April 30th, 2012 by Rosa
My expat friends, Nana and Justin, sent me a bag of Okinawa Brown Sugar Candy in their last generous shipment of foreign candies. At first I thought that making sugar-flavored candy was strange, but then I realized it’s not that different from honey candies or straight up shooting honey sticks.
The prettily matte bag was mostly covered in Japanese. I was able to recognize the character for bamboo on the top right corner, but otherwise I had to rely on the English letters to know what it contained.
The back of the bag described them as “Nature’s blessed ‘Okinawa Kokuto (brown sugar)’ made from sugar cane grown in Okinawa”. I think that makes them a regional specialty.
The candies were individually wrapped in plastic that echoed the bamboo motif of the larger bag. They were smooth flat cylinders, like butterscotch hard candies.
The candies and their melt was perfectly smooth on the tongue, with nary an air bubble to break its glossy surface. The flavor was simple – that of dark brown sugar, sweet with a burnt molasses edge to keep it from being cloying.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed such a simple treat. They didn’t taste revolutionary, but if you’ve ever sneaked a pinch of brown sugar while baking or making oatmeal, you’d enjoy these. An OM.
Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), hard candy, OM, received as gift, review |
3 Comments »
March 2nd, 2012 by Rosa
Kasugai is probably the best known and most widely available brand of Asian gummy available in the U.S. As I noted before, I’m long overdue for a review. Fortunately, I recently saw and just had to buy this bag of their mangosteen gummis.
Mangosteen is not a fruit flavor widely seen in candy – or a fruit widely seen in the U.S. I’ve had them fresh once in Canada and loved them. They’re like lychees on deliciousness enhancing drugs.
Canned mangosteens, however, ain’t worth it. All the fresh fleshy sweetness is lost, and they get generic tasting.
The bag describes mangosteens as “the perfect balance of sweet and sour taste, known as the ‘Queen of Fruit’.” The 4oz bag was full of individually wrapped heart shaped gummis.
The gummis were a lovely translucent golden wheat-yellow. The outer surface was matte, while the gummi inside was smooth.
They were bouncier than I remember Kasugai gummis to be. The chew was super sproingy with a lot of tension.
I also remember other Kasugai gummis as being more flavorful; this was pretty mild. Its flavor was lightly sweet, a mix of mild, white peaches and white grapes with a lychee finish.
I thought this was too timid in its flavor. It was pleasant enough, but I wanted more intensity!
It was the same issue I have with canned mangosteens – the subtle uniqueness of that special fruit is lost. An O.
Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), gummi/gummy, Kasugai, O, review |
2 Comments »
February 17th, 2012 by Rosa
The last time I tried Choco Roll in their Taro flavor, it just didn’t work for me. Though my palate grew up eating lots of Chinese food, I couldn’t stand the Asian starchy root as a dessert.
Recently, I came across a box of Choco Roll in a Pudding variety. Now that’s a flavor that I can get behind!
The Chinese characters for pudding are a straight phonetic translation, a clear indication that “pudding” is a Western import.
The box pictures both a milk chocolate truffle and a delectable looking flan, so I guess they took some liberties in that importing process.
My box contained seven individually wrapped Choco Rolls. Each was a cream filled wafer cookie straw coated in milk chocolate.
The chocolate layer was quite thin. It was mild with little flavor or character and had a slight greasiness to it.
I think it was made with some sort of vegetable fat rather than cocoa butter. A look at the ingredients confirmed my hunch: palm oil and butter, but no cocoa butter.
The wafer cookie was nicely airy and crisp. Though it had the soft and easily crumbling texture of egg roll cookies, the flavor was more that of fortune cookies, minus that crunchy staleness that fortune cookies get.
The center cream filling was rather gritty with no creaminess. It was kind of pasty and fluffy, like dry mashed potatoes.
That cream filling was mildly sweet. It tasted pretty neutrally of dairy cream and left a fatty feeling on my tongue and lips.
I enjoyed these more than the Taro version, but I didn’t enjoy them enough to want to buy them again. I blame the packaging – it had me expecting creamy chocolate truffles and caramelized flan but only delivered neutral sweetness that was boring by comparison.
For that, it gets an O. And I’ve now got flan cravings.
Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chocolate, cookie, O, review |
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February 3rd, 2012 by Rosa
My friends Nana and Justin have been having great adventures while living the expat life and chronicling it all in their awesome blog. They’ve been kind enough to send me great candy finds from abroad, including my all-time most popular review: Crunky Nude Balls.
Recently, they mailed me a bunch of Japanese candies, including this pack of
Lime Shikwasa Hi-Chew. I originally thought these were lime, but Debby and Nana cleared that up in the comments. A Shikwasa is a tart Japanese citrus fruit with a green rind and golden flesh.
Also, there’s all kinds of fun stuff going on on that wrapper in addition to the Shikwasas. Nana has a great explanation in the comments.
I’ve reviewed a bunch of Hi-Chew in the past. Like all Hi-Chew, it comes in a pack of individually wrapped rectangles. The chew started off sproingy and then softened and became stickier.
These were a pale pistachio green with a white center. The flavor was amazingly juicy and spot on.
It was incredibly sweetly limey and zesty with the perfect edge of pithy bitterness. As the chew went on, the zestiness intensified and took on just a hint of herbal grassiness.
There was no sourness to it, and the sweetness level was perfect – tasty without being cloying – with just the right tidbit of bitterness to set it off.
I couldn’t stop popping these and would change nothing about them. Well, I would change one thing: bring them to the U.S. please! A ZOMG!
Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chewy, Morinaga, received as gift, review, ZOMG! |
6 Comments »
January 30th, 2012 by Rosa
I found these Milk Chocolate Salty Pocky at an Asian grocery store back home in Austin. I immediately snatched them up – salt + chocolate has always struck me as a European thing, so I was excited to see them on Pocky, a classic Asian treat.
They were basically regular milk chocolate Pocky – thin biscuit sticks dipped in chocolate – with an added sprinkle of salt. The salt crystals were small but visible, though not quite as sparkly as they appear on the packaging.
The biscuit sticks were crisp and crunchy. They tasted mostly neutral with just a bit of butteriness. Their purpose was mostly to serve as a neutral flavored but texturally interesting foil for the chocolate.
The chocolate coating was thin but creamy. It had a nice duskiness, and the salt crystals added a flash of flavor that really set the chocolate off.
These were a really simple yet wonderful treat. It’s amazing how the simple addition of a few grains of salt added so much more complexity to it. An OMG.
Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chocolate, cookie, OMG, review |
2 Comments »
August 26th, 2011 by Rosa
Today I’ll be reviewing a treat in the “Asian treats shaped like sticks” genre: Cheesecake Pejoy. I bought them in China.
Cheesecake Pejoy is made by Glico. They have a decent U.S. presence (they make Pocky), and various flavors of Pejoy are available in U.S. Asian grocery stores. I’d never seen the cheesecake version in America before, so when I came across them in China, I just had to pick up a box.
China is modernizing at a rapid clip, so I may be a bit behind the times, but I don’t think cheesecake is all that well known in China. There, even just cheese is a fairly new import, so I was surprised to see cheesecake as a flavor. But I’m not complaining – I love cheesecake. Probably too much!
Pejoy are basically an inside-out version of their more famous Pocky counterpart. Pocky are biscuit sticks coated in a thin layer of some sort of flavored frosting-like coating, such as chocolate or pumpkin. Pejoy are hollow tubes made of biscuit and filled with flavored frosting-like substance.
My Pejoys’ color varied from a pale yellow on the underbelly to a lovely golden brown toastiness on its top. Most of mine had little darker hatch marks – almost like grill marks – along the edges.
The cookie shell of the Pejoy tasted rather bland. I think it may have contained vanilla and butter, but the flavor was so neutral that it teetered on the edge of being savory in comparison to the sweeter filling.
The off-white, grainy-looking filling was creamy on the tongue, but it lacked flow. The texture was fine, but the rippling ribbons of cheesecake filling depicted on the box made me expect something a bit more luxurious. I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed.
Similarly, the tangy cream cheese scent of the sticks made me expect a similarly sweet and tangy flavor. Alas, the filling turned out to taste sweet with a dairy-ness to it, but it wholly lacked in tanginess.
For me, tangy creaminess is the best part of cheesecake. These Pejoy captured the essence of cheesecake in scent but not taste. While they were a nice snack, they weren’t a cheesecake snack, so they get an O.
Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), cookie, O, review |
1 Comment »
July 8th, 2011 by Rosa
I received this pack of Hi-Chew Mango as a free sample from Morinaga USA, along with my packs of Hi-Chew Peach and Banana. I thought I’d already reviewed them, but it turns out I had just written a news post about them.
The Hi-Chews had an orange-yellow center surrounded by an off-white shell that didn’t photograph well. Just imagine this, but slightly more orangey. The flavor, however, was flawless!
It tasted just like a fresh, juicy, perfectly ripe mango. I have no words to describe it other than as a perfect distillation of real mango into a candy chew.
As the sticky chewiness developed, the unique mango seediness became stronger and lingered a bit in the finish. I found it intoxicatingly delightful and almost better than the real thing. An OMG.
Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chewy, Morinaga, OMG, review |
1 Comment »
June 22nd, 2011 by Rosa
I found these Cadbury Choclairs in the Chinese equivalent of a mini-mart. I didn’t know exactly what to expect – based on the packaging, I thought that they would be blueberry-flavored chocolate.
Instead, they turned out to be little caramels with a blueberry flavored center. It looks like I wound up with the blueberry version of Neil’s Cadbury hazelnut treat.
The caramels were soft and chewy, with a texture similar to that of Starbursts, only grainier and not quite as sticky. The caramel flavor was rather boring, just generically sweet with a one-dimensional caramel flavor.
The center filling was where it went all wrong for me. It tasted weirdly artificial with dark plummy undertones that really didn’t mesh with the caramel at all.
In fact, the combination was downright off-putting. A –.
Category: --, Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), Cadbury, caramel, review |
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June 20th, 2011 by Rosa
I got a pack of Hi-Chew Banana from Morinaga USA in the same box that had my Hi-Chew Peach sample. I wasn’t too enthusiastic about trying it because I generally really don’t like banana flavored candies.
Artificial banana is not my thing. Banana Runts? Run away!
Fortunately, the Hi-Chew banana didn’t taste artificial at all! Instead, its banana flavor was surprisingly genuine, like the actual fruit instead of some chemical approximation.
The chew started off with a mild sweetness and just a hint of banana scent. As I chomped away, the overtones of real banana flavors became stronger before ceding ground back to a pleasantly fruity sweetness not unlike the base flavor of the Peach.
This isn’t my favorite Hi-Chew flavor, but I enjoyed it much more than I expected to. Kudos to Hi-Chew for making banana not just palatable but even enjoyable. An O.
Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chewy, Morinaga, O, review |
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June 15th, 2011 by Rosa
I’ve reviewed Hi-Chew several times on this site. Most of them were gifts from friends or businesses in Asia, so some of them were flavors that aren’t sold in the U.S. The Hi-Chew that I’m reviewing today is U.S.-specific.
The company that makes Hi-Chew, Morinaga, has a U.S. subsidiary that sells Hi-Chew in strawberry, green apple, mango, melon, banana, and grape flavors. And as of last month’s Sweets and Snacks Expo, a peach Hi-Chew flavor is now available in the U.S. I got a free sample pack to review from Morinaga.
The Peach Hi-Chew had a light pink center and a lightly floral scent. It started off with a very mild, not very sweet flavor. As its bouncy chew developed, however, the sweetness grew.
Honestly, it didn’t taste much like peach to me. It just tasted mild and floral and sweet, maybe more like a muted strawberry. I was surprised, as Hi-Chew is usually really spot-on with their fruit flavors.
Though it wasn’t as peachy as I would have liked, it was still quite enjoyable with its pleasantly light flavor. An OM.
Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chewy, Morinaga, OM, review |
3 Comments »