Sunday, September 30, 2012

Riska Natto Rice Snacks

Usually when someone mentions the word "acquired taste", it means either, "You might not like it at first, but you'll grow to like it", "It's something you have to grow up with to like", or"You'll never like it how much you'll try it". A few foods fall into the last category; the first food that comes to mind is bitter melon. Many foods fall into the first and second category. Licorice certainly falls into the first category for me. Growing up, I never really liked it, but after high school I liked it more, except for that salted licorice my friends Chris and Brittany gave me. I think something like ume or natto fall into the second category. They're foods that belong to a certain culture and don't really exist outside of them. At first, I tried natto just because of the terrible descriptions people gave it. However, after a while, I kind of like it, or at the very least, I have a higher tolerance to it.

First of all, what is natto, you may be asking. Well, it's basically fermented soybean, and when it gets fermented, it's develops sticky webs not unlike a spider web.The flavor of natto for me is hard to describe. I can easily describe the texture, as it's a bit slimy and sticky. It's like if you ate gel or glue. I guess I could describe the flavor as having a subtle sweetness with hints of bitter. When I opened this bag of snacks, it certainly carried a very strong smell. I wondered if a natto flavored snack would taste a lot like natto or a just a little

A natto rice snack

Well the chip starts off with a sweet flavor, but as you chew, there's definitely some bitter to it. It also tastes like there was a bit of horseradish or wasabi flavoring, but this was not indicated on the ingredients list. After eating a few of these, it does give you the mouth feel of eating natto. The slimy texture that's left behind is one that is very unique. I can say that this snack is certainly not for everyone, and if you have an aversion to natto, you might not like it. Like I said, I haven't really gotten around to liking natto yet, but I am becoming much more tolerant of it.

Riska Natto Rice Snacks: 7/10 (much less if you don't like natto)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tohato Bokun Habanero Kimuchi Chips

For all the number of cereal mascots there are, I wonder why Chester the Cheetah and the Pringles man are the only mascots representing chips. Of course, I've heard of the Frito Bandito before, but we all know what happened to him (he gave his life in the Battle of Dorito). Anyway, I would think that companies that sell chips would want a mascot to appeal to kids. I guess parents and concerned adults would be against the idea, as it would make chips and unhealthy snacks more appealing to kids, but if Trix Rabbit, Cap'n Crunch, and all the other sugary cereal icons can still exist, why not have more fun characters?

Bokun Habanero, from what I've read, translates into Tyrant Habanero. Imagine having a mascot like that. Imagine Dictator Dorito forcing his people to work on Cool Ranches. Anyway, if you notice at the lower left corner, there is a bowl of kimuchi, which is the Japanese variation of kimchi. At the lower right, there is what seems to be a pepper meter, and this one indicates that this bag of chips is three peppers hot. And dead center, we see a pepper jack-o-lantern.

If someone could translate the picture for me, that would be awesome. I see two peppers side-by-side, with one of them having bright pink lipstick, so I'll assume they're a pepper couple or something of that nature. I have no idea what is going on in the other two pictures at all, so I'm not even going to assume what's going on.

A kimuchi chip

Well, first of all, this was not three peppers hot. This was not even one pepper hot, as I did not detect any spice at all. Maybe this was for kids and the pepper meter thing was just for decoration or fun. The texture is reminiscent of Pop Chips or some other baked potato chip variety. The flavor is slightly sweet, with a definite kimuchi scent. How would I grade this? Well, there are plenty of other American chip varieties I would rather purchase, but none of them, outside of Pringles and Cheetos, offers a pepper tyrant. I don't think I would get these again, unless there was a variety that actually followed the pepper meter.

Tohato Bokun Habanero Kimuchi Chips: 7/10

Friday, September 28, 2012

Lindt Lindor Hazelnut Milk Chocolate Truffles

When it comes to chocolate, the Lindt brand is one that's often brought up in my posts. I don't know when I decided that the Lindt wast he superior choice when it came to higher priced chocolates that you can find at supermarkets, but it was certainly after trying many different brands. I think I really like Lindt and Hershey's Bliss line because they are very rich compared to other higher priced supermarket chocolates. When you eat a Lindor truffle, it feels like you may have put a bit of butter into your mouth. And it's not just the texture that appeals to me, the flavor is also very rich compared to the other brands.

Admittedly, this was a flavor that I put off trying just because I'm not a big fan of hazelnuts. I've often associated hazelnuts with Ferrero Rochers, and while I don't dislike Ferrero Rochers, I've just never really been into hazelnut. I know there are many people who enjoy Nutella, and I'm okay with Nutella, but I won't go gaga over it. If given the choice between Nutella and peanut butter, I'd probably go with the peanut butter. Now a real craze that needs to catch on is the speculoos craze. There's a spread that's worth raving about, but onward to the review.

That's right, the Lindt company forces that one man to make every truffle one by one or else he'll never see his family again

A hazelnut truffle split in half

Well, if there's one fault I can find in these truffles, it is that they often taste too similar to each other. Sometimes when buying a new flavor, I am a bit disappointed because I expect the flavors to be very different from each other. What do I mean? Well, their white chocolate truffle and stracciatella truffle taste very similar. Their vanilla one doesn't taste too far off from their white chocolate one either. It is only when they get into flavors such as peanut butter and raspberry that you really taste the difference between the truffles.

This truffle tasted very much like their milk chocolate truffle, except with VERY subtle hints of hazelnut. I won't say that I didn't like it, but again, I was a bit let down. I guess I was expecting this to have the texture of a Lindor truffle with the flavor of a Ferrero Rocher, but what I got was a slightly crunchier Lindor milk chocolate truffle. It is by no means bad, as I love the Lindor truffle line, but it's nothing to get excited over.

Lindt Lindor Hazelnut Milk Chocolate Truffles: 8.5/10 (-0.5 for slight disappointment)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

UHA Mikakuto Cream Soda Hard Candy

Growing up, the only melon flavor I associated with candy was watermelon. The only candy that I really recall being melon flavored were the little boxes of Marukawa bubble gum. It wasn't until a few years ago that I was introduced to other melon flavored candy by my friend Josh. I believe it started with Melona ice cream bars, and then it went on from then.

Here's another hard candy featuring miniaturized children on the bag. Now, it says Cream Soda on the English label, but usually when it's cream soda, it's melon cream soda. When American candy makers start making easily available cream soda candy, that'll be the day. Anyway, if you remember, I didn't give the cherry counterpart that favorable of a review, so let's see if this will change my mind.

A cream soda hard candy

The flavor is definitely melon. When you reach the center, you have a cream tasting center waiting for you, so that's nice. I thought that this candy could really be improved if it had a carbonated feeling, as it's cream SODA. Regardless, I liked this better than the cherry variety. How would it rate among other candies? Well, often times in Asian markets, you'll find many soda candies that provide a fizz and more often than not, melon will be one of the flavors. I feel like this candy is good, but it should have that fizz to make it REALLY good.

UHA Mikakuto Cream Soda Hard Candy: 7/10

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Kit Kat Vanilla Ice Cream

Looking back on my older posts, I noticed that I've tasted many kinds of Kit Kats. Some I've liked, some I've disliked. When it comes to Kit Kats, I've come to realize is that the more I've tried, the more I realize that there are many varieties that I have yet to try.

Kit Kat Vanilla Ice Cream is one of those varieties that I haven't tried yet. When I think of a white Kit Kat, I usually think of white chocolate Kit Kats. What could a vanilla ice cream flavored Kit Kat possibly taste like? I'm not sure, but I'm about to find out

One or two of them melted

Now on the back of the bag, there's a picture of a freezer and ice shooting out everywhere. Due to that, and to the fact that the English label read "Vanilla Ice Cream", I assumed that this was a suggestion to try them frozen. Well, I certainly did try one straight from the bag and one that I left in the freezer for about a day. How did the room temperature one taste? Well, sweet, of course, the only tart one I've tried was the Kit Kat Raspberry . The smell reminded me of vanilla flavored whey powder. If you have consumed any sort of vanilla protein bar or protein powder, you know that vanilla smell? That's what this smelled like. If you like vanilla whey protein, you'll like Kit Kat Vanilla Ice Cream. Now, did the frozen one taste any better? If you've put a candy bar in the freezer in the past, you know what happens. Usually the chocolate becomes harder and it doesn't melt as easily. That's the same thing that happened with this candy, and I can't say that I enjoyed it more than when it was at room temperature. In fact, I found it to be a bit harder to eat the candy, but if you like frozen candy bars, you'll probably like these better frozen.

All in all, I think that Kit Kat Vanilla Ice Cream is good, but it may be a bit too plain Jane. I've found that few people hate vanilla as an ice cream and, to my surprise, some say it's there favorite flavor. I wouldn't say that vanilla is my favorite ice cream flavor, but it's always a safe choice. I guess that's how I feel about these Kit Kats; they're not my favorite, but they're a solid choice.

Kit Kat Vanilla Ice Cream: 8/10

Friday, September 21, 2012

UHA Mikakuto Sakuranbo No Uta

Cherry is a candy flavor that I believe divides people. Some people love it, some people hate it, and some people are okay with it. It's not as bad as banana when it comes to dividing people, but it divides people nonetheless. I remember one student that I had that loved cherry everything. I've also had students who say they hate it because it tastes like cough syrup. Personally, my favorite Starburst has always been the cherry one. I think cherry Mike & Ikes are the best ones, besides the lime ones. However, I'm not that big on cherry cordials nor do I like cherry flavored Mio. I could go on and on about how much I like Diet Cherry Coke, but let's please move on to the candy at hand

UHA Mikakuto is one of the candy companies I recognize because of the nervous looking guy they have on their stuff. They make many of the candies I love, such as Puccho, Shigekix, and e-Ma lozenges. With such an excellent track record, I decided to buy this candy, which frankly seemed a bit plain Jane to me. The packaging looks like it's more appropriate for a children's book than it is for a candy. However, packaging can be deceiving

A cherry candy

This is one of those few cases where I did not like a cherry flavored candy and a situation in which UHA has disappointed me. At first, the candy tasted a bit too much like medicine, which I didn't like at all. Then, there was a yogurt-like smell that began to emerge which confused me a bit. Maybe those kids on the bag were accidentally processed into the candy when those cherries were picked, who knows? Anyway, I stuck through to the end to see if there was anything special in the center, and there was not. Plain name, plain game.

UHA Mikakuto Sakuranbo No Uta: 6/10

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Kabaya Kobitozuka Momo Candy

I think for this post, it's best that I write as little as possible and let you, the audience, to enjoy the pictures

Peach butt is telling you FOR SALE IN JAPAN ONLY

Tastes green like green veggies and not the good kind of green like lime or apple

Strong peach flavor, almost to the point of being grapefruit

Light flavor, very subtle and fruity

What's this?

That's the same face I made when I saw this card
Green candy: 5/10
Dark pink candy: 7.5/10
Light pink candy: 7/10

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Trader Joe's (Jacques') Fleur de Sel Caramels

The first time I ever had salted caramels I believe was in 2006. I remember going to Nugget in Davis, CA, and buying a small bag of salted caramels. I don't know if it was because it was the first time that I'd had salted caramels, but I thoroughly enjoyed them. Ever since then, however, I've found that I've been a bit disappointed that I haven't been able to find salted caramels as good as them. Again, maybe I only remember them so fondly because they were my first experience with salted caramels. Whatever the case, often times I will try salted caramels if I see them available.

I have a like/don't really like relationship with Trader Joe's products. That is to say, I'll find things there that I think are really good, but sometimes I'll find things that I have sort of a "meh" attitude towards. However, for the sake of science and taste buds, I decided to sample these.

A wrapped fleur de sel caramel

There certainly is no shortage of salt when it comes to this candy. This was like a candy that was salty with sweet undertones. I don't want to say that they're like those salted licorice candies I tasted a few years ago, but I didn't love these either. Texturally, if you imagine any sort of caramel chew and make it a bit smoother, you've got this candy. If these were a bit less salty and a bit sweeter, I would recommend them, but to me, these fall into the "I guess you might like them" category. If you're into saltier foods, I guess you should definitely check these out.

Trader Joe's (Jacques') Fleur de Sel Caramels: 6.5/10

Friday, September 14, 2012

Puccho Pineapple

Puccho is a candy that's hard not to like. If you like Hi Chew, you'll like Puccho as it's kind of like Hi Chew, but with a bouncier texture. I think the two flavors that are liked most by my students are cola and cider. However, whenever there is a new flavor, I grab it to see if my students and I will like it.

The thing I found out about Puccho and kids is, kids tend to like Puccho better when it fizzes. There are some varieties that provide a fizz, such as cola, cider, and apple cider flavors, whereas some, such as just apple, will not have a fizz. However, kids love candy regardless, but since I'm currently back in school and haven't visited my students all that often, all the candy is mine. Also, as you see, I think you can win something related to Japanese pop group AKB48, I don't know, it's all Greek to me

A diagram of a Puccho candy

A piece of Puccho candy

Puccho candy cross section

Pineapple happens to be the variety that will not provide a fizz. I don't know how my (former) students will react to this, but they're kids, so they'll eat anything short of rocks. Even then, I think I can convince one of them to eat at least a pebble. Anyway, this certainly has a pineapple flavor, but it's a bit subtle. It's not too sweet, and it maintains that bouncy and chewy texture. Overall, I think I would like all varieties of Puccho candy more if they had fizz and if they offered little key chains/charms as they did two years ago. However, it was good, and if you like Starbursts or Hi Chew, or if you already like Puccho candy, you should try this flavor out.

Puccho Pineapple: 8/10

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Milka Lil Stars Crispees

If you recall from my last post, I stated that Milka is one of the brands I would buy if I were looking for a chocolate that was slightly more expensive than Hershey's. The reason why I like the Milka brand is that every product of theirs that I've tried has a very smooth texture and does have a very creamy/milky taste to it. I'm glad that this brand is becoming more widely available in major retailers as their products certainly are very good

This is the reason why I needed to purchase these as soon as I saw them at a Wal-Mart that's too far for me to frequent very often. When I saw this bag, I instantly thought of Whoppers. When I was younger, I used to love Whoppers, but as time went on, I found that they were just okay. I also noticed that there's a picture of wheat on there. Well, it's time to see what this is like.

A Lil Stars Crispee

A Lil Stars Crispee that's been cut in half

The chocolate surrounding the center was very good. It had that smooth milky flavor that was mentioned before. The center itself was interesting as it wasn't quite like a Whopper center. When you get to the center of a Whopper, the inside is usually aerated and such, but this candy was more solid. It also had a slight scent of wheat, as expected. I could see myself finishing a whole bag and then some of these if I weren't so afraid that I might add a few waist sizes. Overall I thought this was good and that if you get a chance, you give products from Milka a go.
Milka Lil Stars Crispees: 8.5/10

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ghiradelli Cookies Jubilee

I believe I've mentioned this before, but I'm not a fan of the Ghiradelli brand of products. I believe that if you want to pay double or triple the price of a Hershey's bar, you're best off buying a Milka bar, Hershey's Delights, or something from Lindt. However, call me a sucker, because I can't not buy new candy when I see it:

Who's ready for moments of timeless pleasure? Anyway, this is Ghiradelli's take on cookies & cream bars. The Hershey's Cookies & Cream is one of my favorite candy bars, and I haven't seen many other companies try out cookies & cream, so I decided I might as well try this out.

Back of the bar

A Cookies Jubilee square

As you can see, at the bottom of the square there's a layer of milk chocolate, which should add another dimension of flavor. At best, I found this bar to be good, at worst, I found it to be a bit ho-hum. The flavor is not overly sweet, but I was hoping for more richness. Texture wise it was quite smooth, and it left a smooth feeling in my mouth, but I was hoping that would also include a richer flavor. Imagine eating bread with butter, only to not have your tongue pick up any of the richness of the butter. That's how I felt about this bar.
As I mentioned at the top, if I were to spend more money on a chocolate bar that was not Hershey's, I would go for the above listed items. At around $3 - 4, I think you should buy two or three Hershey's Cookies & Cream bars instead.

Ghiradelli Cookies Jubilee: 7/10