Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Crunky - Kagoshima Purple Potato Tart

 Click HERE to view the product at napaJapan

Name: Crunky
Maker: Lotte
Flavor: Kagoshima Sweet Purple Potato Tart
Size: 49 grams (12 individually wrapped pieces)
Release Date: June 2010
Best Before Date: May 2011

Packaging - Colorful purple and yellow box that tears easily on the top for easy access. This product is part of a Sakamoto Ryoma series released by Lotte. Sakamoto was a famous samurai in southern Japan (where purple potatoes are in abundance.) There is currently a daily TV drama on in Japan telling his story. The box contains silver foil, individually wrapped mini sectional chocolates. Great for sharing!

At First Glance - There is a Lotte logo stamped twice on each chocolate piece. The chocolate is a light purple and when flipped over the rice puffs can be seen poking through. Has a delightfully sweet marshmallow chocolate aroma similar to Rice Crispy Squares. If your hands are warm you will quickly melt the chocolate so quickly pop it in your mouth.

What's Inside - There is a ton of crunch in these mini bars which is surprising since they are quite flat. The rice puffs are extremely small but there are many embedded throughout each piece. The purple potato chocolate is consistent throughout.

The Taste - If you like sweet chocolate you will love this product. It also has an earthy potato side to it which doesn't feel out of place. In fact it reminds me a lot of the traditional Japanese confectionery you find in tourist areas of Japan (Daigaku Imo) It has a complex flavor due to the 3 components of chocolate, purple potato, and rice crisps. The after taste is extremely pleasant.

Extra Info - These didn't last long and I didn't share them as I had suggested. They were just too darn good! Despite the long shelf life limited edition Lotte products are usually not on shelves for long. In fact when Lotte introduces new flavors they tend to pull the active ones so be sure to snap up a few if you want to savor them until spring 2011.

Nutritional Information (per 1 piece of chocolate 3.9 grams):
Energy - 22 Calories
Protein - 0.2 grams
Fat - 1.3 grams
Carbohydrates - 2.2 grams
Sodium - 5 milligrams

Ten Star rating - 9/10 Crispy, sweet and addictive. I think I will use the word CRUNKY to describe snacking satisfaction!

If you like this product, or what you read in the review, I recommend the following products:

 Crunky - Cookies and Cream           Caramels - Kokutou

Happy Snacking!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fran - Crispy Milk

Click HERE to view product at napaJapan
Name: Fran
Flavor: Crispy Milk
Size: 48 grams (9 sticks)
Release Date: May 2010
Best Before Date: January 2011

Packaging - I always like silver as a package color and with the beautiful swirl graphics of milk, cookies and chocolate, this is one of my favorite designs of the year. Package opens from the top along the perforated line as seen in the photo below. This reveals 3 dark brown shiny foil packets each containing 3 deluxe sticks. These packets tear easily at the top for easy access.

At First Glance - Comparing to Pocky (the standard) is what I must do because most readers are familiar with it. The first thing I notice is how thick the chocolate is poured onto each stick. Pocky spares the chocolate granted they give you thinner sticks, and more in each box. But this stick contains more than one kind of chocolate; the white milk layer is teasing me by poking out the bottom. The crushed cookie bits are clearly present though smaller than I expected them to be. Unlike Pocky the actual cookie stick is chocolate and more airy. I know Pocky makes a Dessert stick which has volume but these look more dense and I can't wait to try them. The smell is very sweet cocoa much like the residue found at the bottom of a hot chocolate cup in the winter after a long day of sledding.

What's Inside - Biting about 2 cm of the Fran from the top of the stick reveals a wonderful cross-section. You can see a white ring of while milk flavored chocolate between the outer brown chocolate and the cookie stick. The cookie bits embedded in the outer chocolate are definitely smaller than anticipated.

The Taste - Whenever I see companies advertising the taste of 'milk' in their goods I never know what I am going to get. Usually with regards to chocolate it just means a creamier taste. But I actually felt that Meiji pulled this one off. I get the milk flavor at the start and at the end of the eating process. In the middle I found the cookie textures come through. Those mini crushed bits are quite hard and compliment the inner, airy chocolate stick quite well. You realize that you are getting 4 distinct flavors within each bite: milk chocolate, 'MILK' white chocolate, chocolate cookie, and white cookie bits. I have said it before and it is worth saying again...Meiji is my favorite mass-produced chocolate maker in Japan. Their chocolate wows me every time.

Extra Info - I drank coffee with the 2nd pack and it added to my snacking enjoyment. Since the sticks are quite thick they travel quite well. No breakage found in any of the 3 packets. Even if you don't like white chocolate you will probably still like these. My only complaint is that there were only 9 sticks but really the volume was sufficient at 48 grams as it compares to what you get with Pocky.

Nutritional Information (per 3 sticks):
Energy - 88 Calories
Protein - 1.4 grams
Fat - 5.1 grams
Carbohydrates - 9.1 grams
Sodium - 20 milligrams

Ten Star rating - 9.5/10 (no complaints here. my type of snack! I will save the 0.5 score for something that may blow my socks off in the future)

If you like this product, or what you read in the review, I recommend the following products:

               Aero - Hokkaido Milk                         Fran - Salty Milk

Happy Snacking!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hokkaido Melon Chewing Gum

Click HERE to view product at napaJapan
Name: Hokkaido Melon Chewing Gum
Maker: Lotte
Flavor: Cantaloupe (Yubari) Melon
Size: 27 grams (9 sticks)
Release Date: June 2010
Best Before Date: no date stated as gum has a very long shelf life

Packaging - Pleasant two-tone green shiny outer wrap that opens at one end. Each stick of gum is wrapped in foil with an additional outer paper wrap. These paper wraps have 4 designs as seen in the photo.

At First Glance - Upon unwrapping the gum stick there is a definite melon aroma that is surprisingly quite natural. The stick is finely dusted with which looks like flour and the color is a pale orange. The gum stick is quite soft and does not break when bent. In fact the stick can be bent into a loop quite easily. I am thinking this will be a nice chew.

What's Inside - After examining the white dusting on the gum I found that it is a sweet sugar but that this is not the main source of melon flavor. Licking away this sugar turned the stick a darker orange but it still remained paler than anticipated. This is probably a good thing as I doubt I need any more dye in my body.

The Taste - If you enjoy cantaloupe melon you will love this gum. I was surprised how much flavor it had in its first chew. Do not be worried about an over-ripe flavor. Lotte has created a taste that captures cantaloupe melons in their prime ripeness stage. The first few minutes of chewing brought me sweetness but also sourness which I really enjoyed. Flavor started to wane at about the 15 minute mark. At 30 minutes I still have it in my mouth but I will be getting rid of it soon or refreshing with a new piece. I would say flavor lasts about the same as any other piece of stick gum.

Extra Info - This is not a bubble blowing friendly product. Buy it for the flavor rather than for the mouth play. The gum gets quite tough after 15 minutes. Hokkaido is well-known for its Yubari Melons (cantaloupe variety.) Every summer the first 'perfect' melon sells for thousands of dollars! At napaJapan you can snap this pack up for only $1.99. Why pay thousands to enjoy the flavor of Hokkaido? ;)

Nutritional Information (9 sticks):
Energy - 78 Calories
Protein - 0 grams
Fat - 0 grams
Carbohydrates - 20 grams
Sodium - 0 milligrams

Ten Star rating - 8/10 (accurate flavor and I enjoyed it despite not loving cantaloupe. wished the sour flavor stuck around a little longer)

If you like this product, or what you read in the review, I recommend the following products:

                 Choco Ball Melon                Yubari Caramel Melon

Happy Snacking!