It’s time to continue my journey exploring all the Japanese candies and snacks I brought from Japan. In [Part 1] Japanese Snacks Galore I tasted 6 different snacks, all on the scale of unique, weird and surprising (a snack that looks and smells like a dog treat anyone?). Today we’re going to embark on another adventure, tasting no less than 15 treats. Here’s hoping that they’re as tasty as they’re weird.
Collon are soft and thin wafer tubes filled with airy cream in different flavors such as Vanilla, Blueberry, Green Tea and more. My romance with Collon started back at 2014 in San Francisco. Looking for Asian snacks I encountered this box of sweets. While Collon doesn’t sound like the most appetizing food item, it’s hands down one of my most favorite candy. At one of the souvenirs shops in Divercity Tokyo Plaza I spotted these giant Collon tubes and I could not pass the opportunity to take one home with me.
The Maid Cookies come in a very appealing package, complete with artwork by the famous artist Aoi Nishimata, but are ultimately disappointing. I got it in a store in Akihabara which stocked video games and anime merchandise, along with some interesting snacks and other candy boxes. The box includes 6 maple cookies and 6 milk cookies. The cookies are individually wrapped and embedded with illustrations of different maids and cats, which is very kawaii indeed.
There’s really nothing special about them, just simple butter cookies. They are pretty decent with a great crunchy texture. However, I didn’t taste anything milky about them. The maple cookie had a maple-y scent but tasted pretty much the same as the milk cookie. I guess the only reason people would buy these is because of the pretty packaging. I will probably eat the rest with a cup of coffee. Very useful information, I know.
Next I tasted two kinds of Daifuku, which I also bought from the same store in Akihabara. Daifuku is a traditional Japanese confection made from mochi (rice cake) stuffed with sweet filling. The mochi itself doesn’t have much flavor, but the texture is very unique – chewy, gummy and sticky. I think it can best be described as a more delicate but stickier gummy worm. Turns out this texture has a name – ‘Q Texture‘, and although “gummy” and “rubbery” are not usually appealing ways to describe our food, they provide an added dimension to the eating experience.
The first Daifuku, and my favorite among the two is Shobon (‘· ω · `) Daifuku. The cute packaging with the big emoticon just caught my eyes and I had to take it, without knowing what’s inside. I was surprised to find chocolate powdered daifuku with sweet banana filling, which were amazingly tasty. The Shobon emoticon is used to convey depression. It’s beyond me why it was chosen to describe something so sweet and yummy.
The second daifuku box I bought contained 8 pieces filled with Ichigo Cream (strawberry). They were softer and less gummy than the Shobon daifuku. This box also had a cute packaging with an illustration of a maid holding strawberries. Overall they were delicious, but I preferred the Shobon daifuku much better.
Another ichigo cream daifuku I tasted (pictured top), was on the more industrial side, making me much more appreciative of daifuku box from Akihabara. It has the same soft texture but the filling and overall taste felt mass produced.
Also disappointing is the Chokoman (チョコまん) which is basically marshmallow filled with chocolate. After one bite you come to realize nothing about it connects, and everything about it feels cheap.
My favorite salty snack, which by now has become my favorite snack, is the Ohgiya Noriten, which are seaweed tempura chips. They are crunchy, tasty and so addictive It’s dangerous – I can go through a bag of these in a heartbeat. 100 gram consists of over 500 calories so it’s a good thing I can’t get them in Israel. Another downside is that they are pretty oily. I fell in love with this snack back when I was in San Francisco, and looked for them in Tokyo. To my disappointment I couldn’t find them anywhere but in one small store at Shimokitazawa. Once I did, I grabbed pretty much their entire inventory.
Another favorite is the Kotsubukko Rice Cracker. This is a snack I already knew and looked for in Tokyo. Luckily I was able to find small bags of it in Daiso (100 yen store). The packaging of this snack is cute and childish, with pictures of the snack itself and somehow both art styles blend well. If wondering, like me, why there’s a milk bottle on the package, it’s because it is made with milk powder from Hokkaido. Inside are small pieces of golden and fried rice crackers with a mild soy flavor. They are very similar to the spicy rice crackers you can get in Israeli supermarkets, but to my taste are much better.
Calbee is a major Japanese snack food company creating various potato chips snacks. They also opened a store at Takeshita-dori in Harajuku, back at 2011, where you can taste freshly fried potato chips (drizzle with cheese, chocolate and more) and bring home chips from around Japan. Their snacks are also available pretty much everywhere, so you won’t have any trouble finding them. For ¥50 ($0.5\1.5₪) I got myself a bag of Calbee Sapporo Potato – BBQ flavor, which served me as a great breakfast meal 😉 The texture is much nicer then a regular potato chip, and it’s much thicker. The BBQ flavor was subtle and light. Verdict: LIKE!
This one has the cutest packaging, which stands as complete contrast to the fact the snack itself looks like really tiny poo. Even before tasting, the smell emanating from the bag is intimidating. Muraoka Foods, the manufacturer, claims it’s made from Chinese artichoke (Stachys Affinis) and is plum flavored. The texture is also surprising – you’d think it’s as soft as gummy but in essence it’s really hard. The actual taste is appalling. Be happy that I took this one for the team, so you didn’t have to.
The next ones can all be categorized under Dagashi Candies. What is Dagashi you wonder?
While originally meaning low quality candies, the word Dagashi evolved to describe cheap candies that children can afford to purchase with their allowance. There’s a wide variety of Dagashi types, from chocolate and cookies to juice powder, flavored squid(!) and everything in between. Some even include prizes or surprises inside. They were really popular with Japanese kids in the 60’s and 70’s, and were even sold by specialty Dagashi stores. Nowadays, though, you can mostly find them in 100-yen shops and convenience stores. Many of the Dagashi snacks I tried were bought in Super Potato, the retro gaming store in Akihabara.
The USA Fried Potato (¥30\$0.2\1₪) had nothing American in it. It tastes as if someone forgot to put spice in the chips. Next.
This one had the most weird packaging a snack can have with a little piggy that kind of looks like Hitler. And the flavor? Blah
The Big Katzsu is another bargain, for just ¥30 you’ll get flat shredded fish surimi covered in breadcrumbs. Well, why not have Tonkatsu\pork cutlet on the go? After tasting this you’ll know why. Not sure what was the motive behind this but no matter what it was, it failed. This stiff chewy thingy is far from edible.
The snack on the top left with the ox in the red packaging, is a type of beef jerky that costs ¥70\$0.5\2.31₪. While it smells like beef jerky combined with dog food, the texture is like that of paper. This kind of takes from the fun of eating beef jerky which is usually much harder with more fiber and juices.
The one with the squid shape in the yellow packaging, was one of the messiest snacks I ever encountered. At ¥20\$0.1\0.6₪, it’s oozy and super sticky and supposedly taste like kimchi. Even Blizzard the dog didn’t want to lick my fingers after touching it (and that’s saying something). It smells like a sugary cleaning detergent and tastes like and old rotten fish. The aftertaste is not unlike that feeling you get when finally have to do that chore you’ve been putting off for too long. It’s beyond me how it’s being sold alongside sweets, but then again – Japan.
This is not the end. Stay tuned for part 3!