Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tirol White & Cookie Crunch

White & Cookie Crunch

Tirol chocolates are a fantastic value in Japan, and for such inexpensive chocolate, there is an incredible variety of flavors available. Here we have White & Cookie Crunch, from a variety pack I bought.

I've had this flavor many times but never gotten around to reviewing it. From since I was little, I've always liked cookies and cream treats, whether it be ice cream or a chocolate bar. However, as I get older, I've found myself losing my liking for white chocolate.

White & Cookie insides

The chocolate smelled milky and like Oreo cookies. There were big cookie chunks which held their texture very well. It tasted like a cookies and cream Hershey bar, only with more cookie bits. They also drowned out the so-so white chocolate.

The white chocolate was very soft, milky, and had a slightly sour aftertaste. It was made with cocoa butter, but the white chocolate itself isn't great. With the cookies, though, it makes for a good sweet. I always look forward to this one, though!


Tirol Chocolate website

Mountain Dew Game Fuel Alliance Blue

Mountain Dew Game Fuel Mountain Dew Game Fuel

At work, one of out security guards runs a snack stand, and he occasionally stocks new, limited edition sodas. My friend and I had been talking about trying the Mountain Dew "Game Fuel" flavors, so this is the first of two reviews.

I wasn't sure if this flavor had a name or not, because all my friend and I couldn't find anything other than "DEW with a Punch of Wild Fruit Flavor." My husband said it was called Alliance Blue, but I never would have know.

It smelled like a blue popsicle, in that vaguely fruity kind of way. Similarly, it had a blue raspberry-ish flavor (no fruit flavor on the ingredients list, though, just "natural flavors"). I felt like it tasted like soda that Mountain Dew has put out before. My friend thought it tasted like Mountain Dew LiveWire.

I wasn't crazy about it, but I'm not a big Mountain Dew drinker. But for fans of Mountain Dew, I think it would be pretty pleasant. It was fun to try, but it seemed like just another rehash of a limited edition flavor.


Mountain Dew website

Monday, June 29, 2009

Schakolad Truffles


Last weekend, my husband and I went for a walk at an upscale outdoor mall. We didn't buy any clothes or trinkets (admittedly, we weren't really the target market), but we did buy truffles.

Schakolad is a chocolate/candy chain store, and I had wanted to go there for a while, but this one never seemed to be open when I was in the area. We finally got a chance to go, so for a quick sample, we bought 4 truffles for $4.50. For the price, I was a little disappointed at the rather basic flavor assortment, but the chocolates certainly looked cute.

We selected Orange, Raspberry Cheesecake, Champagne Ganache, and Dark Milk Caramel. A couple of those aren't on the list from the website, but I'm not sure why. Here's a closer look at the flavors we chose.

Bitten Orange Truffle

Orange was a white-chocolate coated orange truffle with orange sprinkles on top. It smelled very citrusy, and the filling reminded me of orange Starburst, in that it was sour but with a little more sweetness. The filling had the consistency of thick frosting and melted nicely on the tongue. I usually see orange paired with milk chocolate, and the white chocolate with the orange made things a little too sweet here.

Bitten Raspberry Cheesecake Truffle

Raspberry Cheesecake was similar in consistency to the Orange truffle. However, there was no sourness here, just a very rich, milky filling with just a hint of raspberry flavor; my husband and I both wished the flavor had been stronger. I liked it better than cheesecake, though, because just when I had enough richness, the truffle was gone.

Champagne Ganche Truffle

Champagne Ganache was the cutest of the bunch, with the gold stars. The filling was excellent, smooth as can be, and with just a hint of a champagne sparkle to make it special. More champagne fizz would have been good with me, but my husband liked this one best. I did like that the chocolate was a nice, darker milk - sweet but not bitter.

Dark Chocolate Caramel

Even though it was arguably the least special of the bunch, Dark Milk Caramel was my favorite. The dark chocolate coating was tasty, but the milky, chewy caramel on the inside was perfect. It was like an ultra high-class Milk Dud, with that same kind of stick-to-your-teeth caramel but no cloying sugar aftertaste.

I'm not sure if I would buy truffles there again, but my husband and I both found the ones we had to be worth the price for a nice treat. If I did go back, I think I would try the butterscotch truffles.


Schakolad website

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Glico Dessert Pocky Tiramisu

Tiramisu Dessert Pocky

Even though I love drinking coffee, coffee flavored candy usually isn't something I enjoy. However, I've had a few tiramisu flavored snacks lately that are beginning to change my mind.

When it comes to Japanese snacks in America, Pocky has become almost ubiquitous. I've seen it in local grocery stores, book stores, and of course, Asian grocers. Unfortunately, Pocky is nowhere near the top of the list of my favorite Japanese snacks, and the kinds I do like (like Dessert Pocky) are still pretty hard to find. I found these at a Japanese grocery store about an hour from where I live.
Tiramisu Pocky

There were three sticks in each bag, which made them a little hard to share with my husband. The sticks were pretty, with intricate crosshatch milk chocolate drizzled over the white chocolate. They certainly looked elegant, and they smelled of milk chocolate with a faint hint of coffee.

The chocolate coating was nice and thick, and as with the scent, the coffee taste was not at all overpowering. The biscuit added a nice texture and kept the sweetness in balance. On the whole, these were not too sweet, and the cookie/chocolate combination did serve to remind me of tiramisu. These were pretty addictive! For another take, have a look at Japanese Snack Reviews.


Glico website

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lotte Toppo Peach Milk

Toppo Peach Milk

Of all the Pocky-type snacks out there (and there are tons), Toppo is probably my favorite. There are tons of flavors, and I like that the chocolate is throughout the whole biscuit. This Peach Milk flavor came from JBox/JList.

I am a little wary of peach flavored snacks, as they tend to taste a little fake. Also, Toppo is usually a little oily, but I've always liked the kinds I've had in the past.

Toppo Peach Milk

Indeed, this smelled like fake peach, but it didn't taste as fake as it smelled. The peach flavor was not perfect, but didn't taste like chemicals. The light crunchy coating was great, and with the peach cream inside, it reminded me of a danish.

This Toppo was a light and satisfying snack. Even though it was not terribly authentic, it was enjoyable for both me and my husband. I didn't feel overloaded with sweetness or the taste of preservatives, so I'd call that a successful Toppo. Most things I try end up being in the B range, I notice. Maybe I should be more critical....


Lotte Website

Monday, June 15, 2009

Morinaga Ume Hi-chew

Ume Hi-Chew

This candy called to me; the packaging was so cute that I had to buy it. It's a Japanese explosion with the cherry blossoms, daruma, ume (Japanese plum) flavor, and the fact that it's marketed have the effect of helping students pass their exams.

The package also advertises "sour powder" inside the chew, which makes sense, as ume (especially umeboshi, or pickled plums) are incredibly sour. Umeboshi tend to bring out strong feelings in people, in that they either hate them or love them. The high citric acid content not only results in a sour taste, but some possible health benefits.

Ume Hi-chew

As for the candy, it smelled really sour and a little salty, like umeboshi. The outside was a bit sweet and a little plummy, but as I chewed, it got very sour, salty, and juicy. It was so sour that I really was reminded of the real thing, down to the hint of bitterness. It made my eyes water just a little bit.

The innards seemed slightly softer than a regular Hi-chew, and you can see in the picture that the inside is a bit spongy. The sour punch was really surprising, and I think this would be great for plum fans. It wasn't as intense as umeboshi can be, but it's candy, so that's just fine with me.


Morinaga Website (Japanese)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Meiji Noir Venezuela Blend

Meiji Noir

Meiji might not be the masters of gourmet chocolate, but they certainly try to put out a variety of chocolate offerings. I hope to go to their 100% Chocolate Cafe someday, but in the meantime, I'll sample what I can.

The packaging was very attractive, and it calls itself "chocolate for the enjoyment of cacao," and "a superbly balanced blend of variations of beans." The box was loaded with individually wrapped thin squares for sharing.

Meiji Chocolate

The chocolate smelled milky and a little spicy, with a little bit of the scent of alcohol. The snap was good, with a satisfying bite. It tasted a little bitter, and the chocolate was smooth, melting on the tongue with a buttery texture. The finish texture was a little grainy.

It wasn't Meiji's best, but it was an enjoyable dark chocolate at 63% cocoa. There really wasn't anything wrong with it, but nothing terribly exciting, either. Meiji's 100% Chocolate Cafe offers all kinds of specialties, and here's a little bit about it from an English packaging design blog.


Meiji Website

DRY Soda Rhubarb

Dry Rhubarb Soda

I've never been a big soda drinker, but every now and then I enjoy it. New and different sodas are especially exciting, so this rhubarb soda sounded too good to resist. DRY Soda wasn't a company I had heard of, and the bottle was a little pricey, but it did have a lot of things going for it.

This soda was all natural, and made with cane sugar (which almost always makes for a higher price, unfortunately). The whole bottle was 60 calories and 16 grams of sugar. I can't remember how much one bottle cost at the grocery store, but a 12 pack sells for $19 US on the DRY Soda website.

The soda smells just like how it tastes. It tastes like rhubarb, with a lot of tartness and a hint of bitterness, counterbalanced with a little sweetness. It was very dry, but didn't taste watered down like I was afraid it would. The aftertaste was nice, too, a bit sweet.

It reminded me of something, and it was halfway through the bottle when I figured it out. It really reminded me of Lotte Koume plum hard candies, which have a bitter coating, followed by a sweet plum candy shell, and finally a gummy plum center. I wouldn't have thought to compare Japanese plums to rhubarb, but they do have some similar qualities (tartness, subtle sweetness).

I really enjoyed this soda, but because of the price and the complex flavor, I wouldn't want to drink it often. While I drank this, my husband had the kumquat flavor, which was also tasty. As an occasional treat, I definitely recommend this soda.


DRY Soda website

Monday, June 1, 2009

Morinaga Koeda Chestnut

Sweet Japanese Chestnut

Chestnuts are classic fall food in Japan. I bought these last fall and have had them since, and finally decided to review them. The expiration date was this month, too. I have had mixed experience with Koeda, but I really liked the matcha and I'm always willing to give things a try.

As I said, chestnuts are traditional fall food in Japan. They find their way into ice cream parfait, buns, and candy. Chestnuts aren't too common in the United States (except for at Christmas), but they have a nice, mild flavor.

Koeda Chestnut

The stick smelled toasty, and a bit like butterscotch. The flavor was most certainly chestnut, and the light crisps added a nice texture. The chocolate wasn't anything special as far as texture, but the taste was pretty complex.

Although rather sweet, there was a nice hint of bitterness. It wasn't my favorite flavor of Koeda, but it was still a tasty treat. The unique, twig-like shape makes for a fun snack, and I look forward to other limited edition flavors.


Morinaga Website (Japanese)