good. The first bite was very complex, and my assumptions about the dark chocolate were correct. It was very good. The strawberry caramel was at first tart, then sweet, and it was a wonderful compliment to the smooth dark chocolate.

The dark chocolate melted on my tongue, just as the caramel went from tart to sweet. The balsamic was more of a background note, and perhaps added to the initial tartness. The caramel was runnier than I usually like caramel to be, but the flavor was so interesting that I didn't mind. For both flavor and texture, the Modena Choco Pod was a wonderful treat.

Cybele of Candy Blog also reviewed this and the full line of Choco Pods.


Chuao Chocolatier website

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nestle KitKat Senses

KitKat Senses

While I'm on the subject of KitKats, here's something I picked up in Canada in March. My husband and I have been trying to cut back on sweets, so it's been tough to balance candy blogging with that. We haven't been depriving ourselves, because there's always room for a little indulgence.

Anyhow, I had seen pictures of this bar, and couldn't resist buying it while in Canada. But, because I had so many other treats, it sat in my "to be reviewed" cupboard for weeks. For those not familiar with the bar, it was basically a KitKat on the bottom with lots of hazelnut cream on top, all chocolate coated

KitKat Senses KitKat Senses

It might have something to do with age, but the smell of this bar reminded me of Halloween candy; some catch-all mix of chocolate, caramel, and nuts. The bar itself is lovely, with "KitKat" stamped on each piece.

The chocolate was smooth, but it may have picked up other flavors from my cupboard, so I'll ignore that. For fans of hazelnut, though, I think this would be nice. The hazelnut topping was mild and creamy, but very sweet. I am not a huge hazelnut fan (I don't even really like Nutella). It was good enough, but I think I will give the rest of mine to someone who likes hazelnut more. One of the pieces was more than enough for me.


KitKat Website

Friday, May 15, 2009

Nestle Yellow Peach KitKat

White and Yellow Peach KitKats

Here's the other part of the Peach KitKat review: Yellow Peach. I'll come right out and say it - this is the weaker of the two. They were similar, but there were some nuances that made all the difference.

Based on the picture on the bag, I'm assuming that Yellow Peach was supposed to taste more like the peaches readily available in the United States. This gave me a better idea to what I should compare it.

KitKat Yellow Peach

It smelled similar to the White Peach, but the peach scent might have been stronger in the Yellow Peach. My first bite was good, at least initially. The white chocolate was smooth, sweet, and creamy, but didn't really taste like peach.

The peach flavor kicked in as a weird, sour aftertaste. It wasn't good, and ruined the bar for me. White Peach actually tasted like peach, and the flavor was better. I don't mind eating the Yellow Peach, but they were definitely not impressive.


KitKat Website (Japanese)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Nestle White Peach KitKat

White and Yellow Peach KitKats

I decided to split my review of the Nestle Peach KitKats into two parts because I wrote a review of White Peach last night, and meant to bring Yellow Peach with me to work today and review it, but grabbed another White Peach by accident.

These were purchased at the same store as the Purin KitKats from yesterday's review. That Japanese store (Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights, IL) never seems to have KitKats in stock when I go there, so I was thrilled to see these.

For some reason, white peach came in a pink wrapper, but in Japanese, the word 桃 (meaning peach - the fruit) can also mean pink. I think Japanese peaches tend to be pinker in color than the ones found in the United States.

White Peach KitKat

The bar smelled just like peach juice I have had in the past, and I was pleased that it didn't smell fake. The taste was also peachy - sweet, juicy, and refreshing. As with most white chocolate KitKats, it was a little over sweet, but in the small size, it didn't bother me too much.

I was pleasantly surprised, since my previous experience with fruity KitKats has been pretty negative. The peach flavor tasted genuine and pleasant. Both my husband and I (and Kelly at Sweet Pursuit) liked this one better than the Yellow Peach, which I will post about soon.


KitKat Website (Japanese)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nestle Custard Purin KitKat

Custard Purin KitKats

My husband loves purin. It's probably the number one Japanese treat he wishes was he could find more easily in the US. So, whenever we go to a Japanese market, he always wants some. This time, we found it in KitKat form!

White chocolate KitKats have a reputation for being too sweet, so I tend to prefer them in the miniature size. Luckily, that's how these Custard Purin KitKats came. In the past, I tried a Caramel Purin KitKat that I didn't care for, so I tried not to let that influence my opinion on this one.

Custard Purin KitKat

The bars smelled a bit gross, like a fake caramel. However, they tasted better than they smelled. The chocolate was buttery and smooth, and very creamy. The flavor had a hint of caramel, as well as a nice custard taste.

Of course, my husband and I agreed that it wasn't as good as real purin, and it was a little too sweet. However, the custard flavor was really tasty, so I wasn't too upset about the sweetness. It was much better than the last purin KitKat I tried.


KitKat Website (Japanese)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Meiji Rich Pistachio

Meiji Rich Pistachio

Two Meiji reviews in a row! My husband loves pistachios, so the last time I ordered KitKats from JBox, I picked this up with him in mind. The deep green packaging was quite attractive, which also lured me in.

I feel like I should mention the recent United States pistachio recall, but this bar is from Japan, and to my knowledge, Japan has not been affected by this. Plus, neither my husband nor I got sick from it.

Meiji Pistachio Chocolate

The bar was a pale green (lighter than the matcha bar) with brown flecks. It smelled a bit like roasted nuts. The flavored white chocolate tasted rich and smooth, and the bar had a lovely texture. As for the pistachio flavor, the bar was just a bit salty with a mild pistachio taste.

The bar wasn't too sweet, and had just a hint of nuttiness. All in all, it was another good white chocolate bar from Meiji! Personally, I thought the pistachio flavor could have been stronger, but my husband was able to detect the taste better than I was.


Meiji Website

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Meiji Pucca Salt and Creamy Caramel

Pucca Creamy Caramel

Meiji is one of my favorite Japanese snack brands, but I had never tried Pucca before. I picked this up at a Japanese grocery store because my husband and I like limited edition snacks, and caramel is usually pretty good.

It seems like every company has a snack like Pucca, such as Koala's March or Hello Panda (which is also Meiji). However, Pucca is made with a pretzel shell instead of a cookie shell. They come in two shapes, as far as I could tell; one looked like a fish and the other looked like an octopus.


They smelled like caramel and pretzels, or like a very salty caramel. The fish and octopus shapes were really cute! The caramel cream was sweet and salty with a slightly cool feeling. My husband thought they had a cheese-like consistency. The pretzel was thin and crunchy, and the salt grains added a nice balance to the caramel.

I wish I had tried Pucca sooner! It wasn't too sweet, and the pretzel complimented the creamy filling very well. I was really pleased with these, and even though they weren't my favorite, I would definitely try other flavors.


Meiji website (Japanese)