Sunday, January 31, 2010

Corn Kit Kat - Hokkaido Limited Edition

I like corn. I like corn a lot and corn on the cob is one of my favorite things to eat in the summer. It's also one of those things that is strangely more delicious here in Japan. I'm still not sure what they put on it but whether I'm buying it at a festival booth, out of the back of an old lady's van, or eating it in school lunch, I love love love corn.

And since the Roasted Sweet Potato Kit Kat was surprisingly good I had pretty high hopes for the Corn Kit Kat. Corn is sweet. It's delicious. Thus it should be good as a Kit Kat. I would be very very wrong.

I got this box of Kit Kats as omiyage from my Japanese friend Marie (mah-ree-ay) who bought it in Hokkaido. It's another mailer box that came with 5 Kit Kat minis and let me say that that was four Kit Kats too many. Each one is 68 calories. They are white chocolate but colored a nice buttery yellow color. They smell very nice - a mix of white chocolate and sweet corn.

But as nice as they smell, they taste horrible. I gagged on the first bite. It was all I could do to finish one mini. Normally, I eat at least two when I'm writing a review but the thought of eating another one was unthinkable. It tasted exactly like buttered corn. There's even a hint of salt at the end. And while that sounds good when I'm thinking of summer barbecues it is not good when I'm thinking of chocolate. The texture was all wrong. My brain tasted buttered corn and expected crunchy goodness and instead it got creamy chocolate with wafers. In this instance, Nestle went too literal with the taste, way way too literal. I think a milk chocolate bar with a hint of sweet corn might actually taste good but the Corn Kit Kat went too far. I cannot recommend this Kit Kat to anyone and now I have four Kit Kats sitting in my kitchen that I will NOT be eating.

Final Score: 2

Friday, January 29, 2010

Kit Kat Gokaku Mug

I've mentioned before the play on words that make Kit Kats a popular item to give students around exam time. Kitto katsu in Japanese translates to surely you will win. So a gokaku mug or pentagon shaped mug is a fitting promotion. Gokaku is a play on words that translates to luck. Since it's exam time here in Japan for stressed out junior high school students trying to get into a good high school as well as stressed out high school kids trying to get into a good college a good luck mug with a packet of Nescafe Cafe Au Lait and a Kit Kat bar makes for a nice encouraging gift.

If I didn't have around 400 students getting ready to graduate and move up to high school then I might buy them all one. Instead I will sit in my apartment, sipping Nescafe, and thanking God I'm no longer in school.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Calpis Kit Kat

I don't like Calpis. In part because it tastes like flat Fresca, but also because it looks suspiciously like skim milk despite claiming to be a soft drink. But mostly I don't like it because Calpis sounds like cow's piss and who would want to drink something called that? I do giggle every time my friend Miwa orders it though. And she gives me a strange look every time too. It's our tradition.

Usually I comment on how a particular Kit Kat is good but not as good as the real thing. But this time is different. The Calpis Kit Kat is a huge improvement over the real thing. I can say with confidence that I would rather have a Calpis Kit Kat than drink cow's piss...I mean Calpis.

They came in a bag of minis bought at my local supermarket and each mini is 69 calories. The Calpis Kit Kat is made with lemon smelling white chocolate. The chocolate itself has a nice mild lemon taste to it and the creme gives the bar a nice sour finish. Really other than the wrapper there is very little to indicate that this is a Calpis Kit Kat in particular. If you had blindfolded me and asked me to name that flavor I would have guessed lemon. Calpis has more of a lemon lime flavor to it. It's like a flat Seven-Up. But there was little hint of lime in the Calpis Kit Kat - more lemon than anything else. I'm not a huge fan of citrus-y flavored chocolate so this isn't going on my list of favorites but it was a decent Kit Kat. If you like lemon with your chocolate then I suggest checking it out.

Final Score: 6

Monday, January 25, 2010

Yubari Melon Kit Kat - Hokkaido Limited Edition

Japan is obsessed with brand names. Even certain fruits and other food items can be more expensive if they have the right name on the label. And I'm not kidding when I say expensive. A friend of mine tried strawberries that cost $10 a piece this weekend. I've seen mangoes advertised at 8,000 yen for one mango. That's $80! A melon from nowhere, Japan will sell for a lot cheaper than a melon from Yubari, Japan. The average price for the Yubari label is $60-$150. More expensive ones will set you back $200. The record price for a Yubari melon...$20,000!!! I sure hope it was covered in platinum.

The truth is that I never used to be a big melon fan. I would eat cantaloupe when my mom would buy it but too often it was pretty dry and disappointing. And I never touched the honeydew melon that was completely void of any taste that came in institutional fruit salads. But that was before I came to Japan - land of $200 melons. If you are going to charge 20,000 yen for something it better be good...damn good in fact.

Actually even the 1,000 yen ones are pretty amazing. It helps that my town is famous for melons. If you feel like spending some serious cash on a melon you can get one that was grown in a box so that it comes out square. Or if you're like me you're content with the round ones as long as it's so juicy you have to eat it standing over the sink (and they usually are.) I usually get a couple free during melon season thanks to my many farmer friends. I've even become a huge fan of Suntory's melon soda even though I've been informed that only kids drink it. Japan's melons are sugoi oishii.

That being said, I've never had a Yubari melon and because I'm frugal and don't think laying out a $100 for some melon is a good idea I'm going to guess that the closest I'm ever going to get to eating one is this regional limited edition Kit Kat. Too bad too because if they are anything like Tahara melons then I would be very happy to eat one. As it was the Yubari Melon Kit Kat was an okay substitute.

I got this box as omiyage from a friend who went to Hokkaido during winter vacation. It's another box designed to be sent through the post with five minis inside. Each mini is 66 calories. The first thing I noticed about them was that they are made with milk chocolate. If you are a regular reader of this blog then you know that I much prefer the milk chocolate over white so combined with my new found love for melons I was very excited to try this Kit Kat.

Upon opening the wrapper I could instantly smell melon. It smelled slightly artificial - like a melon soda - but it wasn't off putting. It had a very strong melon taste - more like cantaloupe than the green melon flavor you get with soda or other melon flavored sweets, which makes sense since Yubari melons are very similar to cantaloupes with an orange flesh rather than a green one. The chocolate has only a very slight melon flavor so I assume most of it is concentrated in the creme. I did note that the chocolate was nice and creamy in these bars, much more like a classic chocolate Kit Kat. Overall the bar was not too sweet. It was just the right balance of melon and chocolate.

I'll admit right now that I ate all 5 minis in one sitting. In part because I've just started working out again and that usually sends my appetite through the roof and in part because they were so delicious. It makes me sad actually to think that I don't have any more left to try, (until I remember the four Kit Kat varieties in my kitchen and several more recently ordered via the internet.) If you get a chance to try these definitely take it. And if you ever try a real Yubari melon then let me know! I want to know what a $200 melon actually tastes like.

Final score: 8.5

Friday, January 22, 2010

Purple Sweet Potato Kit Kat - Okinawa Limited Edition

I've mentioned before that one of the best parts about having a candy review blog is not only that you have a great excuse for eating a lot of chocolate (not that I've ever needed one) but that people start giving you candy. I recently got three boxes of Kit Kats as omiyage from friends.

This was another "mailer" souvenir box that came from my friend Kaoru. Although she delivered it by hand rather than mailing it since she just lives down the street from me. She got to go to Okinawa AND Hawaii this fall and was kind enough to bring me back souvenirs. The Purple Sweet Potato Kit Kat is a limited edition from Okinawa because these potatoes are native to that island. It's not exactly a unique flavor as you can see here and here, but it is a delicious one.

The box comes with 5 Kit Kat minis and is designed to be sent through the mail. Each mini is only 69 calories, made with white chocolate. Purple sweet potatoes really are purple - inside and out - and this Kit Kat strives to replicate that deep purple color. It's not quite the same hue but close enough. It smells strongly of sweet potatoes and with sweet potato flavor in the chocolate and creme it achieves a nice sweet potato taste as well.

I liked it. It was another great snacking experience from Nestle. But other than the color it was very similar to the Roasted Sweet Potato Kit Kat that I reviewed back in the fall. The Roasted Sweet Potato Kit Kat was maybe a touch sweeter than this one. It's hard to remember the finer details in taste, but in essentials this was the same flavor. You can do different variations on coffee and strawberry but there doesn't seem to be much to do with sweet potatoes. Maybe throw in some cinnamon and nutmeg and call it sweet potato pie? It makes me more confident than ever that I made the right decision not to buy the other sweet potato regional limited edition.

But despite the repeat in flavor it was one that I really liked so I don't think I'll have any problem finishing these off. Thanks again Kaoru for the great omiyage!

Final Score: 8

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Strawberry Kit Kat (again)

This reminds me of the enka song my friend Bob (not his real name) sings every time we go to karaoke. The chorus is mooooichido *clap, clap* mooooichido *clap, clap* something something mumble mumble mumble. Right, so I don't remember all the words (that's what the karaoke machine is for) but the moichido part translates to one more time *clap, clap* one more time *clap, clap*. So here we go one more time with another Strawberry Kit Kat. For past installations please see the first Strawberry Kit Kat, the Sparkling Strawberry Kit Kat, and the Strawberry Cheesecake Kit Kat.

The latest Strawberry Kit Kat came from a bag of minis found at my local grocery store. Each mini is only 66 calories but what sets these apart from the pack is that they are milk chocolate rather than white chocolate. So right there I'm a little happier and more inclined to like them. There is a strong but fake strawberry smell to them and the taste is pretty artificial as well with most of the strawberry flavor centered in the chocolate. The Sparkling Strawberry and the first Strawberry Kit Kat I tried had a sour note that this Strawberry Kit Kat lacked and I can't say that I missed it. It's a nice snack but I only wish it could taste a little more like the strawberries grown here in Tahara and less like an artificial additive.

And that's why strawberry flavored candies are not my favorite; they can't ever live up to the real thing. If I had to choose between a chocolate covered strawberry and a Strawberry Kit Kat (even a milk chocolate one) I would definitely go for the real strawberry. This latest incarnation of the Strawberry Kit Kat, however, is the best I've tried so far. And I look forward to trying Nestle's next stab at strawberry (right around this time next year if I had to guess.)

Final Score: 6

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Random Combination

I know the last time I had some mouth watering fudge I thought, "you know what would go with this? Some Camembert cheese!" Oh wait, that wasn't me, that was Nestle. I found this in a Lawson's in Aso and was so confused by the random pairing of Camembert and Fudge that I wasn't even sure that I was reading it right.

"Do you think this is cheese flavored Kit Kats or Kit Kat shaped cheese?" I asked my friend.

Turns out it was Fudge Kit Kats and Kit Kat shaped blobs of dehydrated cheese flavored sticks claiming to be Camembert. It might say "The Excellent" on the package but that would be false advertising. I'm not saying that cheese and chocolate can't go together (hello chocolate cheesecake!) but Japan has this weird thing about putting the wrong kinds of cheese with chocolate like the cheddar cheese chocolate I tried at 100% Chocolate Cafe in Tokyo.

It was, however, a good excuse to have some more Fudge Kit Kats. I just wish I could have had more of the chocolate and less of the fake cheese.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Milk Coffee Kit Kat

I've tried the Espresso Coffee Kit Kat, Tiramisu Kit Kat, Cafe Latte Kit Kat and now comes the Milk Coffee Kit Kat. That makes four. Four! I have tried four coffee flavored Kit Kats in the nine months I have been buying and blogging Kit Kats. It must be hard to keep up the pace they do releasing new flavors all the time so they aren't opposed to tweaking existing flavors and re-releasing them. But as long as they stick with the more delicious ones and don't decide to extend the Rose Kit Kat into a longer campaign of various flower flavors then I guess I won't complain. Because the truth is I like coffee and I like coffee-flavored Kit Kats.

The Milk Coffee Kit Kat comes in a box of two that proclaims that soon the cherry blossoms will bloom. about three months maybe. Right now it's time for long underwear and pocket warmers, but talking about sakura around New Year's is something of a tradition here in Japan. No weirder than talking about groundhogs in February I guess. Although I'm still not sure what Milk Coffee and cherry blossoms blooming have anything to do with each other...

Anyway, each bar is 100 calories. They are white chocolate with just the slightest hint of brown. They smell faintly of coffee, but nothing like the overpowering smell of the Cafe Latte Kit Kat minis. The taste is milder as well. The chocolate has a milk taste to it while the coffee flavor is concentrated in the creme. It's definitely delicious but it's doesn't scream COFFEE!!! like the Cafe Latte Kit Kat did. The problem with releasing so many varieties of what is essentially the same flavor is that I become more critical because I have something to compare it with. The Milk Coffee Kit Kat is a great snack and goes nicely with a cup of coffee but it doesn't stack up to the Cafe Latte Kit Kat, which is still easily one of my favorites.

Then again I don't drink my coffee with milk. I like it strong and sweet so if you like your coffee white then you might prefer this coffee variety over the Cafe Latte.

Final Score: 7

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Green Tea Kit Kat - Kyoto Limited Edition

I've reviewed the Green Tea Kit Kat once before. That one came in a mixed bag of minis and wasn't my favorite. This one came from a box of Limited Edition Kit Kats from Kyoto. Now I know there are different kinds of green tea. There is the really thick kind that looks like pea soup and is served in a bowl and tastes bitter but goes well with sweets. And there is the less thick kind served in cups. But please don't ask me which is which when it comes to these Kit Kats because I have no idea. I've tried looking it up but my Japanese kanji skills are failing me. If anyone knows better than me then please chime in.

Like the other regional limited edition boxes this had 12 minis in it, each only 69 calories. My friend Kristin bought these in Kyoto Station when she was here visiting me and was nice enough to let me have two in order to review. (Apparently I am breaking a tie in her office as to whether these are good or not.)

I wasn't a huge fan of the first Green Tea Kit Kat I tried. It didn't really taste like green tea and it had a very unpleasant aftertaste. This one, however, wasn't as bad. It smelled of matcha and it had a darker green tint to it than the last one. Despite the extra green dye it had a milder green tea taste than the last one. It was very sweet thanks to the white chocolate and the matcha taste was very mellow. It almost smelled more like green tea than it tasted. There was none of the bitterness that I associate with a bowl of tea here in Japan. But that's not a bad thing. You always have a sweet with your tea and in a way you could say that Nestle has combined both the tea and the sweet into one package. I wish it had been a little bit more bitter but I feel that way about most of the white chocolate Kit Kat.

Overall, it was a nice snacking experience. I'm not sure I would buy another box and I'm glad I only had the two to eat but it was much better than the last Green Tea Kit Kat I tried so thanks Kyoto for another delicious Kit Kat!

Final Score: 7

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Yuzu Kosho Kit Kat - Kyushu Limited Edition

So what is a Yuzu Kosho Kit Kat? It's Yuzu Citrus and Japanese Chili Flavor and it's a limited special edition from the island of Kyushu. Yuzu are small yellow citrus fruits that are similar to a mikan orange or grapefruit. The juice and rinds are used in many different recipes but I was told by the little old ladies giving them to me not to eat them like I would eat an orange. Instead they said I should put them in my bath to ward off colds. The traditional time to do this is the night of the winter solstice and it's supposed to bring you good luck and keep you healthy. I can't say if that's true or not because my yuzu are still in the kitchen waiting to be used up, but it's definitely yuzu season because everywhere I look there are yuzu products being offered. My favorite is a hot yuzu and honey drink.

Yuzu Kosho is a spicy sauce made with yuzu, green or red chili peppers, and salt. You can see all three pictured on the box of the Yuzu Kosho Kit Kat. I've not run into this in any cuisine I've tried but I would love to taste it. Japanese food isn't really known for being spicy so anything with a little more kick would be a welcome treat. This Kit Kat certainly had more kick than usual.

Like the other Regional Limited Edition Kit Kats this came in a box of 12 for 810 yen. Each mini is 67 calories. I bought this particular box in the train station in Kumamoto near the beginning of my trip. The Yuzu Kosho Kit Kat is made with a little bit darker chocolate than a regular Kit Kat - so right there it's already winning with me. It smells more like dark chocolate than it did of yuzu. The yuzu flavor is concentrated more in the chocolate and the chili is between the wafers. It starts off with a nice chocolate citrus flavor and ends with a spicy note. The more you eat the more the spiciness builds up.

I mentioned with the Wasabi Kit Kat that I would be interested in trying other spicy varieties of chocolate and this Kit Kat certainly fits that bill. Unlike the Wasabi Kit Kat, I really liked this one. Maybe it was the dark chocolate. Or maybe the addition of the yuzu to balance out the flavor or maybe it wasn't as spicy as the Wasabi Kit Kat but I really liked the Yuzu Kosho Kit Kat. It was the perfect blend of sweet and spicy.

Because I bought this towards the beginning of my trip I started putting one or two in my purse to snack on throughout the day while I did touristy things in Aso, Beppu, and Fukuoka. Usually I have trouble getting through these larger boxes but I only have one of these left! If you get a chance to try these I say you take it.

Final Score: 8

Monday, January 4, 2010

Mild Bitter Kit Kat

I'm back from vacation in Kyushu and I find I have a backlog of Kit Kats to review. Some I've tried and just haven't posted and some others have been pushed aside in favor of holiday treats and the large package of Dark Chocolate Reese's my wonderful mother sent me for Christmas. I'll try to get back on track this week and should keep busy for several weeks more. Coming soon are Limited Edition Kit Kats from Kyushu, Okinawa, and Kyoto, random Kit Kat promotions involving cheese and coffee cups, and one more strawberry variety.

Today, however, is a special edition so special I figured I wouldn't ever be trying it because even though I am wholly committed to my Kit Kat mission I am not about to seek out the one store in Tokyo that carries it. But orchid64 over at Japanese Snack Reviews graciously sent me some to try.

These Kit Kat minis came in a bag of 14 sold only in Okashi Omachioka - a discount snack shop found around Tokyo. (I've mentioned I don't live in Tokyo, right? Because I don't. Not anywhere close. I live in the inaka out among the cabbage fields. I ride past a pig farm on my way to work. It's great, just not always conducive to finding the latest Kit Kat varieties.)

Each bar is 66 calories and covered in a darker chocolate than you get with a regular Kit Kat. The name Mild Bitter Kit Kat implies that the chocolate is dark but the real emphasis here is on mild. It is not a very dark chocolate - only slightly more bitter than the milk chocolate of a regular Kit Kat. I'm a huge fan of dark chocolate so you can take my assessment with a grain of salt, but I would have liked it to be darker. It promised but didn't deliver. The chocolate is a tad drier as well and overall the bar is a bit crisper, but overall the taste is not too far off a normal Kit Kat. It may be exclusive but it is hardly exotic.

Still, it was a good Kit Kat. I liked it. It was chocolate. There were wafers. And even if it wasn't as dark as I had hoped it was still a little less sweet than the white chocolate confections I usually get with crazy flavored Kit Kats. I'd still like a truly Dark Chocolate Kit Kat if I can ever find one. Until then I'll be snacking on the Dark Chocolate Reese's I have stocked away in my fridge.

Final Score: 8

And don't forget to check out the review of Mild Bitter Kit Kats at Japanese Snack Reviews!