Saturday, October 22, 2016

Hi-Chew - A Japanese Candy Pioneer

Since 1975, Morinaga's Hi Chew has been pleasing mouths, both young and old. It was created as an alternative to chewing gum as Japanese culture frowned upon removing food from the mouth after beginning to eat. On a consumer level, food is rarely wasted or discarded so there was a market for a candy that had lasting time, yet could also be digested.
Hi-Chew Cranberry Blueberry
Even in the early years, tourists would stock up on these popular candy chews. Hi Chew differs from a lot of candy found outside of Japan. It is not so hard on the teeth like a typical chewy caramel. Plus, they have very accurate flavors without adding too much sweetness, avoiding that sickening artificial taste. Each rectangular shaped piece has a two tone look, usually white on the outside with the color of the fruit on the inside. There are many variations though, especially on the Japanese releases.
Hi-Chew Banana
If you think you have tried the whole Hi Chew menu, you may be wrong. Morinaga has also released Premium types which utilize real fruit juice and have a harder shell. There are also mini chews that are an assorted fruit collection. When you travel around Japan you will likely come across exclusive regional versions such as Hokkaido Yubari Melon, where napaJapan is located. Also, you can sample multiple flavors in one pack as variety bags are released a few times each year.
Hi-Chew Hokkadio MelonHi-Chew Premium Grape
Recently the popularity of Hi Chew exploded past Japanese borders into dozens of countries. The international flavors are not so exotic when compared to the tastes and varieties available in Japan. That is why napaJapan provides the whole product line-up and delivers throughout the world. Please come by and see what is in store today. We always have over 20 different flavors and varieties!
Hi-Chew Mini Fruit Mix
Please feel free to leave a comment about your favorite Hi Chew flavor, or why not tell us what flavor you would love to see Morinaga create.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Japanese Cheetos & Doritos - A Review

 Cheetos Nori Shio Doritos Taco & Avocado
If you are a savory snack fan like me, Japan is a perfect place to get your fix. The varieties, flavors, and formats of products is so immense that you could try a different snack every day and never get bored. Whether it is a rice cracker, potato chip, corn chip, shrimp crisp, or pretzel you choose, you will still need to make more decisions on flavor, size, and price.
As far as tastes go, there tends to be a lot of flavors found in Japanese cooking ingredients such as Soy Sauce, Wasabi, Yuzu, and Hot Mustard, to name a few. Seafood, Chicken Soup Stock Consomme, Beef, and Pork are other popular bases.
Japanese snack manufacturers tend to offer multiple sizes of the same product calling them "mini" or "mega" or offering them in different shapes or packaging. Pricing can vary a lot too depending on brands, ingredient contents, and pack size.
I always tend to gravitate towards the international brands where I know I will be getting something familiar, all be it with a unique twist to the flavoring. That is why this post is going to be dedicated to a couple famous brands of corn snacks: Doritos and Cheetos. Both are made by Frito-Lay Japan and both are released in numerous flavors every year.
I still recall chomping away on Tuna Mayonnaise Doritos one cloudy afternoon, while washing them down with a Cucumber flavored Pepsi. Yes...the wild flavors don't stop at salty snacks. Chocolate covered Cheetos provided me with another eating experience that is ingrained in my mind. The milk chocolate sweetness combined with the salty corn created an addicting combination. Too bad that those releases are no longer in production.

Well, 2016 was no different when it comes to odd, limited-edition Frito-Lay flavors.
Check out some of these recent ones that took the internet by storm.
 Doritos Halloween Black Garlic & Pepper
Doritos Black Garlic and Black Pepper. Not only are these cool looking chips but the package design is a piece of art. The shiny black bag has a spooky haunted vibe to it as it was released prior to Halloween. I found the chips almost had a sweet taste however when the garlic kicked in you soon forgot about that. The black pepper added an extra dimension which made these stand out. 9/10

Along the same Halloween theme came these wonderfully unique Cheetos. Called "Bag of Bones" due to their white appearance and skeleton shape, the real intrigue was with the flavor: Yogurt! In all my years I don't recall once having the urge to dip my Cheetos into a tub of yogurt. Well, Frito-Lay Japan has made that possible with one product. Odd but strangely tasty. 7/10

Doritos Wasabi & Soy Sauce is a very popular product as it has a perfect balance of spiciness and savory mellowness. You just can't go wrong with these two flavors mixed together. If you love sushi you probably already drown wasabi in your soy sauce. On a corn chip it tastes great too. 8/10

Cheetos Ex Spicy. Wear gloves! Do not touch any part of your body after eating these until you wash your hands thoroughly! These are HOT! So hot that I couldn't properly enjoy them. They ruined my taste buds for the rest of the afternoon. The adventurous eater would surely enjoy them more than I did. 6/10

There still may be limited quantities of these available so please check HERE for the latest stock, including new flavors!
Please drop me a line or leave a comment on this blog if you want to share any of your Doritos or Cheetos eating experiences.
Happy snacking!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

New napaJapan site!


Use the code on the bottom banner to save 10% on all of your October 2016 orders.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mentos - Ume (Japanese Plum)

Mentos - Ume
I always enjoy trying worldwide-known sweets and snacks that utilize Japanese flavors. Kit Kat and Doritos are two famous brands that first come to mind. Mentos is another. This is a re-release from a few years back. It was popular then and I predict it to be just as sought after this time around. "Ume" is often translated as Japanese plum (or apricot) which is a golf ball sized fruit that contains a pit. It is very sour with a Western plum zest, but also has a fragrant flower-like taste. Japanese people also enjoy them pickled as "Umeboshi" where they become ever more sour. How will these Mentos match up in flavor?

Japanese Mentos are actually made in Holland by Perfetti Van Melle Breda but are distributed by Kraft Foods in Tokyo. The wrapper is bright and colorful with the flavor written in both Japanese and English. The 14 chewy dragees (Dutch talk for candies) are sealed nicely in bright pink foil within the 14cm long tube wrapper. Each candy is approximately 2 cm in diameter and 1 cm thick.

14 light-pink colored Mentos per tube
When first placing the candy on my tongue I sense an icing sugar flavor with the ever so slight taste of plum flower extract. Even after a minute of sucking the semi-rough, hard outer layer there is very little Ume coming through. Then the candy becomes smooth to a glass-like finish and bursts of flavorful plum come through. I enjoy this for a few seconds longer and finally start to chew it. There it is! That wonderful balance of sweet and sour Ume is filling my mouth making me very satisfied. Right down to the last chew the strong Ume flavor remains and I am quick to put another dragee in my mouth. Wonderful stuff! No wonder this was a hit in the 2000s.

A great feature about Mentos is that they have a very long shelf life. The expiry date on these is August 2013 (nearly two years from when I write this blog post.) Stock up so you can enjoy them for a long time. Limited edition flavors like this do not stay on store shelves for long. We offer all the current flavors HERE.

Please leave a comment about your most memorable Mentos experience. I thank you for reading this post and encourage you to share this with your friends if they have not seen such a product. napaJapan specializes in hard-to-find flavors and products from Japan. Come by anytime and see what is in store.

Happy Snacking!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pepsi Pink - Strawberry and Milk

Pepsi Pink - Strawberry and Milk

It is that time of year again for another odd Pepsi Cola product release from Japan. This time I am sampling a mismatch of flavors in one bottle: cola, strawberry, milk, and pink. Yes, pink has now become a flavor and I will try to explain this further down in this post.

This is one flavor I was really anticipating mainly because it looked so different than previous limited edition Pepsi releases and also I was curious how much of a role the cola taste would take on. The curvy bottle contains 490 mL of cloudy pink soda that is not overly carbonated and has a very sweet fruity strawberry fragrance. It pours into my glass with a full white head of tiny bubbles which subside quickly afterwards.

I gingerly took the first sip to record the first flavor that hit me. Definite strawberry or 'ichigo' as the Japanese say. But it wasn't the typical strawberry taste you find in Hi Chew or Pocky chocolate. This had the cream-filled, syrupy strawberry taste enjoyed in the Japanese summer shaved ice treat Kakigori. The deluxe Kakigori is combined with condensed milk and perhaps that is why milk is in the product's flavor name. The carbonation kept me thinking soda so my brain was fooled into being refreshed despite its sweetness. Identifying the cola was more of a challenge. After swishing it around in my mouth for a few seconds I did begin to detect the cola but it was more of a metallic taste. Good metallic taste, if that is possible. I think the strawberry just masked most of the cola flavor present which was slightly disappointing because it is supposed to be a Pepsi Cola product. So it didn't exactly taste like real strawberry, milk, or cola. The only word I have to summarize the taste is: Pink.

Pepsi Pink would make a perfect mixing drink whether it is with ice cream, milk, or an alcohol of your choice. It is a very different beverage and I think it is worth a try. Let me know what you think of the flavor(s) by responding to this blog. Please follow us to keep up to date with new popular Japanese candy products. Or check our site HERE.

More candy reviews to come this month.
Happy snacking!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Doritos Gourmet - Clam Chowder

Doritos Gourmet - Clam Chowder

Just when you thought Frito Lay Japan had run out of flavor ideas they spring another at us. Fortunately, for my sake, they chose New England over Manhattan style clam chowder as a flavoring. I long miss those lunches at Tim Horton's in Canada where my creamy clam chowder was served in a bread bowl. I hope the flavoring here comes close to that eating experience.

With Doritos I can usually tell if I am going to enjoy the flavor after a few seconds of opening the bag. This golden-brown foil bag contains 75 grams of classic triangular corn chips, however the corners may be more rounded than you are used to. Also, these Gourmet edition Doritos are thicker and double fried for maximum crispiness. A definite "clammy" aroma drifts from the bag however it is not a strong sickly seafood smell. There is more cream present in the fragrance which indicates to me that these will be rich.

When testing a Doritos flavor for the first time I always like to lick the seasoning off one side of the chip to test for accuracy. Each chip is dotted with parsley and onion bits along with fine salty flavoring powder. You can really notice the heavy fry these chips received as there is almost a shiny appearance on parts of each morsel. Surprisingly the lick did not release much of the flavor as the ingredients seem to be sealed into the chip. Sure enough, after munching on the first chip an incredible amount of creamy clam chowder soup flavor, with a emphasis on clam, was released into my mouth. The crunchiness added to the experience since it reminded me of crushed crackers. This is probably one of the most accurate and delicious Doritos flavor I have tried in some time.

Now the nutritional value alert. This personal sized bag of Doritos carries 412 Calories, 24.9 grams of fat and 503 mg of sodium. Not the healthiest snack ever made but it is worth giving in for at least one day. I ate these without a beverage since I didn't want to lose any of the flavor profile but I can see these going well with beer, wine, or cola. Why not wait until November and order a new Japanese Strawberry & Milk Pepsi Cola to wash them down with?

We always carry a bunch of fresh salty snacks in a variety of flavors. Whether it is Cratz, Pringles, Pretz, or Cheetos you are after, we encourage you to click on the links to see what is in store. We ship to most countries in the world and always keep up to date with the current confectionery releases. Until next review....

Happy Snacking!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

LOOK Chocolate - Pudding Parfait

LOOK Pudding Parfait Chocolate Bar

Outside of Japan little is known about a wonderful sectional chocolate bar simply named LOOK. Manufactured by Fujiya, one of the oldest confectionery companies in Japan, this brand is released in about a dozen different flavors each year. Half of the releases are variety packs containing three or four tastes. Today I will review a mono-flavor pack of Pudding Parfait.

LOOK is usually sold in a thin, resealable, sturdy box wrapped in a foil packet and ordered neatly on a cardboard tray. There are always 12 pieces in the box (3 rows of 4 chocolates) and each piece has a letter, either L, O, or K carved into the face. This is useful for variety packs as you can determine the filling based on the letter. I should also note that there are two O variations, one with a double circle for differentiation. But on this day, all 12 pieces are the same pudding parfait flavor.
The packaging is well thought out and very protective

The presentation of LOOK is something I really admire. Fujiya goes to greater lengths over similar makers to provide actual individual pieces rather than a sectional bar. Each piece (2.5 x 2 x 1 cm) is extremely smooth and cut perfectly with no imperfections. This gives it a very high-end appearance. Even when I used a knife to cut the chocolate it broke cleanly in half to exhibit its two-tone center of parfait cream and caramel sauce. The sauce was a nice liquid consistency and sat above the whipped creamy icing. A strong sweet caramel, almost butterscotch, aroma filled my senses.
The 2 flavor filling is scrumptious

When I bit into the morsel I was surprised by how much it tasted like Japanese pudding. If you haven't tried this caramel topped yellow pudding before I am sure you will recognize it on the front of the box. Basically, it has a custard cream flavor with a strong, nearly burnt caramel sauce topping. We do sell the mix HERE if you want to try the actual pudding dessert.

LOOK pudding parfait is very addicting and I had trouble stopping after consuming 6 pieces. Fujiya's milk chocolate is second to only Meiji in my opinion when considering mass produced sweets in Japan. You can try freezing them too for a different eating experience. Whatever way you enjoy them I am certain that you will come back for different flavors in the future. napaJapan will have all of those for you as they are released.

If you want to use the chocolates as spelling blocks it is very limited. This is the best I came up with (OL meaning either old or office lady - really, OL is what women are sometimes referred as):
Ol' Kool Look, OK? ... I am sure you can do better.

Here are a couple other recent LOOK releases (click on the title to see in store):

4 Flavor Classic LOOK A LA MODE
Tiramisu with Rilakkuma!
Happy Snacking!