Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bontan Ame - Citrus Rice Candy

Bontan Ame Citrus Flavor Chewy Rice Candy
Growing up in Vancouver, Canada I had one of the largest Chinatown districts at my fingertips, on any chosen day. Mind you, most of those days were rainy. Anyhow, at the age of eight or nine I came across the most bizarre candy. This was unlike anything I had seen before as there were foreign Asian scribes and a cartoon animal adorning the rectangular box. I believe this candy promised a toy inside so that was probably the main reason I bought it. When I opened the box I found some brown/orange caramel looking chews individually wrapped in the thinnest of thin films. Trying to remove that film proved impossible and it in fact melted on my damp, sweaty, excited child fingers. "How does plastic melt?" I asked myself. I was reluctant to eat the candy at that point so I decided to consult with a expert in these matters, my older brother. To my surprise he had known of these candies for some time and let me in on these hidden gems.

Fast forward a few decades and I find myself living in Japan where strange and unique candy is commonplace. From Wasabi Kit Kat bars to Genghis Khan Roasted Lamb Flavored Caramel, I have pretty much seen it all. In fact, since moving here I have had no time to think about my first Asian candy treat...until today.

The Bontan Ame rice candies have always been standing on the store shelves in plain sight of me however I always overlooked them as some no-name, low budget fruity caramel. It was a customer of napaJapan who asked me to bring them in a few weeks ago. As with all customer requests, I took interest in getting more information about the product and finding a good supplier. I bought a pack to have a look and nearly screamed with excitement when I found out what Bontan Ame actually long lost Chinatown rice chews!

I believe Bontan Ame was distributed in North America as Botan (without the first n) and may have been produced in China. The Japanese original version does not come with a toy and it is actually available in pineapple too (Okinawa version.) The box design is very different from the import product I remember but the candy flavor is quite similar. Let's finally look at that now...

Notice the rice paper wrapping and fine rice powder on each chew. This outer wrap has very little flavor and when you first pop it in your mouth it feels like you are sucking on plastic. After about 10 seconds the film dissolves and the sweet citrus flavor fills your mouth. The consistency of the chew is similar to the inside of a very soft jellybean. It doesn't stick to your teeth like caramel does and the entire 5 gram candy can be consumed in a about a minute if chewed well.

The entire package contains 239 Calories and 0 grams of fat. It is a very satisfying candy and quite different than standard products on the marketplace. I would recommend this to everyone. In fact, it would make a very unique and well-received gift for anyone special in your life who has a sweet-tooth. If you haven't already clicked the link to the product you can do it HERE.

I encourage you to send me a message if there is a candy out there you are desperately seeking. We may just be able to track it down for you. I want you to have that same feeling I did when I rediscovered Bontan Ame again.

Happy Snacking!


  1. I have a similar story with a strange geographical twist to it. I know this candy from Hawaii, with a different name: Tomoe Ame. As a child, and in spite of the fact that I also grew up in Vancouver, I only knew the this candy from gifts sent from my great aunt who lived in Hawaii.

    As an adult I tried to look into the obvious Japanese source of the candy, but no Japanese person I met had ever heard of it. That changed when a Japanese friend bought some for me on a trip to Hawaii. He told me that it was a Japanese candy but probably only available in his hometown in Gifu.

    Now I find out it's available from napaJapan. That's good news!

  2. This is really sweet, I understand the feeling. Now I'm excited about these candies and want to try them, thank you for sharing! ^_^