Today, I received a package from a good friend of mine in Japan. We met in 2005 when she came to my university as an exchange student, and we've kept in touch ever since then. We exchange packages a couple times a year, and if we're really lucky, especially if me going to Japan or her coming to the US isn't in the cards at the time.
Anyhow, she lives in Kyoto and therefore has access to many special edition matcha snacks. This particular Hi-chew flavor is very Kyoto. Yatsuhashi is Kyoto's traditional regional sweet. It's made with rice flour, sugar, and cinnamon and can be raw or baked. The baked kind is good (it reminds me of Cinnamon Toast Crunch), but I especially love the raw variety, as it's soft and doughy like mochi. Kyoto and the nearby city of Uji are also known for matcha, and matcha is one of many possible flavors for yatsuhashi.
They smelled like cinnamon, and had a firmer texture than typical Hi-chew. The matcha flavor was clean, tasty, and quite authentic, though a bit mild. Unfortunately, the cinnamon flavor reminded me of a cinnamon gum instead of the actual spice.
The mochi-like element was great, with a mild rice flavor and good texture. I felt like it was a great approximation of the real thing, and was pleasantly surprised. The only issue was the cinnamon flavor, which felt more like red hots (though not as strong, of course). I'd rather have actual yatsuhashi, but these Hi-chew were very fun.
Yeah, just reading the name of these Hi-chews I thought "Ewww." Will try to score some when I hit Japan late March. Thanks for the tip.
You don't like yatsuhashi? It's one of my favorites! I hope you have a good trip back to Japan!
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