Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Japanese Kit Kat Tasting - Act Two

This is the second of a three part series. Read Act One here.

Kinako Ohagi
Released: September, 2009

This flavor is inspired by a popular (non-Kit Kat) Japanese dessert. "Kinako" is a type of soybean flour. Its flavor is often compared to peanut butter. "Ohagi" is a traditional confection consisting of red bean paste packed around a small ball of rice, which is then coated with kinako.

Our tasters all seemed to agree that of the eleven types sampled, the Kinako Ohagi was the one that would fare best with a US audience. It tastes like a normal Kit Kat with a hint of peanut butter.

Marron (Chestnut)
Released: November, 2009

"Marron" is a fruit very similar to a chestnut. It seems that the term "marron" is often used interchangeably for chestnut in culinary circles. The most common occurence is "marron glacé," which is a candied marron (or chestnut).

The Marron Kit Kat was the most pedestrian of the flavors we sampled. It had a sort of mocha scent and tasted like one of those Ferrero Rocher hazelnut truffles. Overall, it was pretty tasty but not very exotic or interesting.

Released: June, 2009

"Ramune" is a popular Japanese soda. It comes in many flavors (some of which are bizarre, such as kimchi, octopus, or curry) and has a very unique gloss bottle design. The seal at the top of the bottle is created with a tiny glass marble which you dislodge by pushing down on the cap. The marble sinks to the bottom of the bottle - but don't worry, the neck is shaped in such a way that you can't swallow it. My sister Elyse had a Ramune one time at a local sushi place here in St. Louis, so I know that it can be found stateside.

When we opened the wrapper, we were immediately greeted with a powerful bubble gum scent. (Ramune is available in bubble gum flavor, so this fits). The bar is coated in very faint turquoise colored white chocolate. The chocolate has an almost sickeningly sweet bubble gum flavor. The cream between the wafers is as sour as the chocolate is sweet (that is to say, very sour). It leaves a tingling sensation on your tongue, which we are to believe is intended to simulate the carbonation of soda pop.

It's a novelty for sure, but not something I would go out of my way to buy again if they started selling it at our grocery store.

Yubari Melon
Released: Fall, 2009

Yubari is a small town (pop: ~12,000) near Sapporo which is famous for melons. The Yubari melon is similar to a cantaloupe and is considered a delicacy. They are usually packaged individually in a wooden box and given as gifts. The price for a single melon ranges from $60 to $200, depending on the shape and texture of the skin. A pair of Yubari melons sold at a 2007 auction for 2 million yen (that's over $22,000 with today's conversion rate).

The Yubari Melon Kit Kat does not carry the same weight as a status symbol, unfortunately. Upon opening the package, the first surprise is that this bar is coated in milk chocolate and not white chocolate. Anica surmised that the aroma reminded her of girl's flavored lip gloss. The chocolate has a subtle sweet melon flavor. The filling is also melon flavored.

We were all a bit surprised at how unexpectedly good this tasted. Lauren proclaimed it to be her favorite flavor at the end of the night.

Green Tea Matcha
Released: Summer, 2009

"Matcha" is a powder made of finely ground green tea. It can be used to brew tea, and is also commonly used as a food additive. Green tea ice cream, mochi, mousse, cakes, etc. are often flavored with matcha.

The Green Tea Matcha Kit Kat contains matcha from Ito Kyuemon, a specialty tea store popular in Kyoto. Despite the deep green color of the chocolate, the matcha flavor is fairly subtle. The overwhelming flavor is actually white chocolate, which was a disappointment to our tasters.

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