Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chestnut Kit Kat

I don't really know much about chestnuts except that you can roast them over an open fire and I only know that from that Christmas song that plays every year..."Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose." So I didn't really know what to expect when it came to the Chestnut Kit Kat. I just hoped Jack Frost would stay away while I ate them. My nose is cold enough with the strong winds here in Tahara.

The Chestnut Kit Kat is a mini Kit Kat and has only 65 calories in each small bar. I'm happy to report that this is another milk chocolate variety. It had a nice nutty smell that carried over into the flavor as well. Having never really eaten chestnuts before I can't really attest to how close this Kit Kat comes to a true chestnutty flavor but I will say that it was both nutty and delicious. But then that's no surprise since nuts and chocolate have had a long relationship together. Both the chocolate and the creme had a chestnut taste to them but despite the double whammy it was still subtle enough not to overwhelm the chocolate. This was another delicious Kit Kat and it makes me wonder if I shouldn't be trying more chestnut flavored treats. What are your favorite chestnut flavored snacks? Recommendations please!

Final Score: 7

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chocollabo Kit Kat

If a regular Kit Kat is too boring for you don't worry because Nestle has you covered. Oh, you don't like crazy flavors like Rose Kit Kat or Kinako Ohagi Kit Kat? Well, that's okay too. Even if you do here are some Kit Kats that are personalized by you for any special occasion. They probably work for random days too but they're kind of expensive. In the Nestle lab (by which I mean the internet) you can create your very own Kit Kat box with pictures, stamps, and cutesy writing. It's like purikura but on a Kit Kat box!

The site is all in Japanese and they charge 2,100 yen for a box of 10 Kit Kats. If those are the larger boxes with two packs inside then that's a pretty fair price. If it's a box of 10 minis then I might balk. It's a super cute idea for party favors I think and I'm soooo tempted but I don't have any special occasions to warrant buying them. Maybe when I leave Japan I could give them as goodbye presents. Until then you'll find me perusing the pictures of Kit Kat boxes featuring newlyweds, babies, and small dogs.

Check it out - Chocollabo Kit Kat.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Banana Kit Kat

I love bananas. I was really irate during the ridiculous banana diet fiasco in Japan where for about three months it was impossible to buy bananas because some empty-headed TV personality mentioned that she had lost weight eating nothing but bananas and every obachan in the country went out and bought up all the bananas by twelve each day. I like them because they are delicious and because they're usually the cheapest fruit in a country where apples are over a dollar a piece and melon prices can soar as high as $200 a pop. But I am a banana purist. I don't tend to like banana flavored things. Banana splits are only so-so. Even banana bread doesn't rank that high with me. So while a Banana Kit Kat sounded tempting I wondered if I would really like it or not.

The Banana Kit Kat minis are 66 calories each and are milk chocolate. They have a faint artificial banana smell to them that also extends to the taste, but it's mild enough and mixes well enough with the milk chocolate that I didn't really mind that it wasn't "natural." The chocolate seemed creamier than normal or maybe it's just that milk chocolate has a lower melting point than white but either way I liked it.

Overall it was a pretty tasty Kit Kat and it illustrates perfectly how I've come to feel about this crazy Kit Kat experience of mine and that is that I think Nestle does a better job when they try to create a flavor that complements the chocolate rather than overtakes it. A literal translation of a flavor in Kit Kat form does not always make for a delicious snack, the disgusting Corn Kit Kat is a perfect example. The Banana Kit Kat on the other hand is a nice blend of banana with chocolate.

Of course, it helps that bananas and chocolates go nicely together anyway. Chocolate fondue anyone? Banana Splits? Not true for apples and carrots, or roses, or corn on the cob and yet I've tried all of those. And I will keep trying them because who knows maybe Nestle will prove me wrong. I did like the Sports Drink Kit Kat. And the Melon Kit Kat. Neither of which I would have dreamed of making into chocolate bars. If you get the chance to try the Banana Kit Kat (and good luck trying because I think these are from last year) then I say go for it.

Final Score: 7.5

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sports Drink Kit Kat

I'm way late to the game with this one. The Sports Drink Kit Kat came out in late summer while I was on vacation in the US and I just couldn't find it when I got back. When I went to make another internet purchase a few weeks ago I noticed that it was still available from so I went ahead and ordered it along with some other Kit Kat varieties that are no longer available in the conbinis. (Reviews forthcoming!)

The Sports Drink Kit Kat is a joint venture with JFA Dream Asia Project which has something to do with soccer (the site is in Japanese...sorry!) It's meant to taste like one of the many sports drink on offer here in Japan, none of which I have ever tried so I can't account for the authenticity of the taste. I don't like to sweat enough to ever warrant needing a sports drink.

I might have to try one though after having this Kit Kat. I was pleasantly surprised. Sports Drink just doesn't sound like it would make the most appetizing of chocolate treats but it really wasn't that bad. The Sports Drink Kit Kat is 100 calories and comes in a box of two. They are made with white chocolate and smell like grapefruit. The chocolate itself also has a citrus-y grapefruit taste to it and the back of the box advertises a refreshing tartness that comes through in the creme.

Citrus flavored Kit Kats are not my favorite but this was one of the better ones. Surprisingly, I seem to like citrus taste paired with white chocolate rather than milk. I almost never prefer white chocolate but I would rather have the Sports Drink Kit Kat or the Calpis Kit Kat over the Lemon Vinegar or Sour Orange Kit Kats, both of which were milk chocolate. The sweetness of the white chocolate balances better with the sourness of the citrus.

What do you think? Do you like white, milk, or dark chocolate with your citrus fruits?

Final Score: 6

Friday, February 12, 2010

Green Tea Kinako Kit Kat

I've tried a Green Tea Kit Kat and I've tried a Kinako Kit Kat so why not a Green Tea Kinako Kit Kat? I don't know what prompted Nestle to try this combination - the picture on the wrapper is a little strange. Does anyone eat a small mountain of toasted soy flour with their matcha? Not the strangest flavor I'll grant you, I just wonder where it comes from. If anyone knows, please enlighten me.

The Green Tea Kinako Kit Kat was a Kit Kat bar with 242 calories. It's made with white chocolate and colored green so it looks like a bigger version of the Green Tea Kit Kat I sampled earlier this year. It smells different though, more like the Kinako Kit Kat, with a subtle nutty smell. The green tea flavor is mostly in the chocolate and the kinako is in the wafers. It's very sweet - too sweet for me actually. The mild nutty taste of the kinako flavor that I loved with the milk chocolate isn't enough to win me over this time.

The bigger bar means more white chocolate than with the smaller Green Tea mini and I think the sheer size contributed to the sweetness overload. If I were to try it again, I don't think I would eat the whole thing in one sitting. As it is I don't think I would try it again. I was very "meh" about the whole bar. I do think, however, if you are a big fan of the Green Tea Kit Kat then you might really enjoy this reincarnated version of it.

Final Score: 5

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bananas or Kit Kats?

BBC News has put together a nice little pros and cons list of bananas vs. Kit Kats. Personally, I like them both and I even have a Banana Kit Kat to review soon so maybe this will all be moot.

So what do you think? Bananas or Kit Kat in a snack stand-off - which wins?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Maple Kit Kat

With the Winter Olympics approaching Nestle decided to release a special Kit Kat. Not that they need a special reason to release a new Kit Kat but it does help in deciding which flavor to release next. The Maple Kit Kat is in honor of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and features real maple syrup from Quebec. Although someone should let them know that Vancouver and Quebec aren't really that close - almost opposite ends really of a very large country. But still it's a fun theme for a Kit Kat.

I like maple syrup and can often be found eating pancakes or french toast smothered in maple syrup on the weekends. At home I buy the cheap stuff like Aunt Jemima's that's made with corn syrup and other artificial flavoring but here in Japan there's no cheap alternative so I'm forced to spend 1,100 yen on a bottle of 100% maple syrup straight from Canada. But even though I like maple syrup I'm not usually a fan of maple flavored things. Pancakes are one thing but chocolate is another ball game all together. So I wasn't sure how I would like the Maple Kit Kat.

I bought my Maple Kit Kat minis individually at the 7-11 near my apartment for 40 yen each. Each mini is 69 calories. They are made with white chocolate and smell faintly of maple syrup. Ebidebby jokingly wondered if the Maple Kit Kat tasted like Soy Sauce and I will say that it did have a similar taste to the Soy Sauce Kit Kat but the resemblance was only slight. It did taste maple-y but it wasn't overpowering and balanced nicely with the white chocolate. What I liked the most about it was that the chocolate seemed extra creamy and I suspect that there is real maple syrup between the wafers that gives it a boost of moistness you don't usually find in other Kit Kats. It was definitely worth trying although I think I will stick with maple syrup on my pancakes rather than in my chocolate.

Do you like maple flavored treats? What are your favorites?

Final Score: 7

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Custard Pudding Kit Kat Bar

I could also call this entry Custard Pudding Kit Kat - Take Two. Or Return of the Custard Pudding Kit - bigger and better than ever before. Because I did try Custard Pudding Kit Kat minis back in June. This is just another example of how Nestle is able to constantly release new Kit Kats - they don't actually release that many new Kit Kats rather just slightly tweaked versions of past Kit Kats. But I will say that I like this incarnation better than last so no complaints here. (Also, I would run out of things to blog about if they only released uniquely new flavors.)

The Custard Pudding Kit Kat is a bar this time round with 239 calories in each large finger. Unlike the Custard Pudding minis that were made with white chocolate, this latest version is made with milk chocolate. And it is all the better for it. My main complaint with the minis was that they were too sweet but with milk chocolate this problem is solved. The chocolate was creamy and the custard flavor was mild. There were notes of the pudding itself with a slight bitter finish of the caramel sauce. Because it was a bigger bar and also possibly because it was milk chocolate the flavor was not as concentrated as it was in the minis so if you really like custard pudding and would rather have a strong flavor then you are better off with the minis versus the bar. If not, then this makes an ideal snack.

Final Score: 7

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Azuki Kit Kat

I've had a tumultuous relationship with azuki beans here in Japan. The first time I had them was in a bowl of zenzai - which is sweet red bean soup with big globs of mochi in it. I had just arrived in Japan and so I saw what I thought was a hearty bean soup that back home would have been salty. Imagine my surprise when it was sweet. I almost spit it back out into the bowl. Two years later and I still won't eat zenzai. I could probably stomach it now but the thought of eating something so sweet for lunch is unappetizing. It's the only school lunch menu I won't eat.

Over time I have come to realize that it isn't the beans in traditional Japanese sweets that I don't like but the mochi. I am perfectly happy to eat red bean paste in a cake or donut. And if a little old lady offers me a bowl of straight up azuki beans I can eat it without wanting to spit it out. So an Azuki Kit Kat didn't make me nervous like it might have two years ago.

The Azuki Kit Kat was released in honor of Setsubun. This Japanese holiday is celebrated on February 3rd as the changing of the seasons. People throw soy beans at friends or family dressed up as an oni or devil and say something to the effect of "out with the devil and in with good luck." It doesn't really make sense to me but then neither does Groundhog Day. I didn't throw beans yesterday but I did have some with school lunch and I ate my Azuki Kit Kat decorated with its own red oni.

The Azuki Kit Kat is a Kit Kat Bar and has 237 calories. It's made with milk chocolate and right away I could smell the red beans. The actual azuki taste is mild and concentrated mostly in the creme but it does mix well with the chocolate. Maybe if I had tried it first in a Kit Kat rather than in zenzai I might have liked it from the beginning. The only thing I didn't like was the pretty strong aftertaste of azuki it left in my mouth for quite a while after I finished the bar. Still it was a nice snack and a great way to celebrate Setsubun since I didn't have anyone to throw beans at.

Final Score: 7

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Raspberry Passion Fruit Kit Kat

Valentine's is drawing near and Japanese shops are filling up with chocolates. In Japan women give chocolates to men and then we have to wait a month before we get any reciprocal gift and even then it's cookies not chocolates, which is really unfair if you ask me. Although I guess with a Kit Kat you really get both so it's a win-win.

The latest Kit Kat is Valentine's Day themed with two different boxes to choose from - one pink and one brown. They are cute enough on the outside but they get even cuter once you open them up. The inside of the box is covered in hearts and the individual Kit Kat wrappers are as well. So they look nice, but how do they taste?

The Raspberry and Passion Fruit Kit Kat are made with dark chocolate so right there I am already very happy. These are not minis so each bar is 98 calories. They smell like raspberry and remind me of the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Lindt Truffles I used to buy all the time back in America. The chocolate is plain dark chocolate. There are no added flavors there. Instead it all comes through in the creme. In fact, if you take a close look you can see that the creme is pink. The raspberry tastes as strong as it smells but its sweetness contrasts so nicely with the darker chocolate. There is a very slight touch of sourness at the end so I assume that is the passion fruit coming through but I don't really know since I've never eaten passion fruit before. Are they sour?

This is a fantastic Kit Kat. I love the darker chocolate and both the sweetness and tartness of both the raspberry and passion fruit combine to make this a truly wonderful snack. This is one of the more luxurious Kit Kats I have tasted so far. I wish I didn't have so many Kit Kats in my kitchen waiting to be eaten or I might just buy some more of these. Who knows maybe I will anyway. Or there's always the hope that one of my friends will give me some tomo-choco for Valentine's Day!

Final Score: 10!!!